‘Totalitarian’ Macron to face new wave of Yellow Vest protests as opponents smell blood

France: Yellow Vests march against pension reforms in Paris

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Fabrice Grimal, a leading activist of the popular movement, has warned the French President that the Yellow Vests are “getting organised”, as they seek to ramp up resistance to new security laws that would restrict the rights of protesters. In November last year, French MPs passed a new bill that bans demonstrators from taking and publishing police images, as well as increasing the surveillance of demonstrations. The bill was proposed by Mr Macron’s La République En Marche! Party in October and is currently being debated by the Senate, the upper chamber of the French parliament.

The new legislation would make it an offence to show the face or identify any police officer on duty and would be punishable by a one year prison sentence and a maximum fine of €45,000.

The bill has been severely criticised by both journalists and rights groups, who claim that it would curtail press freedom and result in less police accountability.

Mr Grimal told Express.co.uk that the President Macron was in effect trying to turn France into a “totalitarian state”.

He said: “We have things to demonstrate about. We have a new law in France called Global Security and it is dealing with demonstrations.

“We cannot anymore make movies of policemen in action during demonstrations.

“So we have to see with Belgian websites to broadcast films of police forces in France because we cannot broadcast it in France anymore.

“It is not sure whether this very disposition will be in the final law but we are debating things like this so it is a kind of a totalitarian state.

“Now we are pretty sure of it, so we have to be pretty careful.”

France has recently had to go into another month-long lockdown to curb the rising rates of coronavirus infections.

The political activist, who has written a book called “Towards Revolution”, blamed Mr Macron for mishandling the pandemic, suggesting he was now trying to use the health crisis to exert even more political control over France.

He explained: “It is his fault that has led us here and now he is using it as an additional power for him to shut down every contestation, every movement, every demonstration.

“So we are in a very difficult situation, but inside, behind the curtains we are getting organised at last.”

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Under current French Covid restrictions, adults can only gather in groups of less than six people outside, and cannot travel further than 10km from their homes.

There is also a curfew in place between 7pm and 6am, with fines of up to €135 payable for anyone found breaking it.

The new lockdown has added to Mr Macron’s political difficulties as his popularity levels continue to plunge.

A poll carried out by IFOP for the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche in March found that his popularity rate had fallen 4 percentage points from a month earlier, with only 37 percent of people saying they were satisfied with his performance.

The incumbent president faces a strong challenge from Marine Le Pen, as he fights to save his political career in next year’s elections.

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