In the face of inflation, inequalities in France are seen in broad daylight

FROM NEUILLY-SUR-MARNE. Few countries have taken measures as bold as France to protect their citizens from the effects of the energy crisis in Europe. Yet Hélène Bakker cannot help but wonder if they will be enough by going up an endless line of vehicles queuing to buy fuel at a service station in Neuilly-sur-Marne, only twenty minutes by train from Paris. , in this week of October.

Motorists advance centimeter by centimeter, honking and shouting at each other – to arrive at a sign which announces “more gasoline”. The police officers present carrying rifles present are struggling to calm the tension. Some drivers try to free ride on a background of squealing tires and the officers intervene.

“It’s not a rich neighborhood here, says Hélène Bakker, 59. The context is explosive. It could well lead to something more serious.”

The fuel shortage in France is due to a strike by refinery workers: they are demanding higher wages, among other things because oil and gas companies are making big profits from rising energy prices in Europe. However, this shortage catalyzes a more general feeling: the winter will be harsh – but only for those who cannot afford it.

“It is the middle and working classes who are suffering”

“The rich will always get away with it, says a retiree approaching 70 who introduces herself as Mme Chauvette. It is the middle and working classes who are suffering.” She was hoping to buy a small can of gas for her daughter’s car, but the electronic panel that shows the prices went out and she left the gas station empty-handed. According to French television, 28% of service stations are out of petrol or diesel. [Selon le gouvernement, le 24 octobre, « un peu plus de 10 % des stations » se trouvaient encore en difficulté].

An Uber Eats delivery person stands nearby. He was able to refuel his car four days ago but has not been able to accept deliveries since the weekend, he said. Some are starting to draw comparisons between the current discontent and the “yellow vests” movement. This started in 2018 to protest against a plan to increase fuel taxes but quickly spread to social inequalities. The violent turn he took in 2019 had blocked Emmanuel Macron’s program.

This movement is still well remembered, natural gas prices have been frozen at the level of autumn 2021 and the increase in electricity prices capped at 4%. The price of gasoline has also been

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