An historic moment may be greeting France as an endless stream of citizens (pictured above) have covered the streets of Paris.
To the tune of drums and slogans, dressed with high visibility vests, a somewhat festive atmosphere and a generally very peaceful atmosphere is currently ongoing.
On some balconies they fly the yellow vests while protesters move through the streets of Paris. Some have children with them, dogs, music, even a massive cross is being carried.
The organizers say they expect one million to show up. The police says it is just 5,000 in Paris. That’s the reported number of policemen on duty, because as far as protesters are concerned, one can’t see an end to their numbers on the livestream.
It does look like a turning point with nothing like this seen in Western Europe within living memory.
So far it all seems very peaceful, although there was an attack on a Press member by what looked like a black shirt. It seems like the press member was hit, with it unclear at this stage as to what media station he belongs to.
Some yellow vesters complain of bias by some media coverage, but physical attacks on press freedom serve no one.
The movement is and has remained largely peaceful with the atmosphere currently appearing somewhat festive. As night descends, however, that may change.
Last Saturday, video footages show what can be described as psychological warfare between what yellow vesters remained and riot gear police.
As a quite effective tool, the yellow vesters utilized fireworks aimed mostly towards the sky above the police. The bang and then the flash so in a way making it all appear like a non-physically aimed war zone.
The police on their hand had flash bullets. That has led to many injuries and a debate in France over what some criticize as a heavy handed approach.
Both sides appear to have smoke bombs. Police throw them towards yellow vesters, yellow vesters kick them back towards the police or in some cases appear to throw new smoke bombs towards them.
Meaning there is a high level of organization and planning going-on on the yellow vesters’ part. There may also be assistance from police defectors as it isn’t clear otherwise where they’re getting these smoke bombs.
The movement has the support of effectively all of France, some 80% according to some polls. It appears to have begun on or around November 20th when workers who had blockaded the Saint-Nazaire shipyard issued a communique calling for a nationwide economic blockade.
“Our goal is to regain decision making power for the people,” they said. That remains their number one demand. Citizens initiated referendums and/or, perhaps in combination, a jury style people’s parliament.
Macron has launched a national debate to address those two questions and many others. Yellow vesters, however, are apparently boycotting it or claiming to do so as they fear it may be just a distraction to take steam off the growing movement.
Meaning the only potential way this can be resolved is by Macron announcing two binding referendums. A yes or no on a jury style house of parliament which may as well be called the yellow room, and a yes or no on citizens’ initiated referendums.
Whether that would take them off the streets and into debating halls where there can be some outcome that matters, is not ver clear. If it doesn’t, however, one would have to ask whether they’re actually aiming for the overthrowing of the government and if that is the case one would have to ask whether that would be smart at all.
Reforms are necessary, but gradual and peaceful reforms. That would probably have the support of the entire nation. The sort of reforms that close our schools would probably not have such support unless all other possible means have been tried and have failed.
They haven’t so far because the obvious solution here is a referendum on those two questions. Then there can be debates as there would actually be a point to them.
Meaning the ball is now very much on Macron’s court. For France and for Europe, he should call those two binding referendums as soon as possible. Then we can see the yellow vesters’ response.
We can’t see how it could be anything else than organizing to campaign for a yes vote. They do afterall want “decision making power for the people.” That’s what the two binding referendums would be. So, there would probably no longer be any reason for them to take to the streets any longer.
If, on the other hand, such binding referendums are not given, then the movement will probably only grow. That has obvious risks because if it grows to a point where some of them actually gain power, no one knows who they are or what they’d do with it.
While where it concerns the two questions, no one cares who they are because it would give “decision making power for the people.” So “they” wouldn’t be deciding anything, but all of France.
A France that currently has very good reasons to be quite optimistic, and yet at the same time has to guard against potential dangers.
Dangers that would probably cease instantly if the two binding referendums are called, leaving France only with optimism. A France that may well be leading the world again now more than two centuries on.
A France that, if Macron cares for it, should be in campaign mode over the two binding referendums, rather than on the streets.
What you waiting for Macron? Don’t you hear the people sing? Call the referendums. Open the real debate.