A people and its president

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After the moment of glory when everything, and many, seemed to smile, inside and out, against Trump and Merkel, the youngest president of the Fifth Republic, flanked by his competent friends, is at the head of the most powerful executive of democratic countries. Champion of equations. In front of his people.

The excessive reform, the increase of the fuel tax, leads to the challenge of all austerity measures, taken by himself (advisor to President Hollande, minister of the same or president) and his predecessors: first challenge having obtained a result, insufficient, but a result, which had not happened for a long time, despite the eventful and varied protests of the unions, Nuit debout

Nuit debout was a draft and a warning: movement, born outside of any organization, following a demonstration on the Labor Law in the spring of 2016. However, Nuit debout was still linked to the traditional struggles with the will to advance towards the convergence of struggles. And in addition, popular assemblies putting forward multiple reforms and a necessary direct democracy. It was, as some have said, a modern form of political action, outside parties, outside unions, without a leader, without a program … (Albert Ogien), not the first post-Marxist social movement (Gaël Brustier) but its foreshadowing.

Today, they are des personnes de rien, des fainéants, des Gaulois irréformables , des illettrés (as said Macron)  who oppose a government measure, an increase in the fuel tax. Using social networks, outside any associative, union, political structure, they create an Unidentified Social Object (Objet Social Non Identifié, OSNI) launching the occupation of the roundabouts. They are not workers who occupy their factory, students who occupy their faculty, it is not the population of large urban centers that occupy public places like others have done elsewhere and before them.

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They are people from so-called peripheral areas, small towns in the regions, without a tradition of collective struggle, who, directly affected, react spontaneously. Far from governmental or protest centralism, the strength of the movement is to be a national movement, spontaneous, made up of multiple groups more or less important, scattered throughout France.
Strength in the moment of protest but difficulty in decision-making …

At the time of a tax of too much which touched especially a population little or badly represented at the social level, at the political level, probably often abstentionist, not belonging to the organized social forces or measuring the impotence of these traditional forces, associations, unions, parties, having often never manifested, the Gilets Jaunes have pinpointed the fiscal, social and political injustice, on the inequalities which are accentuated and met popular support rarely so strong and so durable.

The gilet aune (yellow vest), mandatory in every car, became symbol of revolt. These very diverse people (status, occupation, age) have an absolute need of their car for their daily life and their work, they decide to occupy the roundabouts ….
For their first mobilization, a master stroke, never seen.

Round dots and round back.
Faced with this unknown of their equations, not taken into account in their algorithms, new competents have the same reflex as the old! Silent round back of the chair. Waiting for it to pass! As unstructured, without a spokesperson, this OSNI, medieval jacquerie, provincial Poujadism, was going to die in the swamps.
It was to forget the viral strength of networks, yet long vilified!
The phenomenon is repeated every Saturday, does not weaken, with huge support from the population according to the polls. Despite the violence largely on the front page.
Macron tries to regain control of the clocks.
However, for him, it’s always winter time.

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A little carrot.
Here comes the classic carrot attempt: a few billion will solve the problem, divide the Gilets Jaunes, weaken the importance of support and we can resume the budget equations according to the Maastricht criteria with a comprehensive European Commission. For this champion of the European Union and its economic policy.
Giving little, in a dull way, is not the right way.

However, for the first time, power had yielded, partially. The wise trade union demonstrations, repeated, shouting otherwise it’s going to fart, have not gotten anything for a long time. It does not fart. The governments, the leftist first, ignored the demonstrations, in support of the population. Macron’s limited concessions, obtained in spite of, perhaps because of the violence of some demonstrators, showed that it was possible. It was necessary to push with the support of the population.
From the fuel tax, the demands were widening and leading the protesters to attack the president, legitimately, because everything comes from him – he had asked that they come to get me – and even to his mandate …

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A big stick.
Mediated violence, the approach of the end-of-year family celebrations were favorable to strike a blow. In the proper sense of the term.
With the strongest police repression of demonstration since the war of Algeria! With provocative speeches and collateral damage never seen. To scare the protesters, afraid of serious injury, fear of indictment for participation. Fear to the population in the face of such clashes. Through speech and images.
Inadequacy of repression. Physical threats, socio-economic threats, loss of GDP, loss of temporary jobs for the holidays, flight of tourists, nothing helps! The participation weakens, it does not take long to go ahead again, significant. With the support of the population, less but always majority.

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A big carrot. The Great National Debate! Free and undistorted?

President Macron finally realizes the gravity of the situation. He is not de Gaulle. He can not launch a referendum-plebiscite with a very uncertain outcome. But, going beyond Clemenceau, – when you want to bury a problem, create a commission – he launches the Grand Débat National to bury the Gilets Jaunes.
It remains to be seen how things will turn out. On January 24, 1789, Louis XVI convened the Etats Généraux for the month of May ..

