One Year On, Majority of French Still Support Yellow Vests

TOPSHOT - A demonstrator waves a French national flag during a protest of Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) against rising oil prices and living costs in front of the Arc of Triomphe on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, on December 1, 2018. - Thousands of anti-government protesters are expected today …

A year after the start of the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) movement, a new poll shows that 55 per cent of the French people still support the protestors.

The poll, released by Elabe, noted that just 29 per cent of French were against the movement, with another 15 per cent who said they had no opinion either way. The highest support comes from supporters of populist leader Marine Le Pen and far-left politician Jean-Luc Melenchon, Le Figaro reports.

Around 64 per cent of the respondents said that the movement made it possible to form “social bands” with others, but just 29 per cent said they thought the protests allowed French president Emmanuel Macron to “better understand the realities of everyday life.”

While the violence at the Yellow Vest protests has calmed in recent months, the early weeks of the protest saw high levels of violence directed toward police by protesters — and vice versa.

According to a member of the French riot police, the CRS, the demonstration that took place on the 1st of December last year was so intense that some feared that government could have fallen.

The officer, who identified only as Stéphane, spoke to France Inter and said he was stationed in front of the Élysée Palace, the home of the French presidency, on the day of the protest, and his colleagues were fearful of the protesters.

“I saw in the eyes of my colleagues the fear that we could not hold our position. If we had been attacked where I was, we could not hold it: the Élysée would fall,” he said.

“When you have 3,000 ‘yellow vests’ that pass in front of your barrier, you say to yourself: there, if they realize that we are only three and that the Élysée is just 100 meters, we will perhaps call our families to tell them we love them and we will not be there tonight,” he added.

A week later, Stéphane said the CRS decided to confront protesters at the top of the Champs Élysées saying that he was frightened by the anger of the protestors. “They had the drool that flowed from their mouths, they were animals,” he claimed.

“There was really hate, people wanted to kill cops, burn everything, break everything, and I thought that day, ‘there will be deaths.’ Either on the police side, protesters’ side, or both,” the officer said, and noted that his police superiors were clueless during the protests and had underestimated the anger.

Condemning the higher-ups, he added: “The quality of a command, we do not see it in peacetime: we see it when it gets hot on the ground, well, on the 1st and 8th of December, they were bad. Paris, in the ministry, they did not take in the scale of the situation.”

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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