Over the last month, France has witnessed the sudden emergence of a militant populist movement which enjoys strong support from the wider population.
The “gilets jaunes” are named after those yellow hi-vis vests which French law requires drivers to carry in their car, along with a warning triangle and other paraphernalia, for use in the event of a breakdown. Hundreds of thousands of very ordinary French citizens have donned their vests and taken to the streets in protest.
The movement began in October, with an online petition against rising fuel prices. Since then, the gilets jaunes have occupied payment points on France’s many toll roads, put around a fifth of the nation’s roadside speed cameras out of action, bricked up entrances to regional tax offices and blocked Paris’s perilous ring road (la périphérique), among other major roads.