Saturday, November 27

The Guardian’s take on French Covid pass protesters: attention should be paid | Editorial

BBy French standards, the protests across the country for four consecutive weekends have not been huge. On Saturday, approximately 230,000 protesters filled streets and squares to oppose a new Covid pass which will be required from Monday. By comparison, two years ago, nearly four times as many opposed President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal. pension reforms. Center indicate that a large majority of French citizens support the new regulations, which means that visitors to restaurants and other public settings must show proof of vaccination or a negative test. The rules will also make beating mandatory for healthcare workers and those in some other professions.

Since Macron signaled his intention to move in this direction last month, Europe has been following suit, although, in England, Boris Johnson has. privileged wait. Germany plans to introduce similar measures in a few weeks. Italy launched its “green pass” on Friday. The public health benefits of increasing vaccination rates and making social contexts as safe as possible are indisputable. Since the Covid pass was announced amid concerns about the spread of the Delta variant, France’s vaccination rate has skyrocketed. More than 60% of those over 12 years old have already had a first puncture. The constitutional court ruled Thursday that the pass represented a “balanced trade-off” between public health concerns and individual liberty. Having generally accepted popular opinion, Macron is entitled to regard the policy as a success. But there are good reasons for him, and other European leaders, to pay close attention to the nature of the ongoing dissent.

Conspiracy theorists and eccentric libertarians certainly populate the margins of the anti-pass movement in France and elsewhere. But as the digital age extends its reach ever deeper into our private lives, legitimate concerns about an intrusive surveillance society must be respected and addressed. And the discontent has shown that the kind of resentment and alienation that sparked political unrest in Europe in recent years has not gone away.

The French protests have received support from the far left, as well as the far right. More broadly, they have galvanized the same disillusioned electorate that started a protracted insurgency against the Macron government in 2018. vests yellow The movement followed the imposition of a fuel tax increase, but it quickly became a general and sometimes violent challenge to established elites and centers of political power. Anti-bystanders, while focusing on the issue of individual freedom, draw from the same deep well of suspicion and mistrust in the motives of the powerful. In a interview Last week, an exasperated Mr. Macron said that the protesters’ attitude was “a threat to democracy. They mix everything. Some tens of thousands of people have lost their minds to such an extent that they are able to say that we live in a dictatorship ”. But surveys indicate that around one third of the French sympathize with the protests. A disturbingly large minority appears to have lost faith in the political establishment, as evidenced by the remarkable levels of abstention in recent local elections.

Covid will hopefully disappear as a threat. But as states and governments attempt the vital transition to zero net carbon emissions, the buy-in and trust of all citizens will be essential, as everyday life is deeply disrupted. The French protests are a warning that this may not be easy.

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