Doubts greet Macron letter to quell French yellow vest anger

PARIS — Yellow vest protesters and political rivals have criticized a sweeping “letter to the French” from President Emmanuel Macron as not going far enough to quell national anger at his policies.

Macron’s letter explains how he’s addressing the anti-government movement concerns through a “grand debate” in local meetings around the country and on the internet starting Tuesday. The debate will focus on taxes, public services, climate change and democracy.

Yellow vest representative Jeremy Clement told BFM television Monday that the letter “settles part of the problem” but doesn’t go far enough to address sinking purchasing power.

Protester Jerome Rodrigues told CNews television that Macron failed to recognize “the urgency” of concerns of low-income workers and retirees.

Others criticized Macron for ruling out a restoration of France’s wealth tax on households with assets above 1.3 million euros ($1.5 million).

Opposition leaders also criticized the letter.

In his letter, Macron says there are no prohibited topics and lists more than 30 questions.

He suggests the French can express their views on which taxes should be lowered, what solutions there are for reducing the price of travel, heating and food, and whether mandatory voting and reducing the number of lawmakers should be considered.

He also mentions the possibility of introducing annual immigration quotas, saying it would not apply to asylum status.

He stresses that “we will not abandon measures we have taken … to encourage investment and make the work pay more.”

The French leader said the debate would help the government develop policies and France’s position on the European and international scene.

The debate comes as the yellow vest movement appeared to gain new momentum this weekend. The French Interior Ministry said about 84,000 people turned out on Saturday for the ninth straight round of demonstrations across France, up from 50,000 the previous week.

Thierry Paul Valette, founder of a group called “yellow vests citizens” told the AP the yellow vests would have “no break. The mobilizations continue.”

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