France braces itself for another week of protests as Sarkozy believes he has turned corner

Sunday, October 24, 2010
By Paul Martin

France is bracing itself for another week of strikes, blockades and sporadic riots as trade unionists and students prepared to take to the streets.

By Peter Allen
24 Oct 2010

All are furious at the Senate’s decision to approve new pension legislation which will see the retirement age rise from 60 to 62.

The reform, which was passed by the French Parliament’s upper house on Friday, is part of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s concerted attack on a social system which he believes has pushed the country to the verge of bankruptcy.

Despite French university students planning to march on Tuesday, and trade unions calling for their seventh one-day nationwide strike on Thursday, Mr Sarkozy is convinced he has turned a corner.

“There’s a definitive feeling that the passing of the legislation means the worst is over,” said an Elysee Palace source.

“The President has stood firm in the face of extreme provocation and now intends to turn the country’s attention to more important matters.”

These are said to include trade union and tax reform, as well as a cabinet reshuffle and “prestige” diplomatic initiatives.

Mr Sarkozy is expected to reshuffle his cabinet next month when he returns from the G20 economic summit in Seoul.

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