This is not to deny nor even minimize the movement, but it is necessary to be able to analyze one of the reasons for its media success. This is where violence has played an important role, since it has been the driving force behind the double instrumentalization that has fueled the phenomenon in recent weeks. The movement has been instrumentalized by anti-Republican forces of the extreme left, the extreme right, by thieves - and therefore thugs - and these three categories of groups attack city centres, terrorize, and carry out massive thefts or damage to public and private property. They exploit the movement, which is in a way a "human shield" for their criminal activities. And I refer to a double or reciprocal instrumentalization, because the movement itself, in a perfectly cynical way and of course without anyone assuming responsibility, is using this situation and the violence of these groups to impress the public authorities, while telling them "I had nothing to do with it".
One month in, this movement is not structured, and does not seem to want to structure itself, in the sense that each time a leader appears to emerge, immediately he or she reveals that they are being pressured or threatened with violence, causing them to withdraw. When "yellow vests" appear on television sets, we discover most of the time that they have a past, generally rooted in the extremes. For some it is that of student unionists, for others it is numerous traces left on social networks of belonging to extreme left, or more often identity-based, movements.
In this context, there are many attempts at instrumentalization by political forces that have lost control, such as the far left wing party La France Insoumise or a part of the left. The National Rally, the far right wing party, is doing better. A poll conducted on 5 and 6 December revealed that if the European elections were to be held now, with a list of "yellow jackets", Macron’s majority party La République En Marche would receive a respectable 21%, the National Rally would resist but would lose 3 points, just like La France Insoumise (this party finishing with less than 10%, behind LREM, the NR, Europe Ecology - The Greens and the "yellow jackets").
Does this constitute a change of course in the policy pursued over the past two years? Do the contradictions within the government herald a forced reshuffle?
In an attempt to regain control, President Macron wanted to show a change of stance and a form of openness towards demands which, it is true, have seduced the hearts of the French, who have been complaining about the tax burden that has been weighing on them for a very long time (we know that today it is among the most onerous in the OECD and the EU). This was already the case in 2012, with the tax increases decided by François Hollande. In fact, the problem comes from there: since 2012, public opinion has rightly considered itself the victim of a tax policy that stifles households and businesses.
The President wished to address the public beyond the "yellow vests" in order to re-establish the link that is that of a President with the French people. The first indicators available today show a first turnaround in public opinion, even if it continues to be the subject of strong sympathy. Is this the effect of the government response? Are people tired? Is it the proximity to holidays? There has been no regrouping with the demands of the high school students (unclear and expressed very violently), nor of the university students (in this case, the student unions, reduced to very little, try to exist without really succeeding).
We are in a situation marked both by violence in urban areas and by the weariness of an increasing number of French people with regard to an extraordinarily worrying cycle of violence, started in recent weeks and fueled by social networks, the continuous media and extremist political strategies. The reality is that in this exceptional situation, all citizens who care about the Republic agreed on the need to renew the dialogue - a gesture was expected from the President, and it took place.