Protests In France Over Rising Costs of Living

On Sunday, October 16, 2022, tens of thousands of Parisians took to the streets in protest over France’s rising cost of living, demanding wage increases along with other reformative measures. The event was organized by left-wing opposition groups who are critical of French President Emmanuel Macron’s handling of the economic crisis facing France. 

Annie Ernaux, this year’s Nobel Prize winner for literature, who also participated in these protests, told reporters that Macron’s leadership is sending France into “chaos.” Other left-wing figures made similar remarks, expressing their hope that Sunday’s protest would intensify the pressure on Macron’s government.

These demonstrations are necessary to hold French leaders accountable in their efforts to make immediate changes that will protect its citizens from continued skyrocketing prices and unlivable wages. Additionally, the expansion of protests into new sectors of the economy will put further pressure on the government to react swiftly and meet their demands. 

Due to the strong opposition to Macron’s centrist government, built by the broadening coalition amongst left-wingers in France, Macron faces mounting concerns that gas shortages, labour strikes, and government inaction will continue to cause unrest in the country. This unrest can be tied to numerous domestic and international factors that have been causing worsening inflation and rising costs of living throughout France. Although the French Parliament passed an inflation relief package this past summer, it has been unable to entirely counteract external circumstances causing stress on the international economy and supply chain, namely the war in Ukraine that began in February. 

Related protests began weeks several weeks ago, in the northern port city of Le Havre which is close to numerous major oil refineries. In these earlier instances, protestors primarily consisted of workers who sought to increase their share in the profits that large oil companies have made from the resulting shortages that occurred after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to the New York Times, these “original strikes at refineries across the country have left about a quarter of the pumps across the country fully or partly dry.”

Now, with the addition of new protesters in Paris and other cities, a unifying message between industries has emerged calling on the government for wage increases. Unless Macron can restore order with back-to-work orders and successful negotiations amongst unions and gas companies, these protests and gas shortages will continue to plague France.