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Yellow Vest protestors in Paris on Dec. 8, 2018. Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

President Emmanuel Macron addressed the French public Tuesday night for the first time since the emergence of the “Yellow Vests” (Gilets Jaunes) movement and the violence that has struck Paris and other major cities.

Why it matters: The highly anticipated speech aimed to restore momentum to Macron’s presidency after polls showed roughly 70% support for the anti-establishment movement. He tried to strike a balance between condemning the movement’s acts of violence and responding to the legitimate anger and demands that have fueled it.

Background: A leaderless grassroots movement born on social media, unaffiliated to any party or union, the Yellow Vests are a disparate gathering of discontent citizens, largely from the rural working class, who have risen up against Macron’s presidency and more generally against the French establishment.

  • The protests were sparked by the rollout of a gasoline tax Macron had promised on the campaign trail as a means of addressing climate change.
  • His withdrawal of the tax did not quell the mobilization, which has since focused on larger issues of purchasing power and quality of life.
  • Populists of all stripes have converged in the group, with one poll showing high representation of supporters of both the far-right Le Pen (Rassemblement National) and far-left Mélenchon (France Insoumises).

Details: In his 13-minute speech, Macron reflected on the tone of his past remarks (“I also know that I happened to hurt some of you with my words”) and assured the marchers he heard their anger.

  • He announced a minimum wage increase of 100 euros and tax cuts on overtime and for low-income pensioners, but nonetheless refused to reinstate the wealth tax, one of the movement’s demands.
  • While Macron's speech will not abate the radical elements that have demanded his resignation, it attempted to break public support for them.

What to watch: A third of the way into his first term, Macron is facing his greatest test to date. How much his new tone and concrete measures will ameliorate discontent remains to be seen, but the scale and public support for the Yellow Vest’s “Act V,” planned for this weekend, will offer an early answer.

Ben Haddad is a fellow at the Hudson Institute and worked on Macron’s presidential campaign.

Go deeper

Bipartisan tributes flood in for "giant of the Senate" Bob Dole

Former Sen. Bob Dole in 2017. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/AFP via Getty Images

Republican and Democratic politicians, including former Senate colleagues, are sharing condolences and memories commemorating the life of Bob Dole, who passed away at 98 on Sunday morning.

The big picture: Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, was the longest serving Republican leader in the Senate until 2018, when current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell surpassed his record,

Former Sen. Bob Dole dies

Former Sen. Bob Dole in 2019. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole passed away Sunday morning at the age of 98, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced in a statement.

Driving the news: Dole, a revered figure in U.S. politics and the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, served in the Senate for 27 years, including 11 years as GOP leader. Earlier this year he revealed he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

Movie theaters go out of style

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vaccination rates are going up, people are going out to restaurants again — although the new COVID variant may get in the way — but they still aren't rushing back to the movies.

By the numbers: Some 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer hitting theaters, according to a study from the film research company The Quorum, as reported by the New York Times.