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The French 'Gilets Jaunes' Movement in Context

Date: 22nd March 2019
Time: 11:00
Location: KB1-16, Kemmy Business School
A CEUROS, Euro-Asia Centre and MLAL Partnership
Friday 22nd March 2019 (11am, Venue: KB 1-16)
The French “Gilets jaunes” Movement in Context
Dr Frédéric Royall
Centre for European Studies (CEUROS) and School of Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics (MLAL) University of Limerick

Starting in mid-November 2018 a considerable number of people across France have taken to the streets in weekly demonstrations to demand social and fiscal justice.  Protesters numbered approximately 300,000 on 17 November 2018 and still numbered around 50,000 by late February 2019.[1][1] The protests were initiated by people drawn from what has been described as the “diagonale du vide” (that is regions characterised by having an aging population and a weakening growth rate) and public support has been overwhelmingly positive – approximately 80% in late November 2018 and slightly lower than 50% by late February 2019. Public authorities have thus far struggled to contain the movement despite the massive deployment of law-enforcement personnel, the withdrawal some controversial fiscal policies, or the putting in place of large-scale security measures.
This paper discusses the relevance of the French yellow-vest movement in light of recent social and political developments in France. The first part reviews the issues that prompted yellow-vest protesters to take to the streets and it assesses public authorities’ responses. The second part considers the movement’s characteristics. The final part analyses the broader social, economic and political contexts that were crucial contributory factors.