The gilets jaunes: democracy in action


France's gilets jaunes (yellow vests) have had a lot thrown at them of late. Protesters have been subjected to repressive and violent policing. Further to that, Emmanuel Macron's government has proposed new public-order laws which, according to one Bloomberg columnist, would make even Vladimir Putin blush. Much of the media has gleefully parroted government propaganda that the same Mr Putin is partly responsible for stoking yellow-vest unrest.

While these differences in approach are often said to be indicative of a broader chaos in the movement, all of these experiments should be welcomed. As one writer in Open Democracy says of the Commercy assemblies, 'Who, in 1789, said that the revolt of the peasants would end in the Republic?'. Experimentation is essential in a living, breathing democracy, especially at a time when it is abundantly clear that the current institutions, at the local, national and European level, are failing to give voice to so many.