The last time France’s National Assembly was dissolved was over twenty years ago, but Le Pen claims that now is the time for action as France is suffering from violence unseen in years. Emmanuel Macron decision to increase fuel taxes stirred tensions in the country; the president stood by it, angering protesters and provoking clashes with police.
Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s right-wing National Rally party, proposed to dissolve the lower chamber of the French Parliament and hold new parliamentary elections amid the ongoing massive protests against rising fuel prices.
“It is necessary to implement proportional representation and dissolve the National Assembly in order to hold new proportional elections,” she said in an interview with TV channel France 3 which aired on Sunday, adding that the authorities have no choice in the current situation.
The Assembly has not been dissolved since April 1997, when Jacques Chirac made the move in a bid to seek support for his conservative economic programme.
Le Pen, who lost to Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the 2017 presidential election, chastised the President for his insufficient response to the protests, which have been stirring unrest in France for over two weeks. “We are the best in policing the world,” she said. “In this case, we’ve been very bad.”
Nearly 36,000 protesters, including some 5,500 in Paris alone, took to the streets on Saturday, angry over Macron’s proposal to increase fuel tax rates. Thousands of police officers were deployed to contain the protests.
Paris police repeatedly used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd. The capital’s officials reported, as quoted by AP, that a total of 133 people were injured during the riot and 412 were arrested. The French authorities indicated that they could introduce a state of emergency to quell the unrest.
Protests against raising taxes on fuel flared up in France in mid-November. Participants of the demonstrations call themselves “Yellow Vests” — the name is derived from the high-vis capes for motorists that the protestors are wearing.
In late 2017, the French government approved the decision to raise a national direct tax on diesel fuel, which is the most popular type of fuel in the country. Diesel prices in France have risen by around 23 percent since the beginning of the year, while petrol prices have gone up 15 percent. Prices are set to increase further in January.
President Emmanuel Macron stressed, commenting on the protests, that he would not revise his decision on the fuel price hike. He harshly condemned the violence and pledged to bring perpetrators to justice.