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'Where do our taxes go?': Yellow vests in Bourges explain why they won't give up their fight

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'Where do our taxes go?': Yellow vests in Bourges explain why they won't give up their fight
Photo: The Local
15:48 CET+01:00
Around 5,000 'yellow vests' descended on the central French city of Bourges on Saturday for the 9th weekend of anti-government protests. The Local joined them to find out exactly why these French people were determined not to give up their fight.

Bourges in the Cher department became an unlikely epicentre for the 'yellow vest' (gilets jaunes) protests on Saturday as thousands of demonstrators arrived in the central city to demonstrate for Act 9 of the movement. 

A total of 4,700 protesters gathered in the city, with around 500 gathering at Place Seraucourt in the historic part of the city despite the head of the local authority in Bourges Catherine Ferrier banning protests in the area.

Police stood in groups several metres away from where the gilets jaunes had gathered while several shops were boarded up on the first weekend of the winter sales.

 

While the morning saw protesters marching peacefully, in the afternoon clashes began to began to break out between police and a small minority or rioters.

"Our spending power is the most important issue," Josiane Joliy, 62, told The Local. "I live on 480 euros a month and I can't afford to go out and socialise. I'm lonely but luckily I have the internet which sometimes feels like my only friend.

Joliy said she was still protesting because the concessions recently made by Macron, which included boosting the minimum wage and cutting taxes for pensioners "weren't good enough".

"The increase in the SMIC (minimum wage) that Macron introduced recently won't change anything and not everyone will benefit from it," she said. 

Joliy, who is retired went on to say that Macron needs to get out as quickly as possible, adding that she thinks far-right politician Marine Le Pen would be better because "she understands how people have to live".

Another 'yellow vest' Frederique Solivo, 39, said that the reason he was protesting was he was fed up with the high taxes in France and "not knowing where they go".

"Where is the money going?" he said. "We need to know because at the moment in France it feels like we're paying through the nose and creating debt for our children."

Solivo added that he thought the problems in France at the moment were similar to those that caused Brexit, and he believed it was time for Macron to step aside.

Meanwhile Bernard Rousse, 62 from Bourges, who was protesting for the first time joined the demonstrations on Saturday because of the lack of equality in France and the attitude of the country's politicians. 

"We are a rich country and yet there are people who work hard and have to sleep on the streets," he said. 

"Politicians talk about things they don't understand," said the retired nuclear power station worker. 

"I wasn't totally against Macron but he needs to start listening to us, after all, he was elected by the people. He works for us!"

Dominique Martin, 60, who described herself as a gilet jaune "to the core" said that she has been protesting every Saturday since November. 

"I want better spending power for everyone, particularly for the vulnerable -- single women, the old, widows. 

"The situation we have at the moment isn't fair and it can't go on."

Martin went on to say that she was in favour of introducing citizens' referenda on all government decisions and a "peoples' government" to replace the current one. 

Others we spoke to echoed the need for better spending power, in other words more money in their pockets at the end of the month, with one pensioner Michelle Auclair, 70, highlighting the difficulty the country's retirees are having due to government measures introduced since Macron came into power. 

Another protester, Laetitia Diat, 39, said that her primary concern was Macron and his "cronies" filling their pockets which she considered "an insult to the French people."

Many shop owners in Bourges had taken the precaution of boarding up their shops on Saturday however others took the opposite approach, hanging yellow vests in their windows to demonstrate their support. 

However the streets in the historic centre were largely empty aside from the 'yellow vest' presence. 

It was prominent 'yellow vest' Priscillia Ludosky who called on gilets jaunes to make Bourges the epicentre of the mobilisation. 

Ludosky explained that the city in the centre of France was "a little less known to the police" which would lower the chances of the protesters being circled by the police force. 
 
By late afternoon clashes broke out between riot police and protesters that have been common at most yellow vest protests in recent weeks.
 
 
Bourges is a historical city and home to the Gothic Cathedral of Saint Etienne which ranks as a World Heritage Site. It is also where Charles VII sought refuge in the 1420s during the Hundred Years' War before he became king of France.
 
The city has been chosen "to confirm our unity and to allow everyone to be at equal distance leaving the big cities", according to the Facebook group for the event. 
 
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