France: university strikes and occupations against Sarkozy

assemblee generale at Nanterre university

After the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as President of France there have been successive protests each night, mostly ending in confrontation with the police.

Submitted by jef costello on May 10, 2007

The has been a lot of unrest in France and yesterday; at an general meeting (AG) students at Tolbiac in Paris voted to go on strike and occupy the university. Some 700 of the campus's 10,000 students were present at the AG. It is being reported that some 500 students occupied the buildings overnight.

There were AGs planned at Nanterre The Sorbonne and St Denis universities (all in Paris) and at Mirail university in Toulouse.

At Nanterre a rowdy meeting almost ended in violence as a right wing speaker who was being cat-called as he returned to his seat squared up to another students. They were separated by other students and the chair was able to restore order. In the end they voted on two motions, the first was to have an AG next week this was passed with 330 for, 177 against and 17 abstentions. The second motion, calling for a demonstration next week was passed by 288 votes to 196 with 33 abstentions.

The AG lasted two hours; I was only there for the last hour and at least 100 students left before voting took place. The voting was very orderly, students were asked to sit down so votes could be counted easily and they did so. Two right-wing and two left-wing students volunteered to count the votes.

It was announced at the meeting that students in Toulouse and Nantes had voted for strikes and blockades but this is unconfirmed.

Pierre-Yves Hénin the president of Paris I university (of which Tolbiac is a campus) closed the university today, asking occupiers and picketers to leave claiming that buildings were being damaged. There are reports that riot police were sent in to end the occupation. The blockade has now been ended after an AG (they are usually held daily during occupations) however we have no idea under what conditions the AG was held.