Europe has gone up in yellow flames. Millions of protestors across the continent are gathering in their respective cities wearing yellow vests to protest against their governments. Britain, Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Poland, Sweden, Bulgaria, Germany and many other countries have erupted in protests.
The yellow vest movement began in France in early Nov. 2018 as tens of thousands of French citizens took to the streets. The “Gilet Jaunes”, or yellow vests, were finally pushed over the edge when French President Marcon passed a new budget with tax reforms that severely hurt the lower and middle classes. They stormed government buildings, started fires and held up the roads.
The French Interior Ministry estimates “136,000 protesters turned out across the country over one weekend, in addition to 280,000 in previous weeks.”
The average French citizen has an income tax burden that is nearly six percent higher than in the United States. And in an effort to be more environmentally conscious, the French government has begun to levy a large carbon tax, taxing each citizen for their daily carbon generating activities.
While French citizens are rising up against taxes, the Gilet Jaunes are beginning a cultural revolution. The working class is tired of being ignored by the elite and politicians.
“[The French economy] doesn’t need the majority of the population to function,” said Christophe Guilluy, a French author and politician. “It has no real need for the manual workers, labourers and even small-business owners outside of the big cities. Paris creates enough wealth for the whole of France and London does the same in Britain. But you cannot build a society around this. The Gilets Jaunes is a revolt of the working classes who live in these places.”
As a result of their discontent with the elite and politicians, French citizens attempted to storm President Macron’s medieval vacation fortress. This act was symbolic of how they once stormed the castles of the dukes, kings, princes and elites during the first French Revolution.
“The fortress has a symbolic value to the protesters who view Macron as the ‘president of the rich’ after he scrapped a super tax on the wealthiest people, while also enjoying the living standards of the rich,” said Lukas Mikelionis, a journalist and contributor to FOX news.
In Britain, hundreds of thousands of citizens protested against their government’s decision to stay in the European Union. Citizens want to leave the EU for reasons that range from immigration to economic policy. For many countries, the biggest issue is the open border policy. When a country decides to give large amounts of refuge to middle eastern and North African refugees, they are free to travel to any country in the EU without question.
Many countries, such as Hungary, have openly defied the EU and erected their own barriers to curb the storm of migrants.
“The Dublin Regulation, the EU’s asylum system, also needs to be overhauled and replaced by a fair and effective alternative,” wrote Antonio Tajani, a writer with The Guardian. “Of the 650,000 asylum applications submitted in 2017; Germany, Italy and France. This glaring injustice is linked to the outdated way in which the regulation works, and languishing reform is contributing to tension between member states.”
These Yellow Vest protests have highlighted the major flaws in the governance of European governments and the EU. The citizens are dissatisfied over their government’s refusal to address the issues that matter to them.
In England, Prime Minister Teresa May has attempted to satisfy the demands of the protestors by proposing a partial split with the EU. However, this has not satisfied the core of the protests, and they continue to protest to this day.
In France, President Macron has attempted to give small concessions to try to calm the masses down. Some regulation demands were met, some tax reforms were considered, yet it has not has its intended calming effect.
“No to globalists; yes to free freedom,” one man shouts in the footage shared on Periscope, before the group collectively raise their voices in a song of “Bye Bye EU”, to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.”
The Yellow Vest protestors are not done with their demands. These grassroots movements are continuing to spread across the continent, and the citizens are just getting started.