As disturbing as they may seem, the series of the Yellow Vests protests in France is nothing but another episode in the ongoing show of rising populism in Europe – and the world!
Those protests cannot be ranked as a nonviolent movement, which is threatening to Macron’s presidency or the core of the general political system in France. Politically or economically motivated demonstrations are common scene in France. This is not the first time French citizens organize nation-wide protests against Macron or his predecessors.
The different composition and strategy of the Yellow Vests protests should not fool us into believing that it is something similar to the Arab Spring uprisings. In other words, no regime change, or even a minor shake to Macron’s presidency, is expected from such protests for several reasons:
1. The strong and long standing political system of France, which represents a unique mix of socialism and liberal democracy, makes it almost impossible for the Yellow Vests protests to break, given their current form and flow.
2. The skilled strategic masters of nonviolent action are absent. The leading students, human rights activists, and liberal parties are not contributing in any significant way. The protesters are mostly composed of random groups of angry citizens, who cannot keep up with the economic pressure Macron’s regime is imposing on them. Most of the protesters are from the working class, and their rhetoric is mainly a rejection to the economic and political elite. They call Macron the president of the elite, while praising former presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and her party. That, simply, proves my aforementioned point about being the protests a mere show of power by the populists who are trying to find a space for themselves in the French politics, similar to their peers in the US and Europe.
3. The protests are random and violent, which is a weak point. It is historically proven that nonviolent discipline is essential to winning a political cause. The escalating violence practiced by the unorganized Yellow Vests protesters is leading to losing their legitimacy and support by the general public. The random angry groups of citizens, who were virtually organized by a hash-tag on social media, will eventually fail to continue protesting amid this escalating violence, which poses a risk on their lives, as well as, the streets and facilities that they fund with their own tax money.
4. It is true that the Yellow Vests are now saying that they have organized 44 sub-groups with 44 leaders all over France. But, they did not mention that these groups are virtual gatherings of random people on social media. That is another weak point. The absence of actual leaders to the movement will lead to its failure and disperse, sooner or later.
However, the best strategy for the Yellow Vests movement – if they want to win – is to keep the ball rolling, in a nonviolent way though, to keep attracting more economically pressured citizens. Then, turn those engaging masses into a political party that can support a populist candidate in the next presidential elections, in 2022. Continuing their current strategy won't lead to any effective results.