Are farmers scaring the government? Indulgence in the face of violence questions

The executive has so far shown understanding towards the sometimes muscular protest actions of the world of agriculture.

Are farmers scaring the government? Indulgence in the face of violence questions

The executive has so far shown understanding towards the sometimes muscular protest actions of the world of agriculture. Contrary to its habits with other militant movements.

Since the start of the agricultural mobilizations, the executive has been walking on eggshells. There is no question of adding fuel to the fire and stoking the anger of the operators; the Macronist camp is instead playing the card of understanding and indulgence. To the point of turning a blind eye to actions that would have made him jump in other circumstances. Are farmers scaring the government?

Tuesday January 23, operators blocked the gates of the Lot-et-Garonne prefecture by dumping slurry, tires, but also guts and animal blood. Friday January 19, an explosion caused significant damage to an empty building of the Ministry of Agriculture in Carcassonne (Aude), where “CAV” (Agricultural Action Committee) tags were discovered. These actions did not trigger indignation from the political class.

On the other hand, the Minister of Agriculture Marc Fesneau postponed his agricultural orientation law, Gabriel Attal received representatives of the movement in Matignon and Emmanuel Macron in person called for “concrete solutions” to be found to their demands. Gérald Darmanin even ruled out on Tuesday evacuating the blocked A64.

This particular tolerance towards farmers' mobilizations is not new, even though the sector regularly stands out for its muscular actions: "The tradition of violence is firmly anchored and widely tolerated in France", points out Bertrand. Hervieu, sociologist specializing in rural issues, at BFMTV. “There is a certain consensus on being lenient with farmers,” confirms Éric Doidy, sociology research fellow for INRAE, who notes that the perpetrators of violent actions “are never convicted.”

Thus, the political management of farmers' movements is strictly not the same as that of other social movements. When in 1999, around sixty operators invaded the office of the Minister of the Environment Dominique Voynet, all escaped without any conviction. For comparison, when in 2019 Yellow Vests entered the courtyard of the ministry of Benjamin Griveaux, then government spokesperson, the driver of the forklift which allowed them to enter was sentenced to nine months in prison. , recalls BFMTV.

Five months before the European elections, the government is above all trying to limit the damage and fears getting bogged down in a social conflict similar to the yellow vest crisis. Especially since farmers are capitalizing on the sympathy of the French: 56% of people questioned by Ifop want to “support agriculture more broadly”. The rural world is also a key element in the next election, for which the National Rally is the big favorite. The executive hopes to further stem the already massive support of this sector for the RN's speeches.

There is no question, therefore, of giving the image of a repressive and violent State. What a CRS confirms to BFMTV: "The policy, on this type of demonstration, is to let the farmers show their anger, burn the straw bales, the tires."

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