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France

Yellow Vests target European Parliament vote

Ingrid Levavasseur (C) is to lead the candidates
Ingrid Levavasseur (C) is to lead the candidates CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

France's Yellow Vests are gearing up to grab votes in the European Parliament in May.

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The Yellow Vest movement has spawned a political grouping, calling itself the Ralliement d’Initiative Citoyenne (Citizens’ Initiative Rally) which is to field candidates in the May elections.

Ingrid Levavasseur, a 31 year old nursing assistant who has become a regular face on television, is to head the list of candidates.

The grassroots movement has no recognised leader or programme and there has been some jostling among prominent Yellow Vests over who best represents it. The violence surrounding some demonstrations has divided supporters.

And the movement's demands are no longer clear. It sprang up in the small towns and suburbs of rural France where people who rely on their cars were fed up of fuel tax hikes.

Aims now range from forcing Emmanuel Macron’s resignation, to obtainiing significant tax reductions and better public services. They also want an end to the 80 kilometre per hour speed limit on some roads and more citizens' referendums.

The RIC is currently working on its election manifesto but campaign director Hayk Shahinyan told French channel BFMTV that if elected, the RIC’s MEPs would consult citizens before deciding how to vote in European Parliament debates.

Shahinyan said he expected the RIC to appeal to people who abstain in French elections, having lost faith in the current political offer.

Macron and the government will no doubt be happy to see the newcomers touting for votes.Government spokesperson Benjamin Griveaux has frequently encouraged the Yellow Vests to stand in elections, comfortably aware that Macron's LREM party will not suffer much harm.

Any party supported by Yellow Vests, fiercely critical of Macron, is unlikely to dent their score.

Instead it is likely to take votes from Marine Le Pen’s far right RN party which is currently the LREM’s closest rival, according to polls on voting intentions.

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