A secret document leaked to Le Figaro newspaper explains why President François Hollande caves in to the slightest sign of street protest.
"Throughout [French] territory . . . society is in the grip of tension, exasperation and anger," says the ministry of the interior's monthly summary of reports from 101 prefects, dated October 25th.
The corps of prefects was established by Napoleon in 1800 to be the central government's eyes and ears in the provinces. The prefects are graduates of the elite École Nationale d'Administration and are considered neutral public servants.
The monthly reports are usually couched in careful, and sanitised language, which makes the blatant warning to the interior minister and president all the more alarming. "The legitimacy of tax" is now widely questioned, it notes. "This mix of latent discontent and resignation erupts through sudden bouts of anger, almost spontaneous, and not within structured social movements."