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The revolt has forced French President Emmanuel Macron to make significant and costly concessions, but it is hardly a new French Revolution.The difference between then and now is that those taking to the streets to protest against Macron's proposed fuel-tax increase are animated not by utopia but by despair.Under Macron, France was supposed to keep the flame of liberal democracy alive in a world darkened by Donald Trump's America, Viktor Orban's Hungary and Matteo Salvini's Italy.The yellow vest revolt has been driven in part by Macron's mistakes.By surrounding himself with a court of bright young technocrats, Macron lost contact with what he calls "his people" (a rather tone-deaf formulation in itself).Macron's own personality may also have been a decisive factor in this first major crisis of his presidency. Macron is an exceptionally intelligent, energetic and courageous person, but he seems to lack the maturity and humility that come with age. Rather than rejoicing in a bold leader's comeuppance, those who still believe in democracy should be thinking about what it would mean if Macron fails.For better or worse, Macron still represents European democracy's best bulwark against a wave of populist nationalism.
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