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French President Macron’s speech a ‘key factor’ behind reduced Yellow Vest turnout

FRANCE 24 screen grab

French President Emmanuel Macron’s concessions to appease Yellow Vest protesters on Monday were a major reason for the reduced turnout in ‘Act 5’ of the protests on Saturday, said Andrew Smith, French politics specialist at Chichester University.

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“If you look at the estimations of the numbers, it’s down by about half from last week,” Smith told FRANCE 24.

“There’s clearly a reduced desire to take to the streets and protest,” he continued. “I think one of the key factors is that we had the Macron speech – the big address to the nation – on Monday. That was important: he took a lot of ownership for the problems [at the root of the protests], he admitted mistakes, and he legitimised the protesters’ complaints, and he introduced some tangible measures to remedy them.”

Smith also suggested another, more prosaic explanation for the Yellow Vests’ loss of momentum for their fifth week of protests: “The weather is a big point. People always talk about the fact that in Russia in 1917, one of the reasons for the Revolution was a surprisingly mild October. We’re starting to see the weather turn and people are a little bit less keen to take to the streets.”

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