France Yellow Vest Protests: Macron Bows Down to Protesters
Emmanuel Macron concedes ground to protesters in a televised speech. (Photo: Twitter)

In order to halt the month-long protests that have hit France, the country’s President Emmanuel Macron has given into a crucial demand of the protesting “gilets jaunes”.

Speaking in a televised address, Macron condemned the violence by the Yellow vest-wearing protesters but admitted their anger was "deep, and in many ways legitimate". He added he had not been able to provide solutions quickly enough since his election as he swept into office on a mandate of change. “I may have given you the impression that this was not my concern, that I had other priorities. I take my share of responsibility. I know I have hurt some of you with my words,” he said.

In a concession and as a peace offering to halt the protests that have turned Paris into weekend battlefield, Macron announced that the minimum wage would increase by 100 Euros per month from 2019.

The gilets jaunes or the Yellow Jacket wearing protesters have raised their voice against a range of issues – from proposed fossil fuel tax hikes to steep income tax and stagnant wages.

Macron announced that overtime pay would be exempt from tax and social charges, and a planned tax on pensions under 2,000 Euros a month would be cancelled. Employers would be encouraged to pay a tax-free end of year bonus to employees, he added.

He however refused to reinstate higher taxes on wealth French citizens, saying “this would weaken us, we need to create jobs".

He however placed the blame for the outbreak of resentment and anger on his predecessors, saying, “This is 40 years of malaise that has risen to the surface. It goes back a long way, but it is here now.”

Macron has been the target of the protesters for his proposed taxes on petrol and diesel as well as the tax breaks for the wealthy. Protesters were demanding his resignation over the weekend.

He concluded: “We are at a historic moment in our country. With dialogue, respect, and engagement, we will succeed. My only concern is you, my only combat is for you – our only battle is for France.”