The centrist leader has been accused of repression after he ordered the deployment of military units to curb the wave of violent social unrest that has gripped France for over four months. Denouncing the 41-year-old centrist’s “arrogance and unfairness,” Mr Glucksmann told RTL radio the anger that sparked the unrest had been simmering for decades. He said: “Mr Macron was the one who lit the fuse to the powder keg, but he was not the one who filled the keg with powder.
“He does not bear sole responsibility for the yellow vest movement. The crisis is the result of 30 years of public powerlessness.”
“But when you know, like Mr Macron knew when he took power, that you are standing on a powder keg waiting to be lit, you don’t start handing out tax giveaways to the rich and insulting the poor,” Mr Glucksmann, leader of the Socialist Party’s European election campaign, said in reference to Mr Macron’s reputation as a president for the rich.
The MEP hopeful also slammed the Macron government’s handling of the anti-government protests, saying it was at once too lax and too strict when dealing with violent demonstrators.
“What strikes me in particular is the extent to which we are oscillating between a repressive attitude and a laissez-faire attitude. As if there were no policing and law enforcement doctrine.
“When there is a social crisis, it morphs into a regime crisis … The republic must not give the impression it is being shaken by a wave of demonstrations,” Mr Glucksmann concluded, as he deplored the government’s “incompetence and powerlessness” in the face of worsening protest violence.
The yellow vest protests, so-called because of the fluorescent safety jackets all French drivers have to keep in their cars and which have been worn by demonstrators, began in mid-November following an eruption of public anger over planned – but since-scrapped – fuel tax hikes.
But the movement quickly snowballed into a wider outpouring of frustration with Mr Macron’s perceived elitism and lack of empathy for the struggling working class, and it has often been marred by violent clashes and looting.
Riot police fired tear gas at demonstrators in Paris and scuffles broke out in other French cities on Saturday during the 19th straight weekend of yellow vest rallies.
But with armed soldiers deployed in Paris and Nice for the first time to help the police, the violence did not match the scale of last Saturday when shops, cafés and newspaper stands along the Champs-Elysées avenue were torched, looted and vandalised.
Demonstrators were banned from the Champs-Elysées this Saturday and French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said authorities had handled the latest protests well despite the flare-ups of violence.
“The correct methods have been applied, and the results are there to be seen,” Mr Castaner said in a televised address.
Across France, 40,500 demonstrators turned up this Saturday, up from 32,300 last weekend, he said. In Paris alone, the number of demonstrators fell to 5,000 from 10,000.
But the rolling protests have taken a toll on Mr Macron’s reputation and dragged down his popularity ratings, which are only just timidly recovering to levels not seen before the start of the unrest, an Ifop poll published on Sunday found.
The share of people who consider Mr Macron a good president rose to 29 percent this month, up one percentage point from February, the poll for the conservative weekly Le Journal du Dimanche showed.
His popularity has crept higher since hitting 23 percent at the height of the unrest in December.
His dissatisfaction rating, however, remains high at 69 percent.
The Ifop poll of 1,929 people aged 18 and over was carried out between March-5-23.