Why the ‘Yellow Vests’ Are a Red Flag for France’s Macron—and the EU

Why the ‘Yellow Vests’ Are a Red Flag for France’s Macron—and the EU
A demonstrator waves the French flag near a burning barricade on the Champs Elysees, Paris, Nov. 24, 2018 (AP photo by Michel Euler).

Editor’s Note: Richard Gowan’s column will appear on Wednesday this week.

PARIS—How do you respond to a protest movement that has no organized leadership, began a month ago with one overriding demand but has since morphed into an expression of generalized discontent, and is grabbing headlines around the world? If you have an answer, French President Emmanuel Macron would almost certainly like to hear from you.

For the second weekend in a row, protests by the Gilets Jaunes—or “Yellow Vests”—blocked roads and retail centers in cities around the country. Though the protesters’ numbers fell compared to the previous weekend, the images of pitched battles between demonstrators and police on the Champs Elysees were more striking and perhaps more disruptive this time around, when the streets of Paris were packed with holiday shoppers.

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