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France European elections Yellow Vests

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French Yellow Vests miss out on seats in European Parliament

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French singer Francis Lalanne (C) leader of the Alliance Jaune (Yellow Vest) campaign group participating in the European Parliamentary elections. ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP

The group 'Alliance Jaune' (Yellow Alliance), the only party made up exclusively of French Yellow Vest representatives, got a disappointing 0,54 percent in the European elections on Sunday, well under the minimum of five percent needed to obtain seats in the Parliament.


A few days before the elections, Alliance Jaune leader, French performer Francis Lalanne told France Info that on paper, his group had no chance, but he believed he could turn things around in the blink of an eye.

"If the silent majority gets moving, we'll take the Bastille," he said referring to the storming of the Bastille prison during the French revolution in 1789.

"People are always voting for the same parties. It's like a football club for them. Those who hold the key, are the abstentionists, and they are the majority."

Yellow Vest support on thirteen percent in January

Yet, four months ago, on the 23 January, the polling institute Elabe reported that a Yellow Vest list would have gained around 13 percent of voting intentions.

There appeared to be widespread public sympathy for their cause of lowering taxes and helping the struggling working poor.

The impact of six months of Yellow Vests protests on French public life has been huge.

President Emmanuel Macron has been forced into a series of policy U-turns, while the protests and rioting have left a human toll of injuries, and bankrupt businesses.

But many of the original Yellow Vest leaders are no longer on speaking terms, while others have withdrawn from the public eye citing abuse and even death threats.

At one point, there was a danger of at least five yellow vest formations competing for seats in the European parliament.

Yellow Vest number going down

Numbers at rallies are also going down. From 300,000 people who spontaneously blocked roads and occupied roundabouts on November 17, only 15,500 people turned out on 25 May, according to French authorities.

The only two parties openly fielding Yellow Vest representatives out of the 34 lists on offer, were Alliance Jaune, and Citizen's Evolution lead by Christophe Chalençon, a blacksmith with right-wing views.

Citizen's Evolution only rustled up 0,01 percent in the elections on Sunday.

"I don't want to represent the yellow vests," explained Chalençon, who emerged as one of several spokespeople for the movement. "I want to represent as many people as possible who supported the yellow vests."

Chalençon noted that although the yellow vests were splintered in their voting intentions, hatred of the 41-year-old president remained a mobilising factor.

"When you're in rural areas, people can't stand him," he said. "We're sick of him, we can't even look at him," he told AFP.

Now what?

Despite a lack of support from other yellow vest voters, Francis Lalanne still believes in his project and has his sights on the 2020 municpal elections.

He told 20 Minutes newspaper that he would pursue his work with his "transpolitical and non-partisan" movement and try to maintain momentum. 

He has already stood twice in legislative elections.

"We said that we didn't want to be a political party, but we never said we didn't want to be involved in politics, " he said to France Info on the 8 May.

"When you demonstrate in the streets every Saturday, that's called doing politics".