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French riots hit the marklong reform

French riots hit the marklong reform
2018-12-09 19:02:23 Source: Xinhuanet

Xinhua News Agency reporter Han Bing Ying Qiang

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Some French people launched a new round of demonstrations in the capital city of Paris and some provinces on the 8th to protest against the French government's upward adjustment of fuel tax, which led to an increase in oil prices. On the same day, the shops on the Champs Elysées in Paris closed behind the door, and the motorized vehicles were banned in places like Charles de Gaulle Square and Place de la Concorde. The main attractions in Paris, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, were closed.

Analysts pointed out that the continuous fermentation protests not only damaged the French economy and international image, but also led to the reforms promoted by French President Mark Long since he took office.

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French Interior Minister Kastane said at a news conference on the evening of the 8th that the French Ministry of the Interior and the police have learned the lessons from the previous demonstrations, and the violent elements have been decisive and the situation has been controlled as a whole.

The French government plans to raise the fuel tax from January 1 next year, causing strong public dissatisfaction. Since November 17, some people have held protests in Paris and other provinces for four consecutive weeks. In fact, the prices of diesel and gasoline in France have risen to varying degrees since 2018, and the public has been quite dissatisfied.

French Prime Minister Philippe announced on December 4 that the French government will postpone the fuel tax for six months. French Environment Minister Druegy told the media on the 5th that he had called with Mark Long to confirm that the government decided to cancel the plan to raise the fuel tax next year.

But the French government’s concession has not calmed the public’s dissatisfaction. The latest poll by the British Observatory survey showed that the public opinion support rates of Mark Long and Philip fell to 18% and 21% respectively, the lowest since they took office. French extreme right and extreme left political forces also took the opportunity to attack the Macaron government. Some political parties decided to jointly submit a motion of no confidence in the government to the French National Assembly on the 10th to seek impeachment.

Analysts pointed out that Mark Long currently has strong control over the cabinet. The majority of the Republican Party in the French National Assembly is still stable, and the probability of passing the government's no-confidence bill is small.

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Economic damage

French Economy and Finance Minister Lemaire said at a news conference recently that the French economy has been affected by “serious and sustained” since the beginning of demonstrations against the government’s fuel tax hike. 15% to 25%, retail sales fell 20% to 40%, catering business turnover fell 20% to 50%, and the number of bookings in the hotel industry dropped by 15% to 20%.

The French National Food Industry Association issued a communique stating that the recent demonstrations in the past have caused serious losses to the French food industry. The industry is expected to lose as much as 13.5 billion euros, and SMEs are the biggest victims. The French Association of Commodity Transportation and Logistics Industry said that protests and riots have caused at least 400 million euros in losses to the industry.

Roland Eyre, president of the French Federation of Tourism Enterprises, said in an interview with local media that violent riots seriously damaged the image of Paris and France. The French government and related industries have tried to reshape their image after several terrorist attacks in France in 2015, and recent disturbances have eclipsed this effort.

Reform is blocked

For the internal cause of the demonstration, Zhao Chen, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Europe, believes that increasing the fuel tax is only a trigger. The crux of the problem is that the French economy continues to slump, and the purchasing power of low- and middle-income groups has declined and the burden of living has increased.

Over the past year or more, Mark Long has promoted a series of reform measures to reduce the welfare level of the people as a whole. At the same time, he has also abolished the “rich tax” and asset tax, encouraging the French to turn their attention from “dividing cakes” to “making cakes”. . Although these reform measures are beneficial in the long run, they will inevitably touch the interests of some sectors in the short term, leading to increased dissatisfaction among the people.

Local media analysis reported that the lack of a sense of gain in the reform process was one of the important reasons why the demonstrations swept France. According to reports, in the past five years, the wage level in France has not risen much, and the tax burden of low- and middle-income groups has always been very heavy. They did not feel that they were the beneficiaries of the reform. In a public speech, Philippe also admitted that France is currently one of the countries with the highest tax levels in Europe, and the French tax system is “complicated and terrible”.

Analysts pointed out that this round of demonstrations or reforms that led to Mark Long's determination to advance into the "stall" track. This time, Mark Long’s pressure to slow down the pace of reform will have a negative demonstration effect. In addition, violent riots have severely hampered his ruling prestige, and it will be even harder to unite people to advance reforms in the future.

On the other hand, after Mark Long canceled the plan to raise the fuel tax next year, making up the fiscal revenue gap will become a major problem for the French government. If this problem is not properly resolved, it will lead to an increase in France's fiscal deficit next year, which will affect the prestige of Mark Long in the EU, and his ambition to "reshape" the EU will be frustrated.