TEHRAN (defapress)- French President Emmanuel Macron stated on Monday that his economic reforms, which had sparked mass demonstrations by a popular movement known as the "Yellow Vests", will go ahead regardless of the dissent.
News ID: 74696
Publish Date: 01January 2019 - 16:11
"We have lived through great rifts [this year] and a rising anger," the French president said in his New Year's address, according to The Independent.
"This anger tells us one thing: that we as nation are not resigned," he added.
"In recent years, we've engaged in a blatant denial of reality," he stressed, justifying the reforms. "We can't work less, earn more, cut taxes and increase spending."
Speaking about the reforms, Macron underscored that the effect of the reforms "cannot be immediate", but argued that "impatience cannot allow for any renunciation".
"Ultraliberal and financial capitalism, too often guided by short term interests, is heading towards its demise," Macron stated.
According to the French president, the people of France fail to appreciate the benefits they already enjoy.
"We live in one of the world's greatest economies, our infrastructures are among the best in the world, we pay little or nothing towards our children's education, our healthcare costs are among the lowest of any developed country and give us access to some of the best doctors," Macron said.
Talking about the protests, he berated those who "take the pretext of speaking in the name of the people" in what France24 called a "thinly veiled jab at politicians who have sought to ride the 'Yellow Vest' wave."
"They are only the mouthpieces of a hateful crowd", who attack "elected representatives, security forces, journalists, Jews, foreigners, homosexuals," he addedd.
"[They] are quite simply the negation of France," Macron noted.
Giving his speech from an unusual standing position — a contrast to him usually sitting behind his table — Macron denied the possibility of referendums on major policy decisions and the ousting of elected representatives, moves that the Yellow Vests are calling for.
"The people is sovereign and it expresses itself at elections," he said, adding that "we are a state under the rule of law".
This year was a particularly bad one for Emmanuel Macron, who rode in on a wave of popularity after his election in 2017, and entered 2018 with an approval rating of approximately 40%; this had plunged to 20% by December.
Macron had initially been blasted for tax cuts for employers and the wealthy, which immediately earned him the nickname "President of the Rich", The New York Times reported.
Arguably the most powerful blow was the so-called Benalla Affair, in which Macron's bodyguard Alexandra Benalla was caught on video beating protesters. The scandal resurfaced with reports that Benalla had continued to travel on diplomatic passports and exchange messages with Macron long after his dismissal.
Macron also lost two of his prominent ministers within a rather short time span. In August, popular environment minister Nicolas Hulot resigned abruptly, followed by interior minister Gérard Collomb.
November saw the onset of the notorious Yellow Vests rallies, initially prompted by rising fuel prices. They quickly evolved into a general protest against Macron's economic reforms and were accompanied by the destruction of state property, looting and traffic disruptions across France.