Monday, April 10, 2006

Unions 1, De Villepin 0

Chirac has caved in -- oh, excuse me, I mean he has arbitrated the dispute between the French schoolchildren and his Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin. The CPE is dead. (This is the "Contrat Pour l'Emploi," a measure to allow employers to fire a new employee under age 26 without cause as is done in the more productive areas of the free world.)

In it's place is the CNE ("Contrat Nouvelles Embauches"), which sounds the same but which is politically much more correct, inasmuch as it has been negotiated between the government and the rowdy French unions who are behind this youthful free-for-all.

[Reuters photo.]

What is this new contract? Well, let's not get too impatient. For starters, it's not the CPE. What the actual terms are will be determined throughout the coming days.

This is a political chess game. We are only into the first few moves. Checkmate is of course the denouement, but who will be victor is anyone's guess. The unions need to preserve their position of blackmailing strength. The government needs to look gentle but firm.

De Villepin seems to be the first sacrificial pawn in this game. Now the strong player may be his fellow party member and arch rival, Sarkozy, Minister of the Interior, who opportunistically saw the writing on the wall early on, calling for the demise of the CPE as soon as he saw the defects in De Villepin's high-handed and unseductive style.

Read these interesting articles in French.
The CPE is dead
CPE's replacement does not end student mobilization
CPE: unions cry victory without calling for renewed mobilizations.


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