Turnout for “Yellow Vest” protests in France drops to lowest

PARIS, March 9 (Xinhua) — The “Yellow Vest” movement against French President Emmanuel Macron’s economic reforms lost steam on Saturday as the turnout dropped to its lowest score since it started in November last year.

The Interior Ministry said about 28,600 people demonstrated Saturday at 1700 GMT, including 3,000 in Paris. This was down from a week ago when there were 39,300 protesters out on the streets, 4,000 of which were in Paris.

The spontaneous action had drew 287,710 people when it started four months ago. To quell the discontent, President Macron offered concessions worth 10 billion euros (11.24 billion U.S. dollars) to improve purchasing power and launched a series of public debates that he promised will lead to concrete measures.

Despite signs of weakening, some of “Yellow Vests” had sought to inject fresh blood into the movement this Saturday by staging a “flashmob” at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, where dozens of demonstrators waved French flags, sang and danced in one of the terminals, television footage showed.

As some want more convergence, female protesters wearing pink vests or purple headscarf marched on the Champs Elysees avenue, joining the social action in the capital. Their attendance added color to the movement which, every weekend, has been mingled by dark-wearing troublemakers.

Carrying pink balloons, child-care workers turned out against a government reform of their unemployment subsidies. Other female activists walked behind banners which read out “precarious women, women at war,” or “Equality men women, the account is not here!” to mark Women’s Day.

The 17th protest in a row to denounce high living costs and oppose Macron’s ruling way was marked by a relative lack of violence. Although, few sporadic brief clashes erupted when riot police used water cannon to disperse a group of demonstrators in the Champs Elysees, after scores of hooded people from the hard-left anarchist group, also called as Black Blocs, had infiltrated the rally.

In Paris, 19 people were detained. 12 others, including a minor were also arrested in Caen, northwest France following reported acts of vandalism and violent standoff with police, according to police figures.

The “Yellow Vests” movement, which began in November last year to protest against a rise in fuel tax that Macron said is necessary to combat climate change, has since turned into a bigger uprising denouncing a squeeze on household spending, high living costs caused by the president’s fiscal and economic reforms.

The protestors claimed the reforms favor the rich and do little to the needy.

Meanwhile, an Elabe poll, released on Thursday, found 31 percent of 1,003 respondents questioned between March 5 and 6, were satisfied with the president’s performance, up by four percentage points from a month earlier.