French President Emmanuel Macron will hold an emergency meeting of senior ministers on Sunday following the worst unrest Paris has seen in a decade on Saturday. Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told France’s Europe 1 radio that a state of emergency may be imposed to prevent “serious outbursts of violence” after thousands of masked “Yellow Vest” protesters fought with police, and set fires to cars, houses and banks.
The Jeu de Paume – one of best art galleries in Paris – is on fire. A mob is storming through the Tuleries Garden. pic.twitter.com/pHaPJxI3Yt
— Peter Allen (@peterallenparis) December 1, 2018
Griveaux said that around 1,000 and 1,500 protesters joined Saturday’s demonstrations “only to fight with the police, to break and loot,” and that the violent element “have nothing to do with the yellow vests” (aside from wearing yellow vests?).
Demonstrators on Saturday were filmed destroing a police van and other vehicles, while other videos showed burning cars and police firing tear gas to break up the protests.
The reported size of the protest has varied between 36,000 and 75,000 yellow vests, while last week saw over 110,000 protesters at the Champs-Elysées in central Paris. Over 400 arrests were made and 113 injured in Saturday’s unrest which began three weeks ago over a hike in diesel taxes, but has grown to a general protest of Macron and his government.
Macron’s popularity rating has plummeted to just 26%, while opinion polls for the 2019 parliament elections predict that right-wing Marine Le Pen’s Nationall Rally party will be level – or far ahead – from Macron’s La République En Marche.