Villepin's ratings plunge over youth jobs plan

20th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 19, 2006 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's popularity rating sank this month to its lowest level yet, as the government pushed a contested youth job plan through parliament, a new poll showed Sunday.

PARIS, Feb 19, 2006 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's popularity rating sank this month to its lowest level yet, as the government pushed a contested youth job plan through parliament, a new poll showed Sunday.

Forty-three percent of respondents in a monthly poll by the IFOP institute said they were happy with the prime minister's performance, a nine-point drop compared to last month.

The change was especially marked in the 18-24 age group, where Villepin's approval rating plunged by 15 points, according to the survey conducted on February 9-17 and published in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

Several hundred thousand people took part in demonstrations across France early this month against a new youth job contract.

The measure, part of a wider equal opportunities law, is meant to encourage businesses to take on young workers by relaxing rules under which they can be sacked during the first two years.

Critics have said it undermines French labour laws and will make it more difficult for young people to find long-term jobs.

Villepin, who has made tackling unemployment an "absolute priority" since taking office last June, championed the proposal in the face of public hostility and mixed reactions from the business community.

He finally used a special constitutional power to force the First Employment Contract (CPE) through parliament without a vote, where the opposition had been stalling debate on the text.

The opposition has filed a no-confidence motion against the government — a largely symbolic challenge, since the ruling party holds a large majority in both houses — in response to the move.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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