January 23, 2019 / 9:49 PM / 3 months ago

France's 'yellow vest' protesters to field candidates in EU vote

FILE PHOTO: Protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a drivers' protest against higher fuel prices, face off with police during clashes in central Brussels, Belgium, November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s anti-government “yellow vest” protesters are to put forward a list of candidates to run in upcoming European Parliament elections, it said on Wednesday.

The protests, named after high-visibility vests French drivers are required to keep in their cars, started out in mid November against fuel tax hikes that have since been scrapped.

They quickly spiraled into a broader movement against the political elite and inequality, triggering some of the capital’s worst street violence in decades.

“The citizen movement ... has shown the need to transform the anger into a political project capable of giving answers to the French people who have supported it,” the loosely grouped movement said in a statement.

The movement, which so far has been loosely organized without a leadership structure, could take 13 percent of the vote in May, according to a Elabe poll on Wednesday for BFM TV.

That would put it behind President Emmanuel Macron’s party Republique en Marche (Republic On the Move) party with 22.5 percent and the far right Rassemblement National (National Rally) — formerly the National Front — with 17.5 percent.

Macron’s party has recently seen a rebound in its poll scores in a sign of public approval for a harder stance he has taken against the protesters following a string of riots that left many store windows smashed and cars burnt.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas and Caroline Paillez; Editing by David Gregorio

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