Yellow Vests leader: Fuel tax moratorium is crumbs, we want the baguette

Paris riots continue despite fuel tax delay

On Tuesday, the French prime minister Edouard Philippe made a decision to suspend planned increases to fuel taxes for at least six months in response to weeks of sometimes violent protests by the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement, marking the first major U-turn by Macron's administration in 18 months in office.

The 40-year-old leader's score now matches the low recorded by his socialist predecessor François Hollande in late 2013, according to Paris Match.

It was Prime Minister Edouard Philippe who announced a six-month delay in the fuel tax increase that was to have begun in January.

The FNSEA farmers' union said it would fight to help French farmers earn a better income but would not officially be joining forces with the "yellow vests" - protesters wearing the high-visibility vests that French motorists are required to keep in their cars.

"No tax is worth putting the nation's unity in danger", Philippe said in a live televised address.

Pressure has been mounting on the government after protests degenerated into the worst street clashes in central Paris for decades.

Three weeks of demonstrations left four people dead and were a massive challenge to Macron.

Rescinding the fuel tax hike was the main demand of the demonstrators, alongside a higher minimum wage and the return of a wealth tax on high-earners which was abolished a year ago. The young centrist has been hit by a wave of popular discontent over a planned eco-tax rise, which quickly morphed into a broader rebuke of his aloof leadership style and tough policies.

It is however expected to cost France around 2 billion euros (£1.78 billion), a government source told Reuters on Tuesday.

Yet many others said they had no intention of stopping the demonstrations.

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Adding to the image of a country in revolt, the main French farmers' union said Wednesday its members would hold demonstrations every day next week.

Talks planned for Tuesday had been called off after yellow-vest representatives said they had been threatened by hardliners if they dared negotiate with the government.

Amid his domestic woes, Macron also saw his "friend" US President Donald Trump weigh in on Twitter, saying protesters were disavowing Macron's adherence to the 2015 Paris climate accord.

Seventy-six per cent of those interviewed said they were "dissatisfied" with Mr Macron's actions as president, with half stressing they "totally disapproved" of his actions.

Experts say the government may have reacted too late to the street protests, a regular feature of French political life which have repeatedly forced Macron's predecessors into U-turns.

Barricades at fuel depots are also causing shortages in some areas of France, while Paris businesses are bracing for new clashes which could erupt between protesters and police on Saturday.

Following the worst anti-government riots in Paris since 2005, French President Emmanuel Macron has now canceled the fuel tax hike entirely.

Macron, whose approval ratings have plummeted to just 23 percent, is yet to comment publicly since returning to France from a G20 summit in Argentina on Sunday morning.

Jacline Mouraud, a self-proclaimed spokesperson for the so-called "yellow vest" protesters, told The Associated Press that Macron's move "is on the right path but in my opinion it will not fundamentally change the movement".

Further protests had been anticipated for the coming weekend with some politicians calling for more security measures. Hundreds of vehicles were set on fire and the Arc de Triomphe was vandalized with the words, "The Yellow Vests will triumph".

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