All eyes will be on Paris today, as the city becomes the litmus test to find out if anger in France over the CPE First Job Contract has abated. French President Jacques Chirac announced yesterday that the law would be replaced by other measures. It is a massive climb down, and follows two months of massive protests and strikes across the country.
A demonstration due to take place in the capital today should show whether student opposition to the CPE has calmed. “We need to keep the pressure up, until parliament actually votes to scrap the CPE”, said Bruno Juillard from the National Union of Students. Equally, union organisations in France have urged caution. Spokesman Francois Chereque says the fundamental issue must still be resolved: “What we should be doing now is moving into the next phase, which we should have done from the beginning, in other words negotiations to get young people into work.”Five universities remain closed as a result of action by students and staff. Meanwhile, critics say the crisis may well have damaged Dominique de Villepin’s chances of becoming the ruling UMP party’s presidential candidate in next year’s election.