yellow vests Kiran Ridley/Getty Images

France’s Big Hate

As the "Yellow Vest" protests in France become increasingly violent, President Emmanuel Macron and what he stands for have become the focus of the extremists’ hate. As a result, the tone of French political debate is worryingly reminiscent of the 1930s.

PARIS – Emmanuel Macron’s unexpected victory in the 2017 French presidential election, with 66% of the vote, made France seem, at least to some, a safe haven from the populism roiling European politics. His triumph came as a relief to a large majority of the French, as well as to other governments in the European Union and around the world.

But Macron’s victory incited a form of near-hysterical derangement among his opponents on the extreme right and left. The increasingly violent, racist, and anti-Semitic “Yellow Vest” protests are the visible manifestation of that rage.

True, some of the blame for this lies with Macron, and with the technocratic tin ear of some of his team. In particular, the sharp increase in taxes on fuel announced in November 2018 – a move intended to advance the president’s climate agenda while helping, at the margins, to balance the budget – disproportionately hit rural and suburban voters, who were already feeling squeezed economically. This triggered the Yellow Vest rebellion.

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