Macron takes responsibility for anger among French citizens, vows to speed tax relief and restore calm
PARIS (AP) — The Latest on anti-government protests in France (all times local):
8:30 p.m.: President Emmanuel Macron has acknowledged he’s partially responsible for the anger that has fueled weeks of protests in France, an unusual admission for the leader elected last year.
In a televised address to the nation, Macron said: “We probably have not been able for a year-and-a-half to bring quick enough and strong enough responses.”
Macron also acknowledged he may have given an impression “not to care” about the concerns of ordinary citizens and “might have hurt” some people with his comments.
Macron is perceived by many in France as arrogant, for instance telling an unemployed man he could find a job if he “crosses the street” and advising a retiree not to complain.
8:15 p.m.: Facing exceptional protests, Macron is promising to speed up tax relief for struggling workers and to scrap a tax hike for retirees.
The actions were the pledges Macron made on Monday night in his first public comments since protests against his presidency devolved into rioting in the French capital.
The French leader reiterated earlier promises to raise the minimum wage and pledged to abolish taxes on overtime pay starting Jan. 1, several months before schedule.
He also said a tax hike pensioners faced would be scrapped.
All of the measures offered had been demanded by the yellow-vested protesters who have led four weeks of increasingly radicalized demonstrations against Macron’s presidency, seen as favoring the rich.
8:05 p.m.: Macron is promising “all means” will be used to restore calm after the disruptive protests that have deeply shaken the nation.
On Monday night, Macron addressed France for the first time since anti-tax protests around the country turned into rioting in Paris.
Trying to sound gentle and calming, Macron acknowledged “anger and indignation” among members of the public over the cost of living.
But he also said “no indulgence” would be given to people behind the protest violence.
He said “no anger justifies” attacking police or looting stores, saying both threaten France’s cherished liberty.
3:10 p.m.: Union representatives say Macron gave no information about the measures he is going to announce in a televised address to the nation in the evening.
Secretary general of the moderate workers union CFDT Laurent Berger said “we had no answer” about the president’s declaration. “We will listen to him with a lot of interest, lots of expectations and some concern as well given the situation,” he said.
Macron met in his presidential palace with local and national politicians, unions and business leaders to hear their concerns. The morning meeting stretched past lunch and lasted over four hours.
Yves Veyrier, secretary general of the left-wing workers union FO, said “we will listen to him to see if we have been heard.”
Macron is expected to announce a series of measures to reduce taxes and boost purchasing power in a televised speech on Monday evening.
9:35 a.m.: Macron is preparing to speak to the nation at last, after increasingly violent protests against his leadership.
Macron is meeting Monday morning with local and national political leaders, unions and business leaders to hear their concerns after four weeks of protests that started in struggling provinces and spread to rioting in the capital.
In the evening, he will give a national televised address in which he is expected to propose potential solutions. He hasn’t spoken publicly in more than a week, aggravating tensions.
The “yellow vest” protesters’ demands have mushroomed to include an end to other taxes, a rise in the minimum wage — and Macron’s resignation.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on RTL radio Monday that the fallout from protests could cost the economy 0.1% of gross domestic product.
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