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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 March 2006, 14:32 GMT
Press blasts French PM over law
Demonstrators took to the streets on Saturday
The protesters have put Mr de Villepin under pressure

Newspapers across France condemn the government for seeking to push through the new labour law making it easier to dismiss young workers.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin is singled out for criticism, with one editorial suggesting he is taking a hard line because he wants to appear strong for next year's presidential election.

However, one business paper believes the law is not tough enough to cure France's economic and social ills, and the centre-right Le Figaro argues that elections, rather than street protests, are the way to deal with such issues.

Editorial in Le Monde

You do not have to be left-wing or one of the critics of the First Employment Contract (CPE) to come to the conclusion that Dominique de Villepin's technique - pushing it through by force - is the worst one possible. Villepin wants to show that he is not a man to waver. In short, it is not employment that is dictating events. It is the competition with [Interior Minister] Nicolas Sarkozy to be seen as leader of the Right, one year before the presidential election."

Maurice Ulrich in the Communist Party daily L'Humanite

Dominique de Villepin wanted to get the CPE passed very quickly, without people noticing too much. But the majority of the French fully realised this and have shown that they do on a daily basis. The trade unions and student organisations have formally appealed to the head of state and are waiting for a simple response, just one word: withdrawal.

Nadjib Touaibia in La Marseillaise

The French are seeing their government virtually declare war on young people. It is quite obvious that it has failed to learn the lessons from the tremor which rocked the suburbs. Now that the universities and high schools are seething with protest, the Villepin government is still adopting the same response. First they opt for repression, and then they hastily cobble together a counter-attack.

Serge Faubert in France-Soir

Make no mistake: what started as an imitation of May '68 looks like being a thousand times more revolutionary. In fact, the current crisis is an exact reversal. In '68, everything was possible in a France where there was full employment, but nothing was permitted. Today, everything is permitted for those with money, a good job, but nothing is possible for the vast majority of our fellow citizens."

Herve Favre in La Voix du Nord

The words 'suspension' and 'withdrawal' do not figure in [Villepin's] vocabulary. He still needs to find the right words to convince those opposed to the CPE that he has nevertheless taken on board their fears and wishes to respond to them.

Francois-Xavier Pietri in the financial daily La Tribune

The sickness is deep-rooted and it will require more than a poultice on a wooden leg - that is, a reworked CPE - to cure it.

Editorial in Le Figaro

The battle over the CPE is also about the proper functioning of our institutions. A law has been adopted by a legitimate majority. This law is being contested by the opposition and the trade unions. In a democracy this kind of conflict is sorted out not in the street but by the ballot box. When the Socialists voted for the 35-hour week, the Right did not organise blockades: it took note and the Left was defeated.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




SEE ALSO:
Strike call over French job law
20 Mar 06 |  Europe
Q&A: French labour law row
17 Mar 06 |  Europe
In pictures: French protests
18 Mar 06 |  In Pictures
Job protests grip French cities
18 Mar 06 |  Europe
French student anger boils over
17 Mar 06 |  Europe
Timeline: France
19 Mar 06 |  Country profiles
Country profile: France
28 Feb 06 |  Country profiles


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