What next for the gilets jaunes (“yellow vests”) movement? Will it continue to spread beyond France? Or is it losing steam? The movement, which began as a series of (sometimes violent) French streets protests, has seen copycats spring up in several EU countries, from Belgium and Germany, to Poland and Portugal. In Britain, several public figures have recently been harassed by far-right activists calling themselves “Yellow Vests UK”.
Most of the copycat demonstrations have been relatively small in scale, comprised of hundreds of people, not hundreds of thousands. Even the main protest movement in France is greatly reduced from its peak, with roughly 50,000 people protesting in January 2019 so far, well below the peak in November 2018 when over 300,000 people came out onto the streets.
The scenes of carnage, rioting, and looting in Paris have certainly lost the yellow vests some public sympathy, and a recent French poll found President Macron’s approval rating has edged up 5% since November. Nevertheless, the yellow vests have sent shockwaves through European politics, and politicians hoping the movement will lose momentum and fade away will likely be disappointed.
Are the yellow vests becoming a Europe-wide movement? Or are the protests becoming tainted by association with street violence and the far-right? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!