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The Debate

Yellow Vests: What's the answer? No end in sight to violent deadlock

New Year, same impasse in France. After a Christmas lull, France's Yellow Vest protests again turned violent this past Saturday with viral images of a protester boxing riot police in Paris, the battering of the gates of a government ministry, a house boat restaurant on the Seine set alight, and more violence and destruction in several cities. Why the violence? How do you respond when it's a leaderless movement with no crowd control service and no clear organiser?

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An estimated 4,000 Yellow Vests turned out in Paris last Saturday - much more than the previous week, much less than the big protests of late November and early December. After government concessions on fuel taxes and other issues, what does the movement want now? Demands are as disparate as its political support, which ranges from the far-right to the far-left.

On Wednesday, the government is launching public hearings to list protesters' demands. A talk shop that's sure to flop? Or can dialogue herald a breakthrough in a France where we're now discovering that the decline of trade unions and political parties have left a vacuum between citizens and a young president, who to get elected broke the old system and now finds himself alone at the top?

Produced by Andrew HILLIAR, Laure FOURQUET and James VASINA

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