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Home News Student protests long a potent force in France

Student protests long a potent force in France

Published on 28/03/2006

AMSTERDAM, March 28, 2006 (Expatica) – While the world expresses amazement at the past two weeks of protests over the First Employment Contract, French students and labour unions have demonstrated their exceptional ability for public ranting time and time again.

Many French administrations have been faced with student demonstrations on a similar scale, a fact that bolsters the impression, held abroad and within France, that reforms in France are practically impossible.

Here is a brief summary of some of the protests that have disrupted France over the last 20 years. 

— One million pupils, parents and high school teachers protested against the Savary national education reform in 1984, leading to the withdrawal of the project and his resignation of Alain Savary.

— 500,000 students marched against the Devaquet law on the autonomy of French universities on November 27th, 1986. The law was scrapped 10 days later by Jacque Chirac, then prime minister, after 22-year-old Malik Oussekine was beaten to death during confrontations between riot police and protestors.

— The CIP, the employment initiative contract, met similar resistance in 1994. Commonly labelled ‘smic-jeunes’, the youth minimal wage, it was also withdrawn after large-scale street manifestations. The press started using the expression the ‘Malik syndrome’ when the government, afraid of violent protests, prefers backing out rather then facing potential brutalities and the resulting polarization of the public opinion.

— Unions staged a national strike on December 3rd, 2003 to protest against Luc Ferry’s reform on the autonomy and responsibilities of universities. This reform, intended to modernise university and harmonise French higher education with European guidelines, was scraped in yet another example of the ‘Malik syndrome’.

Today, the anti-CPE protests continue but Villepin remains determined to see this project through. Will the protesters have the final word or will the Prime minister stand strong? The outcome of today’s national strike, already dubbed ‘black Tuesday’ will surely play a roll.

Copyright Expatica 2006

Subject: French news