Macron unveils 'great national debate' to calm protests

Macron unveils 'great national debate' to calm protests

AFP French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday spelled out the questions underpinning his "great national debate", a public consultation aiming to quell "yellow vest" anger after nearly two months of sometimes violent protests.

Macron made his appeal in a "letter to the French" released on Sunday, following the ninth consecutive Saturday of nationwide "yellow vest" rallies which saw an uptick in turnout.

The protests have become the biggest crisis of Macron's presidency and he hopes that returning to the more participative democracy he promised in his 2017 grassroots campaign will satisfy the protesters' demands for a greater say in the running of the country, amid accusations that he is too aloof and his policies favour the wealthy.

Macron said the debates are "neither an election nor a referendum" and would revolve around 35 questions on issues such as taxation, democracy, the environment and immigration.

"I intend to transform anger into solutions," he said in the letter, which had been due to published on Monday, but was released by his office late Sunday.

"Your proposals will help build a new contract for the nation, organising the actions of the government and parliament, but also France's positions at the European and international levels," he said.

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