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Macron Blinks in Fuel-Tax Dispute With Yellow Vests

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PARIS—French President Emmanuel Macron suffered the first major setback in his push to overhaul the French economy, backing off a fuel-tax increase that enraged much of the nation and sparked a grass-roots protest movement against his government.

Faced with another weekend of destructive protests by the gilets jaunes—or yellow vests—Prime Minister Édouard Philippe told a press conference on Tuesday that the tax increase would be pushed back six months to allow for public discussion. The worst riots to hit Paris in decades erupted during antigovernment protests on Saturday, leaving the city’s shopping and tourist center dotted with burning cars and damaged storefronts. Protesters vandalized the Arc de Triomphe, rattling Mr. Macron’s administration and the country.


“No tax is worth threatening the unity of the nation,” Mr. Philippe said.


The protests have become a test of Mr. Macron’s resolve to forge ahead with his broader agenda, particularly his plans to make France more business-friendly. The concession marked the first time the Macron government has blinked since the former investment banker took office in the spring of 2017.

Mr. Macron won the presidency on a platform that promised to make the French economy more competitive while also cutting pollution and preserving the nation’s generous social protections. His proposals included reduced jobs protections for workers, higher fuel taxes, cutting red tape for businesses and a repeal of much of France’s wealth tax.


Viva le tax revolution!

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