The victim, who has not been named by French media, was taking part in an anti-government protest at a roundabout in the town of Saint-Avold, when a man in his forties forced his way through a roadblock erected by protesters. The driver, whose identity also remains unknown, was immediately arrested and taken into custody, according to the French daily Le Figaro. The yellow vest protests, named after the fluorescent jackets all French drivers have to keep in their cars and which have been worn by demonstrators, began in mid-November after public anger against fuel tax rises.
Those were subsequently scrapped, but the movement has since snowballed into a broader revolt against President Emmanuel Macron’s perceived arrogance and scorn for the working class, as well as his government’s tough economic policies.
But the movement has often been marred by violent clashes between protesters and police. Last month, the interior ministry said that some 2,448 yellow vests had sustained injuries since the start of the revolt, along with 1,797 members of the security forces.
A total of 11 deaths have been linked to the protests, most as a result of road accidents.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said that 12,000 people had demonstrated across the country on the 32nd consecutive Saturday of protests, up from 7,000 last weekend. Some 1,100 yellow vests gathered in Paris, up from 950 last week.
While the slight uptick shows that yellow vest anger cannot be suppressed, the numbers were well below the peaks seen in November and December, when around 300,000 people took to the streets on Saturdays.
Despite losing steam in recent months, the prolonged protests have left an indelible stain on the Macron presidency, hindering the centrist leader’s efforts to push through his reform agenda and forcing him into costly concessions.
After a package of emergency measures in December worth more than £9billion (€10billion), Mr Macron announced income tax cuts worth a further five billion euros (£4.5 billion).
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe acknowledged that errors had been made in the handling of the crisis, but said it was time to relaunch Mr Macron’s reform agenda with an “Act II”.
Pledging to put the environment and social justice at the heart if policymaking, Mr Philippe said France would reduce unemployment benefits for high earners and offer incentives to those who work beyond the normal retirement age of 62.
But the protests have also battered Mr Macron’s authority and image, sending his popularity plummeting.
His approval ratings, which dropped to the low twenties when the crisis reached its peak, are only just showing signs of recovery.
Some 30 per cent of French people approve of Mr Macron’s actions as president, an Ifop poll published on Sunday showed, a number which remains largely unchanged from last month’s survey.
The poll of 1,910 people, conducted on June 14-22 for the French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD), also showed that 67 per cent of French people remain dissatisfied with his actions as president.
Mr Macron, a former investment banker and economy minister, rose to power two years ago on a centrist platform, shattering traditional mainstream blocs on the right and the left with a promise to “deeply” transform France.
But the president’s failure to beat the far-right Rassemblement national (RN) in last month’s European parliament elections has dealt a severe blow to his ambition to position himself as the new leader of Europe.