Chirac and De Villepin Wave the White Flag of Surrender

Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin surrendered to the masses of youth protesting their proposed jobs law.

We knew it would happen sooner or later.

PARIS (Reuters) – France will scrap a planned youth job contract that has provoked weeks of protests and a political crisis, President Jacques Chirac said on Monday.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who has championed the job law and seen his poll ratings plunge as a result, said in a televised statement he regretted that events had shown the contract could not be applied.

He did not spell out the implications for his own political future, put at risk as a result of his handling of the dispute.

“The president of the republic has decided to replace article 8 of the equal opportunities law with measures to help disadvantaged young people find work,” said a statement from the presidency.

One student leader said the First Job Contract (CPE) was effectively dead.

The new measures in the law would address the problem of youth unemployment of 22 percent, quell the protests and also find a way of saving face for Villepin, commentators said.

Details of the measures were expected later in the day and new legislation could enter parliament as early as this week.

“The necessary conditions of confidence and calm are not there, either among young people, or companies, to allow the application of the First Job Contract,” Villepin said in his brief televised statement after meetings with Chirac and other senior ruling conservatives.

Villepin said the contract would be replaced by proposals aimed at helping disadvantaged young job-seekers and he said he would open a discussion “without preconditions” with social partners on how to provide youth unemployment.

And the grand French tradition of acquiescence and entitlement continues.

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Silence is golden -- especially when it's someone else's gold


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