Macron Responds to Yellow Vests Protests by Launching a National Debate
Finally addressing the ever-increasing dissatisfaction with his government, French President Emmanuel Macron initiated a national debate whose aim is to defuse the tensions created by the Yellow Jacket protests.
French President Emmanuel Macron has officially launched a nation-wide debate in order to alleviate the tensions that have built up during the nine weeks of the Yellow Jacket protests. In an open letter to the nation, Macron asked French citizens to voice their opinions on issues ranging from tax to democratic representation.
On January 15, Macron kicked off his two-month “grand debate” tour in Grand Bourgtherouldet, a small town in Normandy. More than 600 mayors attended the meeting where Macron said he was ready to consider questions raised by the citizens.
The President acknowledged that France was going through a “social fracture” that has been in the works for more than 25 years and said that “there can be no taboos” in the planned debates. In his six-page letter to the public, Macron also said he hoped “as many people” as possible would participate in the open discussions.
Macron’s town-hall-style discussions will reportedly be centered around four main issues defined by the Yellow Jacket protests. Taxation, establishing functioning state and public services, democracy and citizenship, as well as the country’s transition into a low-carbon economy are all questions Macron hopes get answered in the debates.
The debates can be held anywhere and involve as little as a couple of participants. A central group will be established in Paris, the report said, where staff will provide information packs and guidelines for the debate moderators across the country. French citizens will also be able to reply to the debate online.
At the beginning of February, contributors from each region that have been chosen by lot will work together on drafting the final recommendations that will be passed on to the government. All of the recommendations will be accounted for directly in the month following the end of the debate, Macron said.
And while Macron’s “grand debate” was promoted as a be all end all solution to France’s woes, its reception has been lukewarm at best. Many members of the Yellow Jacket movement called the initiative a “smokescreen,” created in order to remove the focus from the “real” issues.
We are yet to see how the debate will be received in other parts of France. The BBC has called the initiative “an imaginative bid to revitalize democracy,” but many French citizens are reluctant to accept the good-naturedness of Macron’s plan.
(Banner image: Wikimedia Commons)