Economy

One dead, dozens injured in fuel tax protests around France

One dead, dozens injured in fuel tax protests around France

106 people have been injured as demonstrators blockaded major roads, causing gridlock in the process.

A woman protester in her 50s was killed Saturday after being struck by a auto in the southeastern French region of Savoie during protests over a new petrol tax, with five others sustaining serious injuries throughout the day after being hit by cars, and over 220 suffering less serious injuries, according to police.

"This is what we were anxious about. unorganised demonstrations by people who aren't necessarily used to such things", Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said in a statement.

At a blockade on a road in the southeastern department of Savoie, a driver panicked when protesters surrounded her vehicle and she accelerated, hitting and killing a woman demonstrator, the French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said in televised comments.

The protestors, whose movement has no real leaders and is not being officially backed by trades unions or political parties, were in general not stopping cars completely, but have established "filtered roadblocks" to slow down traffic flow.

Police appeared close to losing control around the Elysee Palace at one point, with protesters singing Le Marseillaise and shouting demands for President Emmanuel Macron to resign.

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The "yellow vests" movement, named for the high-visibility jackets worn by supporters, erupted on social media last month with calls for blockades of roads and highways.

Macron's popularity has plunged, hovering around 30 per cent.

The movement enjoys much more public support than others against Macron since he swept to the presidency a year ago. In September, a poll by the Institute of Opinion and Marketing Studies found that just 31 percent of the French public approved of the president's performance over his one and a half years in office.

Over 280,000 people took to streets across France on Saturday in over 2,000 separate demonstrations across the country over government plans to introduce a new gas tax.

Protesters say he is neglecting the lower and middle classes, pointing to tax cuts for high earners and companies.

With nearly 80 per cent of the public backing the "yellow vest" protests, the president held a crisis meeting to find ways of softening the impact on the poor and came up with a raft of sweeteners worth around €500 million.

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He said: "I think [the taxes] are not about the environment - it's for the money".

The government last week announced a series of measures to try to quell the anger over fuel prices, including energy subsidies and higher bonuses towards cleaner vehicles.

"We've had enough of it".

The taxes are part of Macron's strategy of weaning France off fossil fuels.

People block the traffic of Paris' landmark Avenue des Champs Elysees and place Charles de Gaulle-Etoile on November 17, 2018 in Paris. "You can't make it to the end of the month even with two salaries".

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