Protesters are seen during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement in Lisbon, Portugal, December 21, 2018. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes
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The terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France, on Dec. 11 came after a month in which the "yellow vest" protests in Paris and other cities dominated international headlines.Although the yellow vests' protests continue, tempers have cooled, providing a respite to Macron. Clearly, Macron misunderstood his own success. The yellow vests are primarily from the lower-middle and working classes, rather than from the very bottom of the social ladder.In France, unemployment itself is high (around 9 percent) and thus hard to ignore. The economic insecurities that gave rise to the yellow vests are compounded by social fragmentation and geographic diffusion. As a result of deindustrialization, people with similar interests are less concentrated in large factory communities; and as a result of globalization, unskilled workers have been priced out of large cities. That is why the proposed fuel tax hits so close to home, and why the yellow vest has become such a potent and visible symbol.
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