Gilets jaunes head for Portugal
The first gilet jaune was reportedly a BMW-loving Portuguese bricklayer called Leandro Nogueira whose Facebook rage against reduced speed limits ignited traffic-disrupting demonstrations around his home in rural Dordogne.
After escalating into a nationwide revolt against the government, the Yellow Jackets protests are poised to hit Nogueira’s homeland.
Disgruntled Portuguese plan nationwide action this weekend that could be the biggest test yet of the movement’s ability to spread beyond France.
Over two hours into the demonstration on Friday, there were a number of incidents around Portugal where small groups of protesters slowed traffic, notably in the northern cities of Braga and Porto and at a traffic circle in central Lisbon. However, demonstrators could be counted in dozens rather than thousands. Police said the demonstrations had been peaceful with no arrests.
Under the slogan "Vamos Parar Portugal" (Let’s bring Portugal to a halt), organisers hope tens of thousands will rally for street protests and highway blockades.
If they succeed, it will be the most ambitious Yellow Jackets copy-cat demonstration outside France and confirm the rebellion’s international potential, even as it seems to be running out of steam at home.
Although violent Yellow Jackets protests spilled over into Belgium, most attempts to muster similar anti-establishment demos have fallen flat.
Only a few hundred responded to calls for protests in Germany and the Netherlands. Just a handful of Brexiteers donning high-visibility vests showed up to disrupt traffic outside parliament in London last week.
“It’s very hard to see the gilets jaunes experiment replicated elsewhere. It’s a very French story,” said Philippe Marlière, professor in French and European politics at University College London.
However, he added, the gripes infuriating the French do cut across borders. “The issues which are being debated, which explain the current uprising in France, are issues which people across Europe are facing: poverty, questions of minimum wages, the state of public services. You find that everywhere.”
[Anyone who knows the BMW/hedgehog joke might raise a smile now. Ed]
There’s not much more to be said about the largest defeat for a sitting government…