The French authorities will publish a letter by President Emmanuel Macron on 14 January in order to encourage people to participate in a great national debate, slated to begin on 15 January, AFP reported.
The debate will focus on four main topics such as taxes, purchasing power, democracy and ecology, and is expected to be held in town halls and on the internet.
However, some are already questioning the method of stopping the unrest: for instance, AFP cited a 59-year-old French man who said that “the debate is in the street, not in a hall, or on the internet. It is now that we need to discuss. I don’t think any good will come out of this”.
French-speaking social media users appear to share the same stance on the much-hyped debate:
TWEET: “Macron’s resignation is the only way to appease France”.
La démission de Macron est la seule option pour apaiser la France.— Anice L. (@Anice_L) 12 January 2019
TWEET: “The Great debate? The biggest bluff in two years MACRON”.
French politician Nicolas Dupont-Aignan also blasted the idea, saying that “the great national debate is complete nonsense, there is not a single French person who believes in this comedy. The Great Debate is great blah!"
📺 Nicolas @DupontAignan: "Le #GrandDebatNational, c’est de la foutaise intégrale, il n’y a pas un Français qui croit à cette comédie. Le Grand Débat c'est du grand blabla!" #LeGrandRDV pic.twitter.com/dbqiGXsK9A— Avec NDA (@AvecNDA2022) 13 January 2019
President of the Democratic Movement François Bayrou, for his part, said on Saturday that the debate could be “very important and beneficial” for French society, “even though many will try to hamper” the discussion.
Police used tear gas, water cannons and flash-balls in the French capital to push back some protesters hurling rocks, bottles, and improvised projectiles at officers.
The “yellow vests” protests, which take their name from the jackets French drivers usually wear, have been raging across France since mid-November, initially starting as demonstrations against fuel tax increases.
Although the French authorities abandoned their plans, the protests have since mushroomed into a broader movement against government policies.