Macron started a three-month national debate in response to sustained protests by the yellow vests who have demanded an overhaul of his welfare and tax policies as well as referendums on major policy decisions. Two days before the debates, which are starting Tuesday, Macron addressed the nation in an open letter stating that the debates will focus on such topics as taxes, public spending, and environmental reform, but did not mention the possibility of putting his policies up to the popular vote.
"This debate will give protesters a chance to widen their demands’ list. It means that people will try to use the situation. So it may develop into a genuine demagogic trend. This initiative, therefore, is very risky for Macron. It may succeed but it may end up as a complete failure for him. I am, for example, very sceptical of it," Myard, a former National Assembly member, said.
According to Myard, the French president seems to have cornered himself with this handling of the crisis, as an early general election has been already seen as the only realistic way out of the current deadlock.
The wave of the so-called yellow vests protests — named after the obligatory attribute of French drivers — started in France in mid-November. The French government has scrapped its planned hike in diesel taxes that sparked the protests, but the yellow vests have since morphed into a broader movement against government policies and rising living costs.
In December, Macron introduced a number of measures aimed at resolving the nation's economic and social crisis and declared a state of economic and social emergency. The proposed measures included annual bonuses for employees and exemptions from increased social security tax for pensioners earning less than 2,000 euros (over $2,200) per month. The measures proved insufficient in pacifying the protesters, with rallies continuing across France every weekend.
The views and opinions expressed by Jacques Myard do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.