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December 06, 2018

Update: Macron Cancels Fuel Tax Hike Completely, Humiliating His PM Who Spoke Only of Suspension; Government in Crisis As Fear of Extreme-Right/Extreme-Left Radical Violence and Even a "Putsch" Grows

There's a lot here.

This is from Le Figaro. This is one of France's two top daily general-interest papers. I don't know if they are known for writing jumped-up, overly dramatic stuff or not. I know there's some of that in French papers, but this seems... dire.

Apparently they realized that people thought their first offer of a "suspension" of the tax was just a trick, and that they planned to immediately impose the tax at the earliest practicable opportunity.

People thought that because that, of course, was exactly the plan.

But now Macron says he's abandoning the hikes completely.

But there's more. A lot more. Macron's more definitive statement was prodded, some in his government say, by fear that there will be a union of extreme left and extreme right radicals to kill government officials and politicians and cops; a "putsch" is feared.

"Yellow Jackets:" Macron cancels the hikes in taxes and corrects Phillipe

That would be Edouard Phillipe, the Prime Minister, and who earlier spoke only of a "suspension" of the gas tax hikes.

L'Elysee [the French White House] has finally decided to abandon entirely and simply the increase planned for 2019. A true repudiation for the Prime Minister.

The below-the-surface differences just burst out into broad daylight. Between Emmanuel Macron and Edouard Phillipe, the stakes are now set. "There's a difference in the each man's course them that is no longer sustainable," said a major player in the [leglislative] Majority. And for that reason, less than 24 hours after the announcement by the Prime Minister of a fiscal pause for six months on the [taxes on] gas and diesel, l'Elysee announced Tuesday night the abandonment pure and simple of the increase initially planned. "The president understood that this notion of a moratorium was considered by the people a half-step, and he considered that we wouldn't have the right to suggest it. [I think they mean: Suggest the possibility of going back on the suspension and re-instituting the tax.] It would be a step too far," said the close advisers of the chief of state this evening.

At the same moment, the National Assembly however reached its fifth hour of debate and readied itself to vote mostly in favor the declaration of Edouard Philippe, who would try again for a "solution... at the end of debate." Put another way, the prime minister left open two options, including the one reestablishing the increase of the famous "carbon tax." This was not the view of l'Elysse. "Except for some stroke of genius in six months, we are not going back to that. For now, one cannot say that it is 'suspended,' because it doesn't even exist. We use then the term 'cancellation,'" reassured the House [a nickname for l'Elysse]. In short, two chimes from very different clocks at the highest level of the State.

More than a simple maess, it was a true repudiation. The presdient had himself picked up his phone to ask Francois de Rugy to relay the new version live on the channel BFMTV. Thus, after having confirmed that the gas tax hikes were "cancelled for the year 2019," the Minister of the Ecological and Interdependence Transition [yeah, I know, these Ministries, huh?] reported the conversation that he'd had some minutes later with the president. "The president told me: 'the people had the impression that this was a trick, that we would tell them this is a suspension but then Pow!, it's back after (the Europeans) [After the European EU elections, they mean.] But with the new word 'cancellation', there isn't a trick," he cleanly decided.

Matignon taken by surprise

At Matignon [basically the White House for the PM], the change in stance of Emmanuel Macron went off like a bomb. Caught flat-footed by the news, the cabinet of the prime minister tried, Tuesday night, to put out the beginnings of an wildfire. "We work in a very close fashion with l'Eyssee. There is a perfect alignment between the prime minister and the president," went the argument. Likewise at l'Elysee where, at the end of then night, a communique -- official, this time --assuring that the two executives spoke together "in concert." It didn't prevent this incident from leaving deep tracks. And to also pose the question of knowing how l'Eysee had decided to brutally seize control.

Okay, that's the "Government in disarray" part of the article.

Now comes the "Government in fear' part. This is some scary stuff.

Tuesday evening, some explanations regarding security were implicitly suggested. Some alarmist information circulated about the protests on Saturday. And notably the about the degree of unprecedented violence that these protests might reach, fomented by a "hard, radicalized cell" originating "simultaneously from the extreme right and the extreme left."

The "Calls to Kill"

The intelligence services would have [see below] bluntly signaled to l'Eyssee "calls to kill and to arm themselves with guns for attacking the legislators, the government, the executive, and the police forces." According to our information, an important minister had even received an order to forbid his workers and associated ministers from showing up at work this weekend. "There are putschists [revolutionaries, e.g., Hitler's putsch]. We are in an attempted putsch," was put forward to us in the most serious manner in the world at the presidential palace.

Note that French newspapers resort to this tentative "would" or "would have" tense when they are re-reporting stuff other papers have said and cannot confirm themselves, or are unsure of it for other reasons.

One thing is sure, the "Act IV" of the movement of the "Yellow Jackets" can be a turning point if Paris is set to fire again. "If there are ten deaths this weekend, int unot sure that we could keep the Minister of the Interior," whispered someone close to the head of state. The perspective of a cabinet reshuffling markedly larger [than getting rid of the Minister of the Interior] begins to circulate in an insistent fashion. To the point of changing the prime minister? "In the best of cases, there must be a new government before the European elections. In the worst, before Christmas," said a macronist of the inner circle.

The word used to describe the order that ministers should not go to work this weekend was consigne, which, interestingly and perhaps importantly, has a secondary meaning of an order specifically confining soldiers to barracks.

Well I don't know that to make of that. We've heard claims of this "Extreme Right/Extreme Left" union before, and it didn't seem like it actually was a union -- just opportunists both seizing on chaos to commit violence and vandalism for independent reasons.

I don't know how seriously France is taking this idea, or how seriously we should take it.

I don't know how serious these whispers of a "putsch" are, or the threats to kill politicians, workers, and cops, but I guess you can't take chances.

So: Those are the reasons reported for the shift in France from a mere "suspension" of the gas tax to a full-on cancellation, abandonment, burial at sea of it.

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posted by Ace of Spades at 11:50 AM

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