Who are the Gilet Jaunes?
The gilet jaunes or yellow jackets movement is a populist, grassroots political movement for economic justice that began in France in 2018. An online petition posted in May reached 300,000 signatures by mid-October and was followed by regular mass demonstrations beginning on 17 November. I spend part of my life in Normandy. The following report is based on my personal experience.
Early in 2018
Earlier in the year I had begun to suspect that something was bubbling away under the surface. I am by nature drawn to scenes of political trouble.
A late night visit to meet the midnight train from Paris and I found myself in a railway station in the freezing cold occupied by local tough guys, who initially did not appear friendly towards the only white face in the station. I stood by them, warmed my hands on their radiator, and soon we struck up a political argument, laying into all of Europe’s rulers, bankers, elites and whatever. These people were angry and although we parted shaking hands and backslapping each other, it was clear that sooner or later this anger would explode.