France experiences its worst civil unrest since the protests of 1968 due to the yellow vests movement. Protests in Paris morph into riots, with hundreds of people injured and thousands arrested; over 100 cars are burned.

01/12/2018View on timeline

The yellow vests movement or yellow jackets movement is a populist, grassroots political movement for economic justice that began in France in October 2018. After an online petition posted in May had attracted nearly a million signatures, mass demonstrations began on 17 November. The movement is motivated by rising fuel prices, a high cost of living; it claims that a disproportionate burden of the government's tax reforms were falling on the working and middle classes, especially in rural and peri-urban areas. The protesters have called for lower fuel taxes, a reintroduction of the solidarity tax on wealth, a minimum-wage increase, the implementation of Citizens' initiative referendums, as well as the resignations of President Emmanuel Macron and the Second Philippe government.


The movement spans the political spectrum. According to one poll, few of those protesting had voted for Macron in the 2017 French presidential election, and many had either not voted, or had voted for far-right or far-left candidates. Rising fuel prices initially sparked the demonstrations. Yellow high-visibility vests, which French law required all drivers to have in their vehicles and to wear during emergencies, were chosen as "a unifying thread and call to arms" because of their convenience, visibility, ubiquity, and association with working-class industries.


The protests have involved demonstrations and the blocking of roads and fuel depots, some of which developed into major riots, described as the most violent since those of May 1968, and the police response, resulting in multiple incidences of loss of limb, has been criticised by international media. The movement has received international attention, and protesters in many places around the world—some with similar grievances, others unrelated—have used the yellow vest as a symbol.

Yellow vests movement

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Published in 20/05/2019

Updated in 19/02/2021

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