A good two months after the start of the mass protests by hundreds of thousands in france, some "yellow vests" want to take the plunge into the european parliament.
They want to run with their own list in the european elections in may – led by the well-known "yellow vest" ingrid levavasseur, a 31-year-old nurse from northern france. However, not all "yellow vests" are in favor of the plan. But for french president emmanuel macron and his party, the advance of macron’s opponents need not be a disadvantage.
"We no longer want to be subjected to the decisions of the european authorities, to the dictates of the financial caste and technocrats who have forgotten what is essential: people, solidarity and the planet," reads a statement obtained by several french media outlets. The current list consists of ten names, with 69 more to be added by mid-february.
There has long been speculation in france that the "yellow vests" could run in the european elections. However, the movement, which emerged on social networks, is fragmented and has no leader. Levavasseur, a nurse, was involved in the protests in her region right from the start – she quickly came to the attention of television in france. The station BFMTV offered her a position as a commentator in a broadcast – the 31-year-old finally turned it down because, according to her own statements, she was massively threatened. "You couldn’t even imagine the damage you were doing to people who were fighting for you," she wrote on facebook.
Within the "yellow vests," levavasseur is more of the moderate wing of the movement, unlike eric drouet, for example, who likes to provoke, has been arrested several times during protests and is very active on social networks. Yellow vest" maxime nicolle, who calls himself "fly rider," has also become popular in france, especially via the internet – he has now accused levavasseur on facebook of betraying her supporters. The european elections are part of the system that the "yellow vests" actually wanted to fight. Levavasseur is also sharply attacked by users on her facebook page for her plans. By running in the european elections, she is playing macron’s game and that of his vassals, one wrote. "They divide the movement and please the government"."
Levavasseur and her followers are not the only "yellow vests" drawn from traffic circles into politics, however. Jacline mouraud, another prominent face of the movement and more moderate, had announced, for example, that she wanted to found her own party. She is currently working on this, she said in an interview with deutsche presse-agentur. According to her own statements, she has also repeatedly received threats. The fragmentation of the "yellow vests" reflects the fragmentation of french society as a whole, she said.
Levavasseur is supported by hayk shahinyan, who now heads the campaign and had previously co-founded a successful "yellow vests" facebook page. "We have managed to bring together all those who want to continue this fight. I am very confident that we will be the list that most represents the different initiatives," he said in an interview with BFMTV.
French government spokesman benjamin griveaux buried the advance of the "yellow vests". He said he was pleased that the movement now wanted to come up with concrete proposals that voters could vote on. The right-wing populist marine le pen also explained that she and her party were not afraid of the political competition. According to observers, however, a "yellow vest" list in the may election cost the right-wing votes more than anything else.
According to a recent poll by the opinion research institute elabe, macron’s party, la republique en marche, would have 23.5 percent if the "yellow vests" did not run. Le pens rassemblement national ended up at 20.5 percent. It’s a different story when the "yellow vests" are involved: they themselves directly won 13 percent of the vote. Macron’s party was set to lose one percentage point, le pens RN three percentage points. According to the poll, the right-wing populists were the biggest losers of the "yellow vest" advance.
Macron, meanwhile, is trying to score points with the french away from the metropolises. The 41-year-old took part uninvited in a civic debate on reforms in the evening near the southern french town of valence. According to the radio news channel franceinfo he said that he stands by his policy. The former investment banker also defended his past in the business world. "I am not an heir," he said. He did not come from a banking family or a political family.
The "yellow vest" movement had plunged macron into the most serious crisis of his term in office so far. Since mid november, tens of thousands of people have been demonstrating again and again against the head of state’s reform policies and against what is perceived as too low a level of purchasing power. Time and again there were riots.