After a summer of sovereign debt worries across Europe, President Sarkozy thought France could stomach a bit of pension reform.
This calculation is looking more and more like a mistake, says Der Spiegel.
Protests and strikes have not decreased in the weeks since Sarkozy raised the retirement age from 60 to 62. They are increasing, uniting a growing alliance of the population.
After the first strikes in June, which 2.5 million people took part in, according to unions, the wave of anger did not fizzle out as planned over the summer. In early September, after the summer vacation period was over, 2.7 million people demonstrated. Two weeks ago, the total had reached 3 million. It is estimated that the current wave of protests is even larger. Unions put the total turnout in Tuesday’s protests at 3.5 million. Industrial action is continuing in the transport and other sectors on Wednesday.
In addition, university and school students are now joining the movement. Now that future workers are joining forces with soon-to-be pensioners, the movement could reach a critical mass that is dangerous to Sarkozy. A similar thing happened back in 2006, when the conflict over a proposed employment contract for young people, known as the CPE, mobilized apprentices, school pupils and university students. The government ended up backing down.
Will Sarkozy back down on pension reform? Or will pension reform stay and Sarkozy go?
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