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Wednesday November 13th, 2019 3:49PM

Macron to offer solutions to French yellow vest grievances

By The Associated Press
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PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron is set to unveil long-awaited plans Thursday to quell five months of yellow vest protests that have damaged his presidency.

Macron will speak to the nation from the Elysee presidential palace after three months of national debate aimed at addressing the protesters' concerns through town hall meetings and collecting complaints online.

He is expected to unveil tax cuts for lower-income households and measures to boost pensions and help single parents. He may also make it easier for ordinary people to initiate local referendums.

While his promises are expected to respond to some demonstrators' grievances, other critics are likely to dismiss them as too little, too late. The protesters see the centrist Macron, a former investment banker, as leading a French government that favors the rich and want more income equality.

Many French protesters say they can't pay their bills due to the high cost of living.

Macron to make his economic announcements last week, but postponed them when the April 15 fire at Notre Dame Cathedral broke out.

Government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye said Macron's party leaders and government members will meet Monday to figure out the best schedule to implement the new measures.

The yellow vests, named after the fluorescent jackets French motorists are required to keep in their cars, have been protesting for 23 consecutive weeks. The numbers of protesters have dwindled in recent weeks amid internal divisions, but they remain a challenge to Macron's government.

A leading figure of the yellow vests, truck driver Eric Drouet, announced Wednesday on Facebook that he was "taking a break."

"I'm tired, sorry," he wrote, referring to comments, insults and threats against his family that he suggested had come from within the protest movement.

The movement started in November as a protest against a fuel tax hike and quickly expanded into broader public rejections of Macron's economic policies.

Macron has already made some concessions, but they failed to extinguish the anger of the yellow vest movement. In December, he abandoned the fuel tax hike, scrapped a tax increase for retirees and introduced a 100-euro ($113) monthly bonus to increase the minimum wage, a package estimated at 10 billion euros ($11.5 billion).

But Macron has repeatedly refused to reintroduce a wealth tax on the country's richest people —one of the protesters' main demands.

French polls show that Macron's popularity has hovered around low levels for more than a year. Macron's numbers have turned up recently as the yellow vest protests turned violent and he traversed the country taking part in the national debate.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News, AP Business
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