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French back 'yellow vest' protests despite govt U-turn: poll

Yellow Vests protesters clash with riot police forces during a demonstration against rising oil prices and living costs in Bordeaux, southwestern France, on December 1, 2018

Paris (AFP)

Most French people still back the "yellow vest" protests raging across the country and even more believe government concessions to the protesters are insufficient, according to a survey published Wednesday.

The Elabe poll found 78 percent believed measures announced by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in a bid to quell more than two weeks of anti-government protests did not meet the expectations of the "yellow vests".

Tuesday's announcements, targeted at low-income families, include a six-month suspension on a rise in fuel taxes, a key issue driving the protests.

Philippe also froze hikes in regulated electricity and gas prices and new vehicle norms that would have hit users of old, polluting diesel cars.

The "yellow vest" movement, named after the high-visibility jackets worn by protesters, began as nationwide road blocks in protest at rising fuel taxes.

But it has since snowballed into increasingly violent protests against Macron, who protesters see as elitist and out of touch with ordinary people in the provinces.

The freeze on fuel taxes represents the first major climbdown by the centrist president, who had vowed not to be pushed around by protesters in his bid to "transform" France.

But many "yellow vests" have continued to call for more protests next weekend and the survey suggests a majority think his concessions do not go far enough.

Some 68 percent think freezing fuel taxes will not boost their purchasing power, while 54 percent think freezing gas and electricity prices will not help.

Some 72 percent support the movement overall, according to the poll -- numbers that have stayed stable despite violent clashes in Paris last weekend when some 200 cars were torched.

Largely made up of people in rural and small-town France who feel overlooked by former investment banker Macron, the movement has widespread support on the political fringes.

Among people who vote for far-right leader Marine Le Pen, 83 percent support the "yellow vests", dropping slightly to 78 percent among those who support leftwing firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Among Macron voters, 52 percent back the movement.

The Elabe survey of 1,002 people was carried out online Tuesday and Wednesday for BFM television.

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