France: Is Sarkozy’s Waterloo Just Delayed?

Today, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators turned out in French’s streets to protest, yet again, the already approved, by the French Senate, Sarkozy administration pension plan reform. Once in effect, the new law will raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.

According to both sides( the government and the unions), the overall number of demonstrators across France was far lower than at previous rallies. The authorities say the turnout was half the size of the demonstrations during last week massive protests. Beside the rallies today, one protest included shutting down the power at the finance ministry for about an hour this morning, in what a government official called “an act of ill will”.

So it is a done deal as far as retirement reform in France. The French Congress has already passed the law which is scheduled to be signed into effect by president Sarkozy on November 15. But is this a final victory for an embattled Sarkozy administration or just the first round in a struggle likely to expend? For now the government has won, but French workers, students and the opposition are pledging to keep on fighting against a government they say shut them out of negotiations on the reform of France’s pensions system.

However, this is obviously not only about the pension system. The massive demonstrations and paralyzing strikes are a demonstration of both the strength and the anger of French people towards Sarkozy and his performance as president.

Almost all protesters, since the beginning of the strike, said they were disgusted by the fact that the government had shoved down their throats reforms of such importance without any consensus or even debate with the unions. French wanted a debate that took into account the interest of everyone in the country from the bottom-up. And what Sarkozy is attempting to do is to manage the country exactly the opposite way, from the top down.

Despite the lower numbers today, the protesters are planning other big rallies across France on November 6.

“Social democracy in France is in peril. Sarkozy is destroying the Gaullist tradition of social rights, where unions are accepted as part of the negotiating process. Our president has declared war on the unions, and we will fight him to the end,” said union representative Bernard Fontayne.

So apparently, it will be the strategy of “fight another day” for French workers, and it is likely to be a hot winter and possibly an explosive spring for Sarkozy.


4 Responses to France: Is Sarkozy’s Waterloo Just Delayed?

  1. Bilgeman October 28, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Mr. Mercier:
    “France: Is Sarkozy’s Waterloo Just Delayed?”

    Ummm, just last week these rioters were the new sans-culottes, which would have implied that Sarkozy was Louis XVI, and that he was facing his Bastille Day.

    NOW you’re stating that Sarkozy is Bonaparte, and that he’s facing a postponed Waterloo, which would make the union rioters what….?

    Wellington’s Army?

    Lord man…who is Arkozy going to be next week?

    Can he be Captain Dreyfus, betrayed and exiled by his countrymen because they just “didn’t like his kind”?

    Or maybe we can go backward, and he can become the male Jeanne d’Arc…saving the nation and getting burned at the stake as a witch for her pains.

    • Gilbert Mercier
      Gilbert Mercier October 28, 2010 at 7:29 pm

      OK @bilgeman a quick historic perspective here. In a previous article, I compared the French demonstrators to the sans culottes but I never drew any analogy between Sarkozy and Louis XVI. Sarkozy is smart and tough, Louis XVI wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, and more interested in the craft of making locks than the one of running a state.

      So Sarkozy, has indeed more the temperament of Napoleon {and not Bonaparte like you wrote in your comment). I will explain: Bonaparte, who was the sword of the French revolution, became drunk from his own power and had the delusional ambition to conquer the world.

      But back to Sarkozy: he has some of the emperor trait of character, but very few. What he has is the incredible ambition and some of the intelligence. What he doesn’t have is the courage, the genius and the unstoppable charisma of the little man from Corsica. The countless men who fought and died for their emperor loved the guy. Very few love Sarkozy .

      On another note, I think your true calling is political satire. Especially your analogy between the French empire, in the Haiti context, with a vicious wolf with bad teeth and a sick liver. This one was priceless.

      • Bilgeman October 29, 2010 at 8:16 am

        So is that how the French term him?

        “Bonaparte” when he was a revolutionist and “Napoleon” when he became emperor?

        Maybe “Sarkozy” wants to become just “Nicolas”, eh?
        And he reckons that he can conquer the banlieux on the outskirts of France’s great metropolises?

        Obviously he’s a madman… I mean, once you conquer ’em, what would you DO with ’em?

        “The countless men who fought and died for their emperor loved the guy. Very few love Sarkozy .”

        Maybe Sarkozy needs to employ the riot control methods that Bonaparte did at the Tuiieries Palace in October of 1795, huh?

  2. Ole Ole Olson October 28, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    That portrait is AWESOME! Whoever created that is a genius.

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