PARIS – A third week of protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s government intensified in violence on Saturday, as demonstrators in Paris burned cars, crushed windows and confronted riot police responding by shooting tear gas in the most serious crisis of the French leadership administration.
The protests – diffuse, seemingly leaderless and organized over the internet as a spontaneous boast of high taxes and lowered living standards – took a potentially more sinister turn because they joined extremists left and right, anarchists and organized labor, all trying capitalize on the lame dissatisfaction.
Total support for the “yellow vests” movement showed no signs of diminishing and the government seemed fluttered over how to respond. It did not help the government that Mr Macron was 7.000 miles away in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the group of 20 economic summits.
What began as a tense protest around the Arc of Triumph, came into violent insurgency at several lightning points in central Paris. Early evening, about 80 people had been injured, including 14 police officers, and 183 people had been arrested, according to the police.
“We are bound by freedom of expression, but also respect for the law,” said Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who made a distinction between those who had been prepared to fight the police and those with which the government was willing to speak.
“I’m shocked at the violence of such a symbol for France,” he said, referring to the clashes around the Arc of Triumph and graffiti sprayed on the one who reads “Yellow Jackets will triumph”.
Certain protests in Paris and elsewhere in the country were peaceful.
It was two weeks in the protests before the government, which had given the protesters a cold shoulder, agreed to meet them. First, government officials offered to increase subsidies to buy fuel efficient cars and install less polluting household heating systems, but the demonstrators showed that it was insufficient because many do not have enough money to buy a subsidized car too.
Mr. Philippe then called a meeting with Yellow West representatives before November 30th. But since the movement has no leader or even some representatives, it was unclear who he invited. As a result, only one or two yellow vests appeared on Philippe’s formal residence at Matignon, a magnificent house in the Paris chic 7th district.
The meeting was “interesting, open and respectful,” Philippe said.
But the “open door” was underestimated by other ministers, as publicly stated, that there would be no support for the government’s new gas taxes.
The good police, bad police do not go well. A large group of yellow vests in Paris marched peacefully with a banner that said “Macron, stop taking us for stupid people.”
Asked about this referred to the government’s mixed message, one of the marches that held the edge of the banner said, “Of course, who do he think we are?”
In many ways the streets weakened on Saturday in Paris while they grabbed television, the seriousness of the movement and its importance to the government. French politicians are used to dealing with violent demonstrations: they occur several times each year, especially in Paris. Sometimes they are associated with union strikes but more often as part of broader protests.
It is harder for the government to deal with the Yellow Wests representing a broader turn of the French population than any union and includes many who have
It is of course possible that reservoirs of supporters do not become activists, but if they did would the government be difficult to cope with.
President Emmanuel Macron’s dilemma is that earlier, when French presidents, under pressure from the French street, have reduced their tax programs and moderate tax and other expenditure proposals, they are seen as weak and unable to make meaningful change.
Mr.. Macron, whose campaign and now his government has been built on the promise to make the necessary reforms on France’s labor market and social costs, would see his dream of returning wealth to France and making it a 21st century economy, at least briefly.
The problem, says Bernard Sananès, president of Elabe, a French electoral organization, is that “there are two Frances”.
“One is a France who feels behind and walks down” the socio-economic steps, he said in an interview on December 1 at BFMTV, a French news channel.
A study released last week by Jean Jaurès Institute, a think tank for public policy, said: “Previously, these people could have given themselves a little entertainment, today, the little” extras “are out of reach.”
Several surveys of public opinion released during the past week indicate that 70 percent to 80 percent of French people sympathize with the Yellow West’s claim that President Emmanuel Macron and his government “talk about the end of the world when we talk about the end of the month.”  The slogan of the movement refers to Mr Macron’s focus on reducing climate change by promoting fuel efficiency and raising gas taxes as opposed to French-working people as the struggle to make it to the end of its month on their profits.
The Yellow Wests draw their constituency from the majority of French who have seen their home wages more and more run by their living expenses. France, however, is significantly better than those in Eastern Europe, according to Eurostat, the European Union statistical arm.
The available median income for a person in a French household amounted to 1 700 euros a month, approximately 1,923 dollars, in 2016, the latest year for which statistics are available, according to Insee, the French government’s statistical arm.
Disposable income reflects the amount remaining for workers to spend on their daily needs – housing, food, school, clothing – after payment of income tax and payroll fees and adjustments for any government subsidies that they may be eligible for.
Often, the only way to force the cost of moving to the big cities challenges, where property prices are much lower, but where workers generally have to rely on a car to get to work and for cases. Cars need gas and then an increase in gas tax can hit them. Taxes have also increased on tobacco products and other goods.
For farm workers and those living in remote small villages in the heart of France, a car is even clearer a necessity.
Centrist politicians, including some who support Mr Macron, are beginning to pursue a more committed response from the government.
“You can not control the people,” said François Bayrou, leader of the moderate democrats in parliament, who is partner of Mr Macron Les Republiques A Marche party in an interview on Europe 1.
He said he did was not sure about the answer, but he said the government can not keep “adding taxes on top of taxes”.