Back in force of anti-Macron hatred, four years after the Yellow Vests

Anti-Macron hatred returns in force, four years after the Yellow Vests


Burnt effigy, call for “regicide”, Emmanuel Macron once again crystallizes hatred after his forced passage on pensions, an escalation that is reminiscent of that of the Yellow Vests even if it remains for the time being contained.

Demonstrators have taken to the streets every evening since the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister decided on Thursday to resort to 49.3 to have this text adopted, engaging the government's responsibility for this flagship reform of Macron's second five-year term.

And, even if Élisabeth Borne is not spared, the person of the Head of State is particularly targeted.

“Macron, we can start again! Louis XVI, Louis XVI we beheaded him!”, chanted young people in Paris and Toulouse.

A head bearing his effigy was also brandished at the end of a wooden handle in a rally in Châteauroux, at the beginning of March.

“Since the Yellow Vests, he has crystallized a lot of resentment and hatred on his person”, notes Anne Muxel, director of research at Sciences Po.

In December 2018, the head of state had been booed and insulted at Le Puy-en-Velay on leaving a prefecture set on fire by demonstrators. “Crève!”, had launched a woman on the passage of the procession.

A year later, a representation of Emmanuel Macron at the end of a pike had aroused the indignation of the former guard of the Seals Robert Badinter.

“A divisive president”

This young president, willingly bravado, from the ENA and the world of banking, quickly embodied arrogance in the eyes of his detractors.

“It's inherent in his person, it's a divisive president, worshiped or hated. And otherwise he would not have been president”, concedes an executive from the presidential camp.

With the Covid crisis in 2020, “anger has taken a back seat, not the defiance. There is again this feeling of the French of not being heard, listened to, ”continues Anne Muxel.

“Whatever crises he has faced, there is a communication problem. He never manages to get messages across,” she adds.

The Yellow Vests movement, born spontaneously to protest against the increase in a fuel tax, had led to blockages of roads and roundabouts and massive gatherings every Saturday, punctuated by violence.

“Above ground”

Obviously, the current crisis “is based on the same extremely deep distrust of political institutions, including local ones”, notes Luc Rouban, research director at the CNRS.

The Vengeance also extends to the deputies who said they were ready to vote for the pension reform and some of whom saw their permanence tagged or stoned.

By opting for 49.3, the executive gives “the image of an isolated, minority power, which expedites parliamentary work” and “launches above-ground policies (far) from the reality of French life”, observes Luc Rouban.

As with the Yellow Vests, this spontaneous anger is also fueled by fears weighing on purchasing power. It remains to be seen whether it will settle in the long term, whether the law is definitively adopted on Monday or not, at the end of the examination of the motions of censure against the Borne government.

After very supervised rallies by the unions in recent weeks, “the mobilization will be reduced, the days will be spaced out and we will meet every Saturday with yellow vests”, predicts a union official, who does not exclude “several months of messy Saturdays until the summer”.

On the government side, we are rather expecting occasional radicalized movements, which will turn public opinion upside down and die out on their own.

“People, they are still aware that we are in an inflationary, economic, perhaps financial crisis, and that at some point we need responsibility,” says a government adviser.