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2018 in retrospect: France

By Arnab Béranger

France's year of blue and yellow -  blue football jerseys in summer as the world's football champions. Yellow vests in winter for violent protests against government policy.

Here is a look at the main events that marked French politics and society in 2018.

France wins the FIFA World cup

On 15 July 2018, France became "champions du monde" for the second time in World Cup history.

France beat Croatia 4-2 in a match that media called one of the most exciting World Cup finals of the modern era.

French stars like Kylian Mpabbe, Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, Ngolo Kante and Paul Pogba became national heroes, along with the team's coach Didier Deschamps.

'Benallagate' 

In July, a scandal marked the beginning of a long period of political turmoil in France.

Alexandre Benalla, a former security aide to President Emmanuel Macron was filmed manhandling protesters during a May Day rally.

Under public and media pressure, Benalla was dismissed from the Elysées Palace, while President Macron took responsibility for the incident.

A month later, in August, Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot, probably the most popular minister of Macron's government, resigned on national radio.

This was followed by the resignation of Interior Minister Gérard Collomb, another key government figure.

A cabinet reshuffle followed in which former socialist MP Christophe Castaner was appointed as France's new Interior Minister.

The Yellow Vests

Political turmoil in France climaxed with the Yellow Vest Movement at the end of the year.

The phenomenon started out as a grassroots movement against a new fuel tax implemented by President Macron.

But the movement spread across other domains and protests soon turned violent.

There were unimaginable scenes in Paris for several weekends from 17 November – armoured cars, tear gas, vandalism and looting.

Macron, who initially remained aloof, was forced to intervene personally with measures like a raise in minimum salary and tax cuts for the retired.

This – or perhaps the nearing Christmas holidays – saw the movement to lose steam towards the end of the year.

Protesters turned up in fewer numbers, though the violence of some participants continued to mar a largely peaceful movement.

The movement was ongoing at the end of 2018.

Other events in France

Holocaust survivor and French politician Simone Veil became the fifth woman to find a resting place at Paris' Panthéon mausoleum.

President Emmanuel Macron welcomed some 80 world leaders in Paris to commemorate 100 years since the World War I Armistice.

Two terrorist attacks – at a supermarket in the southern town of Trebes and a Christmas market in Strasbourg left ten people dead and dozens injured.

The deaths of popular French rock star Johnny Hallyday, and of the legendary Frenco-Armenian crooner Charles Aznavour.

(Report by Arnab Béranger)

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