Liberté, Precarité: Labor Law Ignites Anxiety in France

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

From Liberté, Precarité: Labor Law Ignites Anxiety in France:

France’s most famous period of violent protests in 1968 saw students rioting against what they saw as a rigid and smothering state. Today, it seems, they want the state back. Serge July, director of France’s main left-of-center newspaper, Liberation, and a ’68 veteran, says his country is gripped by ‘anguish about the future.’ It is also suffering from, he says, a ‘crisis of identity.’

According to a recent poll, France is the only country among 20 surveyed where those who don’t have faith in the free market outnumber those who do. Only 36% of those polled in France agreed with the proposition that the free market is the ‘best system on which to base the future of the world’ — compared with 71% in the U.S., 66% in Britain and 65% in Germany. In nominally communist China, 74% said they favored the free market, according to the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes.

Police put the number of protesters yesterday across France at 1.05 million, more than twice as many as the previous biggest protest on March 16. Trade unions, which organized the rallies, put the figure at three million. A one-day strike to coincide with the protest disrupted hospitals, schools, rail services and air traffic, halted delivery of newspapers, dented production at France’s biggest oil refinery and shut down the Eiffel Tower.

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