French government to review tax on high-earners

Gasoline prices in California August 2012

Gasoline prices in California August 2012

The protests began last month with motorists upset over the fuel tax hike, but have grown to encompass a range of complaints, with protesters claiming that Macron's government doesn't care about the problems of ordinary people.

Macron is a 40-year-old former investment banker and economy minister.

He has not commented since the price hike was suspended on Tuesday, but Mr Philippe said the government would have to be "deaf or blind" not to recognise that the policy was widely unpopular.

"No tax is worth jeopardizing the unity of the nation", the prime minister said. He also announced that electricity and natural gas prices will not increase before May 2019. Pressure has been mounting after the grassroots "yellow vest" movement degenerated into fiery street clashes and vandalism in Paris over the weekend, leading to scores of injuries and arrests.

Four people have been killed and hundreds injured in accidents linked to the nationwide road blockades and protests, which are playing havoc with traffic in the busy run-up to Christmas.

For weeks Macron held his ground on the fuel taxes, which are meant to finance anti-pollution policies but critics say unfairly weigh on drivers in rural and small-town France.

"If a measure that we have taken, which is costing the public money, turns out not to be working, if it's not going well, we're not stupid - we would change it", he said.

Mouraud said each of the disparate protesting groups will decide what to do next, but many will probably keep protesting. "If at the end of these discussions no good solutions have been found, we will accept the consequences" Mr Griveaux said.

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Eric Drouet, another spokesman in the movement, said before the announcement from President Macron, "A tax freeze does not change the living conditions in the immediate future".

French President Emmanuel Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron

Mr Trump wrote on Twitter: "I am glad that my friend @EmmanuelMacron and the protestors in Paris have agreed with the conclusion I reached two years ago". Some 4,500 police officers were deployed to deal with about 10,000 protesters in Paris alone.

Paris Saint-Germain's home Ligue 1 football match against Montpellier on Saturday has already been called off, as has an electro music festival in the city centre.

But that policy, along with various comments deemed insensitive to ordinary workers, has prompted numerous ex-banker's critics to label him a "president of the rich". Mr. Macron was heckled late on Tuesday as he visited a burned-out government building in central France, hours after a new opinion poll showed his approval rating at just 23%.

Macron and his government appealed for calm Wednesday, and signalled they were ready to make further concessions to avoid more violence.

In the wake of calls for a large mobilisation on Saturday, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner urged "responsible" protesters not to descend on Paris.

"The French who have donned yellow vests want taxes to drop, and work to pay".

The protests prevailed on French President Emmanuel Macron, who campaigned on a platform of setting an example for the world in cutting greenhouse gases, to postpone implementation of the carbon tax proposal for six months.

Philippe made it known that "the tax is now abandoned" in the 2019 budget.

Among people who vote for far-right leader Marine Le Pen, 83 percent support the "yellow vests", dropping slightly to 78 percent among those who support leftwing firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon.

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