Following outrage and protests, France sets a fuel price cap.

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Following outrage and protests, France sets a fuel price cap.

On Thursday, France announced a cap on fuel prices until the end of 2022, as well as financial assistance for low-income households struggling to pay their bills.

Nearly three years after the start of the “yellow vest” protests that rocked French President Emmanuel Macron’s government, Prime Minister Jean Castex said that households earning less than 2,000 euros per month would be given 100 euros ($116) to assist them cope with rising energy prices.

He estimates that 38 million people will be affected, and that “petrol prices will be frozen for the entire year of 2022.”

France, like the rest of the world, has been hammered by a hike in oil and gas prices since the middle of the year, owing to increased worldwide demand and supply limitations.

But Macron has reason to be concerned: in 2018, low-income voters in neon yellow safety vests staged violent anti-government rallies in response to rising fuel prices and measures to tax polluting vehicles.

The 43-year-old president will run for re-election in six months, and he was hoping to frame his campaign around his record of job creation and tax cuts.

“Of course, we want to safeguard the French people, especially those who work hard and bear the brunt of these price increases,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told media on Wednesday.

Small rallies were conducted last weekend in certain rural areas and small towns, the heartland of “yellow vest” unrest, indicating the first rumblings of displeasure over recent price hikes.

According to official data, average diesel prices hit an all-time high of 1.5583 euros per litre last week, while petrol prices approached a 10-year high of 1.6567 euros per litre, slightly behind the all-time high set in April 2012.

According to the website carbu.com, the price of diesel has increased by 29% in the last year, including 7% in the previous month, while the cheapest unleaded gasoline has increased by 25% in the last year and 5% in the last month.

The answer to the energy crisis could be crucial for Macron, who remains the favorite for next April’s election, as his far-right opponents are already campaigning on immigration, Islam, and French identity.

According to government figures, eight out of ten households own a vehicle.

After five years of tax cuts and measures to improve purchasing power, Attal was unequivocal about the threat to the president’s economic record. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.

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