Slim majority of French sympathise with anti-reform protests

A poll indicates that only narrow majority of French people are supporting the protests which target controversial labour reform of governing Socialist Party.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

French labour union workers and students attend a demonstration against the French labour law proposal in Paris, France, April 9, 2016.

A slim majority of French people are in favour of protests against a deeply contested labour reform the governing Socialist Party is pushing through parliament, a poll showed on Sunday.

The government faces strikes and new waves of protests after opting last week to use a rarely used constitutional clause to pass the legislation in the face of opposition from rebel Socialist lawmakers and other leftists.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls gives a speech during a debate ahead of a no-confidence vote, on May 12, 2016 at the National Assembly in Paris.

Some 54 percent of those surveyed said they supported the protests against the law to free up France's rigid labour market while 45 percent did not, according to the BVA poll of 1,160 people on May 12 and 13 for Orange and Itele.

Support had fallen only slightly from the 56 percent when the poll was first conducted in early April.

Protesters' anger is focused on the government's plans to make hiring and firing easier in an attempt to get stubbornly high unemployment falling, with presidential elections a year away.

In Nice, on the Nuit Debout,April 8.

Street protests have been called for next week while unions have called on railway workers, dockers, truckers, airport and refinery workers to hold strikes.

Opposition to the reform has also spawned a series of protests by youths who have grown into a broader anti-establishment movement.

However, as those protests have become increasingly violent in clashes with riot police, their public support has fallen down 11 percentage points over one month to 49 percent, according to an Odoxa poll of 993 people on May 12 and 13 for Le Parisien newspaper.

In a visit to the western city of Rennes to support riot police enforcing a protest ban after violent clashes, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said 1,300 people had been arrested across France since the start of the protests two months ago.

"Maintaining order is harder than ever," he said, vowing to keep cracking down on any cases of "extreme violence."

French riot police use tear gas to clear the Place de la Republique in Paris during a protest by the Nuit Debout, or "Up All Night" movement who have been rallying against the French government's proposed labour reforms on April 29, 2016.

Police said that up to 2,000 people gathered on Sunday to demonstrate and hold concerts at Paris' Place de la Republique, where the youth protests first sprung up with all-night protests.

TRTWorld, Reuters