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Act 26: Is it all over for the 'yellow vests' in France?

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Act 26: Is it all over for the 'yellow vests' in France?
Photo: AFP
10:44 CEST+02:00
Turnout is decreasing and the 'yellow vests' have shifted their attention away from the French capital, with this weekend's 'big' event set to take place in Lyon. So, is it as good as over for the Gilets Jaunes?

This weekend's 'yellow vest' protests are set to be a relatively quiet affair after last Saturday saw the weakest turnout since the beginning of the movement back in November 2018. 

This Saturday the French city of Lyon in central France is set to become the centre of the protests. 

Over 5,000 people have said they are interested in attending an event entitled "Act 26: Against the privatisation of our public goods", referring to the planned privatisation of France's airports, as well as the privatisation of lottery and scratch-cards monopoly Francaise des Jeux (FDJ) and energy company Engie.

The 'yellow vests' are also planning a conference in support of the 'RIC' or "Citizens' Initiative Referendum" in Lyon on Friday night and a women's march is planned in the city on Sunday. 

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The local authorities have banned demonstrations in four areas in central Lyon however Saturday's march is set to take place in Place Bellecour which is not a prohibited area. 

There will also be an event in Nantes, with 1,700 people indicating on Facebook that they are interested in attending "Act 26: All of France in Nantes".

"Everyone come with us to shout out your demands and put an end to the excessive repression," said the Facebook page for the event. 

Meanwhile in Toulouse, there is an event called "Act XXVI: End of the reign!" planned, which 1,000 'yellow vests' have said they are interested in attending.

The French capital however looks set to be quiet again this weekend, with no planned closures on the Metro network this Saturday. You can check here in case of any updates on the day here.
 
Last weekend just 18,900 people turned out for the protests across France - the lowest numbers since the movement began, according to the French government. 
 
Prominent figures in the 'yellow vest' movement have claimed that the reason turnout was so low last weekend was due to the big Labour Day protests which had taken place just a few days early on Wednesday May 1st. 
 
"Many 'yellow vests' skipped the protests in large cities [last Saturday] because the aim was to go back to the roundabouts", said one 'yellow vest' collective 'Cerveaux non disponibles'. "And then there was May 1st three days before, which, for some, was the real act."
 
France's finances hit hard by Macron's €10 billion 'yellow vest' concessionsPhoto: AFP
 
However it certainly seems like enthusiasm for the movement is in decline. 
 
"By my own observation, the yellow vest movement is definitely fading," veteran France correspondent John Lichfield told The Local. "It will carry on out of stubbornness but it is no longer a credible threat to Macron or French democratic institutions.
 
"In rural and outer provincial France where the whole thing began the Gilets Jaunes are no longer a force and scarcely a presence. Even the smaller crowds at the Saturday protests have been filled out by what I would call the usual suspects of French protest - urban left wing ideologues, some violent but not all.
 
"There is supposed to be a big event on May 25th, the day before the European elections. If that turns out to be a damp squib, I think we can definitely write off the Gilets Jaunes. But not the anger and genuine grievances in the left behind, peripheral France where the movement began."
 
Controversial 'yellow vest' Eric Drouet has made it clear he plans to take part in the event on May 25th, saying "After so much work, you can not give up".
 
But it remains to be seen how many 'yellow vests' will be left standing with him. 
 
French words to know
 
Yellow vests - Les Gilets Jaunes
To protest - manifester 
Protester - un manifestant

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