PARIS — After wrapping up thousands of town hall meetings, France starts a new chapter of its "great debate," aimed to address longstanding public grievances and offer solutions to the yellow vest protest movement.
But the broader crisis lingers, seen with upsurge of violence in Paris Saturday, where about 10,000 yellow vests marked their 18th straight week of protests.
Demonstrators smashed and looted businesses on the iconic Champs Elysees and hurled cobble stones at police, who responded with tear gas and water cannons. Others participated in a peaceful climate march that brought together tens of thousand of people—underscoring the diffuse, unorganized complexity of the leaderless protest movement.
Gloom Lifts in Elysee as Townhall Debates Re-energize Macron
Eight weeks of citizen debates, launched in January by an embattled President Emmanuel Macron, have received mixed reviews. Some consider them a groundbreaking experiment in participative democracy. Others dismiss them as a public relations stunt.
The bigger question is whether and how Macron’s centrist government plans to transform the public feedback into tangible policy change that can address pent-up resentments and find an exit to the unrest.
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