How can a government neutralise a protest movement? One way is to give the protestors exactly what they say they want, without fundamentally changing anything. Here’s how it works.
People are generally mobilised by a range of grievances, and protests begin spontaneously. Once they get big enough, the government is forced to react. First, people in power demand protestors come up with a specific list of demands. Next, the government grants those demands without addressing the root issues that those demands represent. Then, either the protests fizzle out on their own, or the government portrays protestors as unreasonable extremists and isolates them from the rest of society. Last year in Slovakia is a fine example.