French media labelled yesterday's protests “the calm before the storm” ahead of so-called “Act 23” or "Ultimatum 2" protests on 20 April – which marks the movement’s five-month anniversary – and will deliver a response to Macron’s 10-week nationwide debate with citizens on how to address the country’s problems.
With the President due to set out his conclusions over the coming days, the Yellow Vests are already anticipating his failure.
Also known as the gilets jaunes, the Yellow Vests have contested the official Interior Ministry figure of 31,000 protesters across France yesterday, putting turnout at more than 80,000 people nationwide, according to their Facebook page.
Acte 22 encore réussi.Quand @EmmanuelMacron comprendra-t-il que nous ne lâcherons pas tant que la souveraineté ne sera pas rendue au peuple français ?!Le peuple souverain exige le Référendum d'initiative citoyenne. Personne n'est au-dessus du peuple !pic.twitter.com/2mG40i896uCollectif Carton jaune (@collCartonJaune) 13 avril 2019
It was a revival of sorts for the grassroots movement, with protest numbers picking up for the first demonstrations held under France’s new "anti-rioters" laws – which hands greater powers to security forces. A week earlier the Yellow Vests had seen their lowest turnout since protests began four months ago.
A rally in Toulouse – designated the “capital” of Saturday’s demonstration – was marked by clashes between protesters and police, who used teargas, sound grenades and water cannon to push back an estimated 4,500 Yellow Vests. Fourteen people were taken to hospital suffering injuries, while 37 people were arrested.
Official figures show some 5,000 protesters turned out in Paris – up from 3,500 a week ago – with police making 27 arrests. Protests were banned in and around the Champs-Elysées Avenue, where anarchists sacked and burned shops last month.
Some protesters were taken into custody for concealing their faces – an act that was made a criminal offence under the anti-rioter legislation – while others were arrested for throwing projectiles or carrying weapons.
Elsewhere, marches were held in Nantes, Lille, Rouen, Caen, Marseille and Montpellier.