11:36:05 pmCategories: Politics, Peculiarities

The strange nature of politics in France - Protesting, part 2

One thing that struck me during the November riots was the high level of understanding they were shown in the French public debate. It seemed to me that quite a few who participated in the public discourse quickly interpreted the burning of state institutions, private cars and local companies in the banlieues as – not acceptable, but, yes understandable – expressions with some sort of political meaning. A friend of mine familiar with politics in Germany asked me if no one had demanded the demission of the Interior Minister, as it is he who is responsible for law and order. And in a German context, according to her, three weeks of youths rioting all over the country would have been an obvious sign that he didn’t do his job properly…

(But not in France: Interior Minster Sarkozy’s popularity grew during the riots. He certainly condemned what happened, but he didn’t crush the riot with police force, which my friend guessed would have happened in Germany. In fact, I’ve heard that the riots were neither halted by the police nor the state of emergency. Rather the youth themselves decided to stop.)

I should ad that some (whites) I spoke to had not much understanding for the pampered youth who had been given money for nothing for so long…

I came to remember this – to me – striking acceptance for protest now that the students “are in the streets” again. As I wrote in the previous post, politics in this country should – it seems to me – to a larger degree than many other places be played out in the streets. And politics is, in fact, a public and popular concern in this country. Demonstrations, and notably student demonstrations, have made governments withdraw laws several times since 1968. This is one aspect of “the French exception” which is being played out right now. Another aspect is the strong opposition in the French opinion against the (neo-)liberal weakening of the labour regulations. (I forgot to explain the Contrat Premier Embauche in the previous post: it’s a contract for people under the age of 26, which gives the employer the right to dismiss the employee without explanation during the two first years.) However, that is another story I’ll not go into here.

In upcoming posts I’ll come back to other aspects of French society, which I find strikingly different from what I’m used to.


Comment from: Corinna [Visitor]

I would like to use your photograph vom France “précarité". Need it to illustrate an article on “la précarité en Suisse” on http://member.seniorweb.ch.

19/02/07 @ 11:11
Comment from: [Member]

Dear Corinna,

You can download the photo or use in on another webpage from this site http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=112953978&size=o

Feel free to use any of my photos, but I would appreciate it if you credited them with this address http://www.flickr.com/photos/cicilie/ and my full name, Cicilie Fagerlid

You can find more on my photos from the protests against précarité here http://www.flickr.com/photos/cicilie/tags/cpe/


19/02/07 @ 11:24

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