Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

The Politics of the Gilets Jaunes in France, is the Far-Right only at the Fringes?

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“Police Force. We hope that you will not touch French people in Gilets Jaunes. If you feel you need exercise you can start by going into the Estates and defend yourself against the scum of 10 to 16 years old when they spit and attack you instead of doing nothing about it.”

Today le Monde leads with the claim that the Gilets Jaunes movement is running out of steam ahead of its Saturday March on the Champ-de-Mars in Paris.

« Gilets jaunes » : la mobilisation s’essouffle au sixième jour du mouvement

Opinion is divided on the Gilets Jaunes.

The movement, protesting against a rise in the tax on transport fuel, has no formal leaders.

But there are plenty of political figures circulating around.

On the BBC site Lucy Williamson comments,

There’s lively debate here about the true nature of the protests – whether the movement is being steered by hard-right agitators, or hijacked by political interests. But for every one out blocking roads, there seem to be many French citizens supporting them at home. A survey by the polling agency Elabe found that almost three-quarters of French voters approved of the protests, and that more than half of those who voted for Mr Macron support them.

Several of the main opposition parties have publicly backed them, including the centre right Republicains, the far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon and his far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

Most people agree this is about much more than fuel taxes. It’s about the economic policies of President Emmanuel Macron in the face of growing frustration from low- and middle-income workers about making ends meet.

Are French riots a curse or a blessing for Macron?

Jean Luc Mélenchon is clearly enthused by the Gilets Jaunes:

Image may contain: 2 people, text and outdoor

Olivier Besancenot of the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA) has welcomed the France wide blockages as a “social upheaval”. The unrest, he asserted, was about the cost of living, not about ecological policies.”

“On n’a pas affaire à une fronde contre un gouvernement écologique, on a une fronde sociale contre la vie chère, qui n’a pas d’hostilité contre la transition écologique”, a analysé le fondateur du NPA.

Gilets jaunes: “C’est une fronde sociale qui ne fait que commencer”, affirme Olivier Besancenot

Robert Hirsh of the bloc, Ensemble (which has 2 MPs, allied to La France insoumise) states that their comrades participated in the blockages, and that the far right had not ” décisivement” impacted on the demonstrations. Hirsh sees the future in terms of a broader “anti-austerity” movement. (Passer des gilets jaunes aux drapeaux rouges et verts…)

On the same site, of Ensemble, a group of left-wing figures claim that the self-organised Gilets Jaunes, are welcome news, a popular movement after a long series of set backs, ” Ce mouvement d’auto-organisation populaire fera date et c’est une bonne nouvelle.” (Les “gilets jaunes” sont aussi le produit d’une succession d’échecs du mouvement social.)

Others are less than happy at reports of this character, illustrating joint action between Mélenchon supporters and the factions of the far right.

Notably:  Gilets jaunes: des manifestations très à droite… LE BLOG DE LANCETRE


Here are some of the aspects of the movement which have caused concern.

“Yellow vests” deliver migrants hidden in a lorry to the gendarmes

The Tanker in which the six migrants were located was stopped in cyclist, near the a16 motorway in the Somme.


Here is more of the political support: (RN – Rassemblement Rational is the new name for the Front National).

Les gilets jaunes ne font pas de politique…Mais accueillent Dieudonné !

We wish those attempting to turn this into a broader anti-austerity movement well.

But there are few signs that the social groups moblised by the Gilets Jaunes are likely to turn to wider social solidarity. The trade union federations have kept, an often ambiguous, distance, while expressing some support for their demands. The political problems of the British fuel protests of 2000, and following years (up to 2007) which involved right-wing groups, such as  Farmers for Action and coincided with the hard-right Countryside Alliance protests, look small in comparison. The tolerance of the far-right, and many incidents of casual bigotry,   and overt racism, indicate a fracture – reflected across Europe, including the UK  –  between this “populism in the streets” and the left.

6 Responses

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  1. The Yellow Vests movement, and repression of it, is strongest in the French Indian ocean colony Réunion:


    The Macron government’s ‘green’ pretext for the tax hike is a sham. Macron and his government are far from green.

    Recently, Macron’s environment minister Nicolas Hulot resigned in protest against the anti-environment policies of the rest of the government.

    The Macron government wants to make it legal for hunters to kill beautiful threatened godwit birds, and also beautiful threatened curlews.

    Already when he was a minister in the previous Hollande administration, Macron clashed repeatedly with his Environment colleague, Ms Ségolène Royal, because of his anti-environment pro-fossil fuel corporations plans.

    Already before becoming president, Macron planned environmentally destructive gold mining next to a national park in the colony French Guiana.

    If the Macron government would really care about the environment, then they would not raise fuel taxes for the common people, but, eg, lower or abolish taxes for electric cars and public transport; raise taxes for Big Oil fat cats and other super rich persons; stop promoting nuclear energy; etc. Their aim with the fuel tax is to take money from common people to give yet more to rich people.




    November 22, 2018 at 3:47 pm

  2. Where it has taken a very different turn and that’s the first I’ve heard of them demonstrating to protect animals – it helps to read French to follow this….

    Gilets jaunes » : à La Réunion, le mouvement débordé par des « cagoules noires »
    Pour la cinquième journée, l’île était paralysée par les violences urbaines, malgré un couvre-feu partiel.

    “Pour tenter de calmer la colère, la région Réunion a annoncé mardi que l’augmentation de la taxe sur le gazole et le sans-plomb serait gelée sur l’île jusqu’en 2021. C’était la première demande des « gilets jaunes » de l’île… mais pas la seule, d’où la poursuite des blocages. Le sujet des hydrocarbures est la goutte d’eau qui a fait déborder le vase.

    Aujourd’hui, les revendications portent plus largement sur « la vie chère », l’emploi, les retraites. En soutien de leur mal-être, quarante élus ont remis au préfet un mémorandum présentant dix propositions pour l’île, sur le pouvoir d’achat, l’insertion des jeunes ou encore le développement de l’activité dans le BTP, l’agriculture et le tourisme.”


    Andrew Coates

    November 22, 2018 at 6:28 pm

  3. […] The Politics of the Gilets Jaunes in France, is the Far-Right only at the Fringes? | Tendance Coates… – “Police Force. We hope that you will not touch French people in Gilets Jaunes. If you […]

  4. […] via The Politics of the Gilets Jaunes in France, is the Far-Right only at the Fringes? — Tendance Coat… […]

  5. It had to come, the Gilets Jaunes as a “floating signifier”, discourse ‘theory’ in the service of theories of ‘hegemony’ and “articulation” or how to make anti-Green tax protests left wing.

    Andrew Coates

    November 23, 2018 at 5:27 pm

  6. […] [51] Andrew Coates, “The Politics of the Gilets Jaunes in France: is the Far-Right only at the Fringes?,” 22 November 2018, https://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2018/11/22/the-politics-of-the-gilets-jaunes-in-france-is-the-…. […]

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