Massive protests in France

FRFI 207 February / March 2009

The crisis of international capitalism is provoking mass protests across Europe from Iceland to Greece and Latvia to France. On 29 January at least 2.5 million people protested at 200 marches and rallies in towns and cities across France against the French government, its attacks on the public sector and working conditions and against rising unemployment. The protests were called by eight trade union groups and accompanied by a 24-hour nationwide strike; rail and bus services, airports, schools and postal services were closed down. The Paris demonstration was even joined by stock exchange workers. Univers­ity and high school occupations are continuing.

Socialist Party leaders positioned themselves on the French protests, hoping to channel the people’s anger to their electoral advantage. An opinion poll showed 69% of French voters supporting the protests. European gov­ernments are facing a real dilem­ma: they do not have a clue how to solve the economic and social crisis, other than to throw more money at it and hope for the best, and to attack the ­living standards of the working class thereby exacerbating the crisis and threatening to turn it into a political crisis. French President Sarkozy has seen the demonstrations and will tread very cautiously from now on if he wishes his political office to survive.

Trevor Rayne


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