What the French press are saying about the protests

A review of the French press on the CPE prepared for libcom.org by our Marseille correspondent.

Submitted by libcom on April 3, 2006

The Heavyweights weigh in.

Whilst the contestation to the neo liberal project behind the C.P.E. builds daily in France and in Europe, seemingly taking on a life and acceleration of it’s own, amidst all of these daily developments the heavyweight weekly and monthly press in France carries on with it’s patient analysis of the crisis.

Libcom.org reviews some of these analyses from some of France’s most respected researchers, journalists and commentators to bring you a flavour of thinking which it would be hard to find in the mass English speaking media.

Denis Seiffert : Politis :

Playing With Fire

Writing in Politis under the headline “Playing with Fire” Denis Seiffert takes an unashamedly national electoral analysis of the current crisis. Explaining carefully how the situation in France will continue to worsen as this forms the basis of the government strategy, he maintains that,

The only limit to the government strategy of deterioration, is the division of the right”

Despite massive public opinion opposition to the CPE legislation, where in the most recent survey 63% of the population support repeal of the law, he shows that support is still overwhelmingly solid amongst the U.M.P. (party of Government) electorate, where 74% support the C.P.E.

Dominique Villepin, “The Prime Minister is not interested in “public opinion” but the particular segment (UMP) which might not be sufficient to win the Presidential election next year, but which is, completely indispensable

For Seiffert

as long as opinion on the right holds firm, M. Villepin can hope

But, this strategy is not without risks warns the writer,

Violence makes one nervous, a small amount of violence can be recuperated by the Right wing, a lot will backfire against the Government and the P.M. because even this electorate which adores the C.P.E. doesn’t like a situation which gets out of hand

France is Ill?

Really? Asks Ignacio Ramonet in his editorial in April’s Le Monde Diplomatique, which hit newsstands, this weekend in France, and in its English and 18 other language versions soon.

Taking exception to the “France is ill” chants coming from the mouths of what he calls the “declinologists” (this is the Monde Diplo after all!) he shows how these

prophets of doom see the country declining into a sort of collective depression similar to the one which upset all their plans with the “NON” vote to the European Constitution Project on the 29th May 2005.”

Ramonet argues that the declinologists maintain that the only way to arrest France’s decline and it’s position as

an ill country in a decadent Europe,”

is a strong dose of neo liberalism with labour market deregulation to the fore. Hence the C.P.E.

Having to work fast after the riots in the “banlieues” in November 2005, Prime Minister Villepin put this legislative proposal on the table hastily, but as a pretext to an eventual dismantling of the complete labour market, and thus the French social model. Seen as a brave political move by the political right wing and captains of industry, the situation is exactly the opposite…

"Accused of being the sick man of Europe, on the contrary France is a country that resists, one of the few in Europe where with an incredible vitality the majority of workers refuse wild and savage globalisation which signifies that the world of International Finance has taken control…”


where the workers are fed up on the table of business interest, while the state washes its hands on the sidelines

Ramonet warns in conclusion,

Social Solidarity is a fundamental part of the French identity, solidarity which the C.P.E. contributes to destroy. That is why once more we are in a situation of contestation. And Revolt