Support for the “yellow vest” protesters in France has dropped sharply following President Emmanuel Macron's concessions to ease taxes and boost income, leaving the country split, two opinion polls showed Tuesday.
One poll, carried out by Opinionway, said 54 percent of those surveyed wanted the protest to stop, while 45 percent wanted it to continue.
A second poll, carried out Odoxa, showed nearly reverse figures, with 46 percent wanting them to stop and 54 percent wanting the protests to continue.
Both polls revealed a major shift in public opinion overall.
More than two out of three French people had previously supported the grassroots movement which sprang up in opposition to fuel taxes but snowballed into broad opposition to Macron's pro-business agenda.
The Local's own survey of readers also reflected the divided opinion although most of those who responded believed it was time the yellow vests ended their rebellion.
“They got what they wanted, even if they were not able to formulate what specifically that was,” said Gary Gate from Cantal in central France.
Karen Jones, from Pyrenees-Orientales, in south west France said: “Macron has moved, they now need to move. They cannot continue to wreck the local economy.”
Many of those who wanted the protests to end were of the opinion that the demands made by 'yellow vests' were either incoherent or unrealistic, and even anti-democratic.
“I supported the initial protest but the movement has morphed into something else with which I don't agree and is violent and unrealistic in (their) demands,” wrote Ewan Adamson, who lives in Dordogne.
“In particular they seemed to have been taken over by people who for their own political reasons wish to unseat the democratically elected president. The time for that is at the polling stations not on the streets.”
Jax Jacobsen from the department of Val d'Oise added: “What else do they want? Macron to resign? To be replaced by whom?”
And Nicolle DePriest, from Paris added that the violence was another reason why the movement must end.
“Their manifesto of demands clearly showed that they haven’t a clue as to how a government works. The protests have turned into riots which, in my opinion, weakens any thoughts I might have had of supporting them.”
And reader Vanessa Muller believes the social media frenzy was encouraging the gilets jaunes to hope for concessions that are unattainable.
“The gilets jaunes should compare their advantages to the other countries around France a bit: quality of sécurité sociale, price of universities for youngsters,” she said.
“Most of this anger is caused by social media, extremists knowing how to create violence on it, making the people believe they can have unobtainable things.”
But many readers still had sympathy for the movement and wanted them to carry on the fight.
“The true gilets jaunes still have issues that need to be addressed,” said Kathy Joice, Maine-et-Loire, western France, a belief that was echoed by others who thought the president had failed to address the genuine and real grievances of the most hard-up.
And for Alexander Ottenhoff in Paris, it was completely legitimate to demand the resignation of the president and to carry on until it happens.
“Macron has lost legitimacy as president, and the protests need to continue, and escalate in intensity, until he resigns,” he said.
Chirag B from Paris added: “The president has finally decided to talk with people after a year and it's too late to give a speech where he is seen making promises rather than making decisions.”
And in The Local's Living in France Facebook group André Blanbecque had a word of warning for Macron.
“The president made a nice speech, but I'm not sure that'll be enough,” he said.
“If he doesn't clearly demonstrate he'll start working cooperatively with stakeholders rather than ruling by fiat, I really don't see how the movement stops. It's up to him, but he's not there yet.
“The man has understood nothing about his role as President of all the French, I don't see this ending well for him.”