The Yellow Vest movement is becoming increasingly divided and fractured.
On one hand, protestors who want the demonstrations to succeed, even if it means putting aside their mistrust of trade unions.
On the other, those who want to avoid political recovery at all costs. And this comes at a time when Italy is increasing its encouragement to the movement in the run-up to the European elections.
Sparks fly after Italy's Luigi de Maio meeting with Yellow Vests
One of the founders of the Yellow Vest movement called the meeting between Italy’s deputy Prime Minister, Luigi Di Maio, and other protest leaders a serious intrusion. This came as the movement showed a common front in the face of police violence before week 13 of the Saturday protests.
“Politics is not about weakening the image of France, but to create a more fair country,” said Jacline Mouraud, one of the founders of the Yellow vest movement, told AFP.
She said Di Maio’s meeting was a “serious intrusion into the foreign policy of our country”.
The Italian anti-establishment politician met with Christophe Chalencon, another founder of the movement, and candidates on a yellow vest list of candidates for the European parliament elections in May.
Di Maio offered his support to the movement. But Mouraud, who has founded a political party of her own, based on “heart” and “empathy”, said Ingrid Levavasseur, who is leading the list, was not warned of the meeting.
Another leading figure in the movement, Maxime Nicolle, addressed Di Maio on Friday, accusing him of appropriating the yellow vest movement.
“You met some people who have created a political party, but in no case did you meet the leaders of the Yellow vests, because there is no leader,” she said.
Preparing “Act 13”
Nicolle will participate in a march in Nice on Saturday, the 13th weekly protest organised nationally since 17 November.
Last week saw a drop in participation nationally, but an increase in Paris, and on Saturday organiser Eric Drouet announced a gathering on the Champs-Elysees. Though he wrote on Facebook that it was not officially declared, and that none of the gatherings will get permits, as people “are tired of these protests that always finish the same way”.
Other gatherings have been announced around the Arc de Triomphe and in front of Parliament.
Outside of Paris there have been calls for protests in a few large cities, with notably a march planned in Toulouse, also without a permit.