NETWORK VESTS – The Yellow Vest movement was born, grew up and is trying to organize itself on Facebook. For a week we have examined some of the main pages of discussion, which mix the aspirations to found a new direct democracy, the absolute fear of a political recovery but also often the insults and, moreover, of more marked, an exacerbated by the President of the Republic .
– Félicia Sideris
What would be the yellow jackets without Facebook? What impulse would they find in French society? For a week, we examined some pages of this heterogeneous and protean movement. This is where the first gatherings were organized. Also here is the "act IV" of Saturday 8 December, which raises all the fears. This "act IV" soberly titled: "Macron resignation".
These focus groups bring together tens of thousands of fans for some. We read sometimes violent, racist, homophobic. In an often casual spelling. It also reveals a fragile aspiration: that of ordering the movement to release a common message and spokesperson for French who consider themselves so far "inaudible" and who suddenly find a space of free expression, discuss and resonate with their concerns.
Looking for a democracy without elected representatives
The mobilization on the Internet has been organized on many pages, national and local, but three main lines stand out. The first is orchestrated by the media Eric Drouet, the creator of the first "Act" of 17 November, the charismatic Maxime Nicolle, aka Fly Rider, whose live videos are the "buzz" and finally the main instigator of the movement, Priscilla Ludosky, on initiative of the petition against rising fuel prices. Their opinions are expressed in different groups, such as "France angry" or "Fly Rider Info Blockages". The second line is totally anarchic and can be found in the numerous "Yellow Vest" pages that count for about 20 moderators. And finally, the regional groups, on which local information is shared.
Monday, December 3, the comments complain about the lack of structure that begins to become a defect. Because after the scenes of violence in Paris, "pacifist yellow jackets" appear and appear in the media, some self-proclaimed spokespersons and hold speeches. Eric Drouet is alarmed by a publication of representatives "who will accept anything to calm the movement" and who even "scare" him.
Moreover, faced with the gap between the political response, considered too late, some realize that it is necessary to unite the word. "There is a lack of credibility", worried several Internet users. So it was time for them to organize the color with a simple petition on change.org. But, despite the numerous comments that ask Fly Rider or Eric Drouet to become a spokesperson, they refuse, preferring the title of "messengers" to that of "leader". Then organize the elections. In the evening, thirteen different groups are created, each representing a French region. So free all Internet users to apply to become a local spokesperson.
A few hours after the first selfie videos of the nominations have been published, the votes are canceled. Tuesday morning, Priscilla Ludosky explains in a statement that "organizing elections of representatives of regions is too complicated". Not for lack of questions or for fear of a partial vote, but because it would be "favorable to new attempts at recovery". To remain apolitical and asymmetrical, this is the spearhead of mobilization.
"They give crumbs but we're not pigeons"
But in front of the "pacifist yellow" or "moderate" jackets, which, according to the three "messengers", "use the movement", and faced with the new announcements of the government, the time has come to respond. On Facebook, Tuesday morning is marked by a series of exchanges to reject government proposals. And the jokes – sometimes incisive – like "crumb damage but we are not pigeons", but sometimes more violent and homophobic, like those that compare the speech of Edouard Philippe to the petrolatum.
In a "poll" conducted by Eric Drouet, about 2000 responds not to be convinced by these "beautiful speeches" against less than ten in favor. Already invited on the set of LCI a few days ago and invited by the BFM for an evening of debate, Eric Drouet accepts the invitation but asks all the topics he will have to face. He quickly drowned under the proposals, a hundred in all. A predictable situation. He does not propose them all, but insists that, no, the measures are not sufficient, they are not "concrete".
Tuesday the movement risks implosion
The limits of horizontal democracy are beginning to be felt. Later, on the same day, they materialize with the closure of the publications of the Fly Rider group. As if it were already the end of an era, one of the moderators announces that "in view of the growing number of members, (…) will interrupt the function 'public' to focus on the essential ". Groups are saturated. The speeches are inexhaustible. On Tuesday, the movement risks implosion.
Act IV: Macron, the only goal
However, starting from Wednesday, a new line begins to emerge. Without a spokesperson, without a vote, the movement gathers under the lowest common denominator: the resignation of Emmanuel Macron. After having criticized and sometimes insulted Edouard Philippe, the yellow jackets on these Facebook pages claim the president's departure. On Facebook, we ask ourselves: "Why does not Manu want to talk to us?" The observations are radicalized. Images require "revolution". Fly Rider starts talking about "insurrection". As the names of events may suggest, it is a gradation. We are now at "Act IV". And the two events that count most people are entitled "Resignation of Macron". Difficult to make clearer.
"Go get Macron … too trash ?: 15,000 votes yes, 1500 no
This same message, resumed in a massive way, almost disappears the disparities within the movement and the chaotic and frenzied conference of "Monsieur X". If you go up on other topics, it is now a common path that you want to "go get Macron". So, on Thursday 6 December, in another poll, Eric Drouet sums up the situation. He asks: "Do you think it was too shabby when I said we would go to Elisha?" What more than 15,000 people answer "no". Ten times more than the "yes" of 1500. For his words, calling "enter the Eliseo", Eric Drouet is now under investigation.
From now on, if the democratic impulse desired at the beginning of the week has not taken, with the charlatan of the canceled vote, an insurrectional will will spread. After three weeks, official spokespersons still do not exist. The goal of mobilization crystallizes on this "act IV" at the end more and more uncertain.