While I was wandering around the centre of Annecy on Saturday I came across a parade of the gilets jaunes – yellow vests – protesting Emmanuel Macron’s fuel tax hike. It was very peaceful, mostly middle aged folk carrying the flag of the Haute Savoie region accompanied by a couple of gendarmes who didn’t look as though they expected trouble. Those marching stopped to natter to locals they passed on the way.
This was in stark contrast to the scenes in Paris over the weekend where cars were tipped over and set on fire, monuments defaced, and shops looted. Judging by the Arabic and anarchist graffiti on display my guess is the yellow vest protest in the capital has been hijacked by the usual troublemakers. In other words, what is going on in Paris isn’t representative of what is happening everywhere else. This is the case for most things in France.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Macron uses the violence in Paris to smear the entire movement. If he does, the division between the capital and the countryside will grow even larger. That won’t be good for anyone.