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Say Cheese: De Villepin fights for his political life
Dominique de Villepin, France's prime minister, was fighting for his political survival last night after a week of protests over his flagship youth employment scheme, culminating in students occupying the Sorbonne for the first time since May 1968.

Facing his sternest test since taking up office last June, Mr de Villepin said on France's main television news programme last night that his Bill "will be applied" but intimated that it could be tweaked.

His words came a day after 1,200 riot police stormed the Sorbonne and evicted around 200 students who had been staging a sit-in in Paris's historic university - the centre of the student riots of May 1968.

The students were calling on Mr de Villepin to drop his First Employment Contract (CPE) - a youth job scheme aimed at cutting France's woeful youth unemployment rate by making it easier to hire and fire young recruits in their first two years in a company. They argue that the scheme - a personal initiative of the prime minister - simply increases job insecurity.

Last Tuesday, half a million secondary school pupils and university students took to the streets to protest against the CPE. Half of France's 84 universities are at least partially on strike. More demonstrations are expected this week in a move that student unions and the French Left hope will force Mr de Villepin into an embarrassing U-turn and resignation.

Last night Mr de Villepin stuck to his guns, but said he intended to introduce "new guarantees" for employees under the scheme and vowed to work with labour leaders to defuse tensions.

The protests are the clearest sign yet that Mr de Villepin's 10-month honeymoon period with the French is over, and are a blow to his presidential ambitions.

In the past three weeks his popularity ratings have plummeted after a series of setbacks: a face-losing fiasco involving the decommissioned Clemenceau aircraft carrier, his slow reaction to a mosquito-borne viral epidemic on Reunion island and a government U-turn on a Bill on internet file-sharing.

Posted by:Captain America

#4  Villepin (who it is rumored is a man) est un ver.

See - I do know some froggish. ;-p
Posted by: Barbara Skolaut   2006-03-12 21:05  

#3  Couldn't happen to a nicer worm.
Posted by: Nimble Spemble   2006-03-12 21:02  

#2  Dominique, who is a man, should stick to American bashing -- it has far fewer political consequences that actually leading.
Posted by: Darrell   2006-03-12 20:51  

#1  More indicia/evidencia, AGAIN, that not even Western Democratic Socialism is forever immune from the natural forces that felled and imploded the ultra-Left former USSR - WARPACT. In the end, it won't matter who holds the office of PM, or any other office.
Posted by: JosephMendiola   2006-03-12 20:41