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Bad start for the debate: the president of the National Commission of Public Debate, which was supposed to guarantee the quality of the consultation, resigned. It seemed to her indecent to manage a dialogue about purchasing power while his comfortable salary was published in the newspapers.
However, she had to be of quality, to be aware of the problem. To dare to say it. For having been replaced by five guarantors whose income should not be very different from her own, but they think well for the president: two chosen by the government and three by the presidents of the National Assembly, the Senate and the Economic, Social and Economic Council. environmental.

President Macron is the initiator of this Grand Débat National, free and undistorted, and, of course, the organizer. He sets the framework, the calendar, the limits. Open to all suggestions if they are smart – translate if they are consistent – while claiming that he will not change course.

The president barely conceals his game by going for the second meeting in Souillac where he launched his presidential campaign. This time, the account of the state, ie the taxpayer. At four months of the European elections. The first meetings with the mayors of two regions give a first taste of this tour: debate organized by the prefect who chooses the mayors who will speak, chaired by a minister.

The aims of the debate are clear: to occupy at length, largely the ground, easier, he thinks, for him than for the Gilets Jaunes; to bring out from the consultation the intelligent measures which he has already decided to take, to refuse those which are not intelligent, which do not suit him; I will not change the course !

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The claims of the Gilets Jaunes are essentially of two types: financial, they concern the social justice, the purchasing power, the ends of month … and institutional, they relate to the democracy and especially on the direct democracy …

The first are directly the responsibility of the president, the government. They can easily have them voted by the National Assembly, if necessary, given the overwhelming majority they have.
The main ones are known: the abolition of the fuel tax increase (it was only postponed), return of the ISF, increase of the Smic (not a premium), decrease of the VAT on the products of the need, level of pensions, increase in the number of installments for income taxes, taxes on GAFA, hunt for tax optimization and tax avoidance, removal of CICE … It is possible to add other recovery of the APL (which seems forgotten by everyone), recovery of subsidized jobs, removal of some tax loopholes…

Announcement of decisions can be quick. Problem: They question the president’s policy that made it clear he would not change course. It all depends on the balance of power that will be established Gilets Jaunes and their supporters in the population.

The latter want a strengthening of democracy and, above all, the establishment of a form of direct democracy. They take longer to develop, especially if they require constitutional reform.
Limiting the number of parliamentarians and their means? The president will accept it easily. He has already planned it. It strengthens the power of the executive and accentuates the presidential nature of the regime which probably does not constitute a strengthening of democracy.
Consideration of the vote blanc should not be a serious problem. Acceptance can be fast in principle.

The question is very different for the Citizen’s Initiative Referendum.

In the framework of the European Union, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, adopted in 2000, ensures the right of petition in front of the European Parliament (1 million signatures). In France, since the constitutional law of 2008, the Social and Environmental Economic Council can be petitioned (500 000 adults of French nationality or residing regularly in France). This right of petition does not seem to have advanced democracy significantly, either in Europe or in France.
Acceptance of principle is not enough. It is necessary to ensure, at the comma, the conditions of establishment and execution of the referendum: subjects, formulations of the question, number of signatures … This supposes months of surveillance, of dialogue, more or less conflicting , so that the measure is really applicable. And therefore vigilance Gilets Jaunes or what will follow in the long term, not a few weeks but a few months …

This is to say the importance of the form that will give the Gilets Jaunes in the coming weeks to focus on the essentials of their claims: tax justice, social justice, democracy that the president wants to drown in an all-round consultations: all questions, all citizens.
At each concession, if there is a concession, the same question will come back. Should we stop the movement? Can we continue it indefinitely … We saw it well after the December 10th speech where some people seemed to be satisfied with Macron’s announcements.

Various proposals have been put forward.

Participating in the European elections would lead to the temptation to develop a program on many issues that are not, explicitly, in the claims of Gilets Jaunes … hence a risk of division. Emphasized in case of multiple lists competing leading to a votes sharing and nobody elected.
Moreover, according to the polls, a list of Gilets Jaunes would remove voices especially from the Rassemblement National and  France Insoumise and strengthen the president.

The attempt to organize an assembly of assemblies like that of Commercy could be a form of coordination over time to maintain a certain unity on the analysis of the situation and its evolution. And the possible countermeasures to be taken to weigh. It will not be easy.

To be received by the President of the Republic would strengthen the recognition of Gilets Jaunes received as privileged interlocutors provided that the delegation is representative of the majority of them and does not constitute a factor of division. It is unlikely that Macron will make any proposals while the Grand Débat is underway. If not to feel the ground or divide.

Be that as it may, the period ahead is difficult for les Gilets Jaunes as the election campaign for the European elections begins in a European Union in deep crisis while the house burns without anyone being preoccupied.

The strength of the Gilets Jaunes is their independence but even more their unity in the claims, tax justice, social justice, territorial justice, democracy that should be endorsed by the candidates in the European elections, without releasing their vigilance against the President and the government .


It is also, and perhaps above all, the continued support of the population with the hope that all the activists who share their goals, who are in associations, unions or parties whose credibility is not much bigger than that of the journalists. And who would find there hope to change things.

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