In just weeks they have brought upheaval to France and President Macron to tear up key reforms. Now they have caused the worst rift between France and Italy since the second world war. We unravel the story of the yellow-vest protests
The gilets jaunes movement is the longest-running protest in France since the second world war. It has lasted for 13 weeks but has mobilised fully for only 13 days – all of them Saturdays.
In the protesters’ own eyes, this is not a protest. It is an insurrection which happens mostly at the weekends. Through a series of Saturday putsches, the yellow vests hope not merely to bring down President Emmanuel Macron but to rip up the constitution of the Fifth Republic and replace representative democracy with popular government. Their support, always limited compared with previous French rebellions, is waning. They will not give up easily or soon. They are mostly peaceful, but acts and words of great violence are committed and spoken.