Bonnets Rouges Fight Against Unpopular Eco-tax

Photo: Flickr.com/Espai pels Drets Col·lectius dels Pobles

Leader of the bonnets rouges and mayor of Carhaix, Christian Traodec.
Photo: Flickr.com/Espai pels Drets Col·lectius dels Pobles

A movement calling itself the bonnets rouges (red caps) has emerged in France in the last month, in response to the impending establishment of the eco-tax.

The group’s name refers to a very well known a revolt in Brittany – and symbol of the fight against taxes and for social equality – during the reign of Louis XIV in the late 18th century. Insurgents wearing red caps protested against an increase in taxes during a time of economic hardship in the region.

After the revolts of 1968, the bonnets rouges became one of the greatest symbols of Breton identity; historians since the 1970s have represented the revolt as a stage in the Breton people’s fight for emancipation. Today, the Bretons are using the caps as a symbol in their fight against the unwanted tax on freight transportation.

The movement started in June with a group of 30 entrepreneurs protesting the hyper-centralization and labyrinth of regulations. The group advocated for a true decentralization, allowing regional economic governance to be taken into account and giving the regions freedom to respect their values.

In October, the group “Vivre, decider et travailler en Bretagne” -Live, decide travel in Brittany-emerged in response to the conflict surrounding the eco-tax. The group started as a means to attract the government’s attention on the region fiscal issues. Employees of three major agribusinesses began wearing bonnets rouges made by Armor Lux (in Brittany), as a historic symbol in their fight against the government’s unjust tax policies.

The protests gather a diverse group, breaking from the usual left-right divide. From regionalists to the extreme-right, the bonnets rouges are all opponents of the President. They are CEOs, employees of failing businesses, farmers, union workers, citizens, and even elected officials.

In the last few weeks, highway markers have been burned and damaged, and gantries threatened by hostile protestors in Paris and just outside of Marseille and Lyon.

On the afternoon of November 9, 700 people gathered near a gantry in Jugon-les-Lacs in the Côtes-d’Armor, a department of Brittany, to protest against the tax. Exchanges of projectiles and tear gas between police and protestors took place, and a speed radar burned and safety barrier torn out.

Despite this activity, the group claims it is not associated with all attacks, particularly the destruction of five radars on November 7 and 8 in Ille-et-Vilaine. The anti-government sentiment seems to be spreading throughout France. Not all have objectives similar to the bonnets rouges.

Leader of the bonnets rouges and mayor of the city of Carhaix, Christian Troadec, affirmed the group’s distance from far-right movements after Jean-Marie Le Pen was seen wearing the bonnet.

The group’s perseverance is dividing the French people. A BVA survey for Le Parisien showed that 6 out of 10 Frenchmen think the “anger” of the bonnets rouges must end. Forty percent, however, support the maintenance of pressure on the government.

The tax was recently suspended indefinitely, but the fight continues. Following a successful showing of at least 20,000 people for an anti-ecotax protest – including violent clashes between protestors and police – in the Breton city of Quimper on November 2, another is scheduled for November 30 in Carhaix.

Mayor Troadec claims the government does not want to listen to its people. He said one week ago, “When you hear the number comparisons with Marseille, 3 billion euros for an internal transportation plan and at the same time, they refuse us means of development… frankly, they are mocking us.”

Minister for Agriculture Stéphane Le Foll will be meeting with the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Cioloş on November 22, alongside representatives of the Breton poultry producers.

Follow the action of the bonnets rouges on Twitter: @BonnetsRouges

Trackbacks

  1. […] A movement calling itself the bonnets rouges (red caps) has emerged in France in the last month, in response to the impending establishment of the eco-tax. The group’s name refers to a well known a revolt in Brittany – and symbol of the fight against taxes and for social equality – during the reign of Louis XIV in the late 18th century. Insurgents wearing red caps protested against an increase in taxes during a time of economic hardship in the region. Read more about the Bonnets Rouges movement. […]

  2. […] Bonnets Rouges Fight Against Unpopular Eco-tax (lajeunepolitique.com) […]

  3. […] Bonnets Rouges Fight Against Unpopular Eco-tax (lajeunepolitique.com) […]

  4. […] in the short term, but in the long run, he has taken back the leadership he lost following the bonnets rouges protests, and has managed to recreate foundations that are strong enough to carry him through the local and […]

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