Yellow Vest movement struggles to develop as a political force

France’s Yellow Vest movement, which has dominated the national headlines in recent months after staging large, and at times violent, public protests in the historic centre of Paris is attempting to launch a political party in a bid to capitalise on the attention that the movement has received from the international press, but the prospect of actually gaining true political clout has proved to be polarising for a sceptical French public..

The movement had hoped to mobilise support from outside their base with what they called a “Citizen-led-rally”, or Ralliement d’initiative citoyenne in French, a political platform that would field 10 candidates in the upcoming European Elections scheduled for May.

That plan, however, appeared to be in disarray by January 30 after campaign chief Hayk Shahinyan and candidate Marc Dunoyer both abruptly resigned after responding to criticism from several Yellow Vest hardliners who said that the two were betraying the anti-establishment character of the movement by opting to run in EU elections.

Dunoyer later told the French press that he had received death threats from unknown individuals after it became publicly known that he supported President Emmanuel Macron during the 2017 Presidential campaign.

Macron has been the focal point for much of the Yellow Vests’ ire and is often held up by the movement as a symbol of an out-of-touch privileged France that is disconnected from the social democratic roots of the modern Fifth Republic.

One of the Yellow Vest movement’s public personas, Jacline Mourad, held a press conference in the wake of the two resignations and announcing her own political platform that she dubbed “The Emerging” (Les Émergents). Mourad said she will not field a candidate in the upcoming European Elections. but promises to organise a consultation process that would focus on how to better distribute of the wealth of the country.

A recently conducted poll suggested that the Yellow Vests, who are also known by the French Gilets Jaunes, could emerge as a political platform with up to 13% of the popular vote. The movements first emerged as an organised protest group in November 2018 who opposed fuel taxes and the high cost of living in France.

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