On Sunday, October 16, 2022, tens of thousands of Parisians took to the streets to protest the rising cost of living in France, demanding wage increases as well as other reform measures. The event was organized by left-wing opposition groups who are critical of French President Emmanuel Macron’s handling of the economic crisis facing France.
Annie Ernaux, winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, who also took part in the protests, told reporters that Macron’s leadership was throwing France into “chaos”. Other left-leaning figures made similar remarks, expressing hope that Sunday’s protest would intensify pressure on the Macron government.
These protests are necessary to hold French leaders accountable for their efforts to make immediate changes that will protect their citizens from the continued spiraling prices and unlivable wages. Moreover, the expansion of protests into new sectors of the economy will put additional pressure on the government to react quickly and meet their demands.
Due to strong opposition to Macron’s centrist government, built by the broadening of the coalition among leftists in France, Macron faces growing concerns that gasoline shortages, strikes and the inaction of the government will continue to cause unrest in the country. These unrest can be linked to many national and international factors that have caused worsening inflation and an increase in the cost of living throughout France. Although the French Parliament adopted a plan to fight inflation last summer, it has not been able to fully counter the external circumstances that have weighed on the international economy and the supply chain, namely the war in Ukraine which started in February.
Related protests began several weeks ago, in the northern port city of Le Havre, near many major oil refineries. In those earlier cases, the protesters were mostly workers seeking to increase their share of the profits the big oil companies made from the shortages resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to New York Timesthese “original strikes at refineries across the country left about a quarter of pumps across the country completely or partially dry”.
Now, with the addition of new protesters in Paris and other cities, a unifying message across industries has emerged calling on the government for wage increases. Unless Macron can restore order with back-to-work orders and successful negotiations between unions and gas companies, these protests and gas shortages will continue to plague France.
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