French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has condemned the violence as “unacceptable”. He has offered to provide a mentor system, extra cash for those who lose their jobs and a six monthly review of the new contract in a bid to calm protesters.
But public opinion seems to have turned against him. “I stand by the students,” said one young woman. “I’m really against the CPE, but it’s a shame the hooligans got mixed up with the students.” One opinion poll shows that 68 per cent of French people want the youth job contract to be withdrawn. A kiosk owner whose property was damaged in the rioting was downbeat. “What do I think? It’s anarchy, the law of the street, there’s no government, no law. I’d like to leave France and go somewhere else. There’s no future here. It’s total dispair,” he said. The Sorbonne university’s preparing to weather more demonstrations tomorrow, with barriers erected around certain buildings. Political analysts predict the embattled government will do the same, in the hope of emerging from the crisis with its policies intact.