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France: A Week For Trouble And Trade

  • November 27th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

paris-riot-261107-spiegel.jpgTrouble in the Paris suburbs reared its head again in Sunday night rioting (25.11.07), over an accident involving a police car in which two teenagers were killed.

The country remains in an uneasy state in the aftermath of its nine days of strikes, as President Nicolas Sarkozy, visiting China, takes a different message about France to customers and clients overseas.

YOUTH RIOTING IN SUBURBS

An investigating commission has said the driver of a police car did not see a motorcycle with which it collided, killing the two young riders in Paris.

The incident in suburban Villiers-le-Bel reignited ill-feeling among police and young, mostly immigrant groups.

During several hours of trouble cars were torched, rioters set fire to buildings and threw Molotov cocktails – leaving 20 police and firefighters hurt.

STRIKERS AND SARKOZY

The disturbances follow a week in which rail workers returned to work after the nine days strike that paralysed Paris and ran up an estimated EU 400-million per day (A$675-million; dcerates.com, 26.11.07) in lost business activity and other costs.

As right wing formations worked on proposed mass counter-demonstrations against the “France of the strikers”, President Nicolas Sarkozy evincing his “no surrender” line, vowed to continue with his contentious assault on open-handed pension entitlements and public service spending.

There were a few signs of weakening in hitherto firm public support for this line. One poll published in Metro – a free paper distributed mostly on the trains, well used by younger commuters – showed a drop in the President’s approval rating from 65% to 58%.

One German commentary (Der Spiegel, 19.11.07) was suggesting his insistence of “launching all reform programs at the same time” had brought on a national confrontation.

Mr Sarkozy in the meantime, in Beijing, secured agreement on collaboration over construction of nuclear power stations there, using French expertise, and the sale of several Airbus passenger aircraft.

Reference:

Spiegel Online; “Sarkozy approval down as rail strike ends”, 23.11.07; Sarkozy mounts shgow-ownm against the unions”, 19.11.07; Rioting in Paris after teenager deaths”, 26.11.07. http://spiegel.de, (26.11.07)

Le Monde; “A Pekin Nicolas Sarkozy prone des relations plus franches”, 25.11.07. www.lemonde.fr, (5.11.07)

Picture: Paris rioting; Der Spiegel

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