Strong French support for road block petrol protest

Support for plans to block roads in protest at rising petrol prices is high, a new poll suggests

Almost eight in ten French people are in support of the plans to block roads in protest at rising petrol prices on this November 17, a new poll has found.

The online study of a representative sample of the French public found that 78% believe that the call to block roads in protest is “justified”, a high figure that suggests public backing for the movement is particularly strong.

The findings in the poll, conducted by Odoxa-Dentsu consulting for news sources FranceInfo and Le Figaro, contrasted with studies from earlier this year, which showed much lower levels of support for other national movements, such as the civil servants’ strike (52% support) and the SNCF train strike by the cheminot workers (39%).

Support for the road blockage also crosses party lines, with support at 55% even among people who identify as loyal to the ruling party, La République en Marche.

Over two thirds (76%) said that the rise in fuel taxes was “a bad thing”, and 80% said that the rise in prices would have “significant consequences” for their buying power.

Campaigners have called for strong action against rising fuel prices, with many people setting up Facebook groups and other online protests calling for mobilisation on November 17.

There are plans for roadblock protests across the country, with the biggest expected to take place on the périphérique (ring road) in Paris.

A petition calling on the government to act has so far gathered over 702,000 signatures - well over its original 500,000 target - and is now aiming to get to one million names.

Petrol prices have risen by 3.8 centimes per litre, and diesel by 7.6 centimes per litre, since January this year - a rise that has especially affected residents in rural areas that are more reliant on their cars.

The new poll also asked the public their opinions about other sources of fuel.

More than one in five (22%) said that rising petrol prices were actually “a good thing, because the French public must, above all else, reduce their reliance on petroleum products, even if it costs more to use them for a while”.

Over half (53%) felt that it would be a mistake to invest in the new “third generation” nuclear power station project, the EPR (Evolutionary Power Reactor) - a plan by energy provider EDF to replace 58 nuclear power stations with EPRs in future years.

In contrast, 46% said the EPR plan was a “good idea”, because “we must renew the current stations”.

Women were more likely to be opposed to the new nuclear plan, as were young people under 25 years of age, with 61% and 70% against the EPRs respectively.

Men, and older people over 65, were more likely to be in favour, at 56% and 59% respectively.

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