One dead and over 200 injured in fuel protests across France

One dead and over 200 injured in fuel protests across France
By Daniel Bellamy with Reuters
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The diesel tax increases, designed to encourage drivers to switch to more environmentally-friendly cars, were approved in late 2017.


Over two hundred thousand protesters blocked roads and motorways across France causing many accidents and one accidental death on Saturday.

The interior ministry said 227 people were injured, as drivers tried to get around the blockades and police clashed with protesters.

At a blockade in the southeastern department of Savoie, a driver panicked when protesters surrounded her car and she accelerated, hitting and killing a protester, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.

The grassroots protest movement dubbed the "yellow vests" targeted motorway sliproads, tunnel entrances and airport access roads.

Thirty-eight people were taken into custody.

The protest movement began when higher taxes were imposed on diesel in late 2017. At the time the government said it wanted to encourage drivers to switch to more environmentally friendly cars.

People have also grown angry at President Emmanuel Macron's other economic policies which they say have made them poorer.

There is now mounting dissatisfaction with Macron, who many regard as out of touch with ordinary people.

In 18 months in power, he has seen off trade unions and street demonstrations as he loosened labour laws and overhauled the heavily indebted state rail operator SNCF in a bid to reboot the economy.

Derided by political opponents as "the president of the rich" for measures such as the end of a wealth tax, Macron's popularity has dwindled to new lows of 21 percent.

Tax hikes on fuel and tobacco as well as an increase to a social welfare levy before other tax cuts came into force have left some voters feeling squeezed.

Then oil prices surged in October people in France's many rural areas who rely on cars grew more angry.

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