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By mmguestblogger  •  March 31, 2006 11:51 AM

Jacques Chirac is expected to take to the airwaves at 1 p.m. EST and inform France’s youth that, no, they’re not entitled to lifetime job security by age 26. French auto makers are already bracing for a spike in demand. Stay tuned to this post for updates in case protesters respond with insufficient “nuance.”

Brussels Journal reports that the issue has made for an odd reversal of political polarity:

The French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin told his party, the UMP, that there is “no question of withdrawing” the CPE bill. However, Nicolas Sarkozy, the Interior Minister and UMP party president, at once undermined Villepin’s statement by suggesting that the recently approved bill should be put on hold….

Sarkozy is behaving just like Villepin did last November: During the November riots, when immigrant youths went on the rampage for several weeks in the French suburbs, Sarkozy proposed a hardline “law and order” approach, while Villepin took the position of trying to “appease” the thugs. This time the two antagonists have switched roles.

French public opinion, predictably, is squarely on the side of free lunch:

Several polls reveal a strong majority wants the law withdrawn, with French youth especially opposed. A poll conducted March 21-22 by the French polling organization CSA found that 66 percent wanted the law withdrawn, while 25 percent opposed withdrawing it. Among those aged 18-29, three-fourths (74%) want the law withdrawn. The highest support for withdrawing the law was among 25-to-29-year-olds—78 percent; among 18-to-24-year-olds it was 72 percent.

Make sure to follow the link and examine the graphic illustrating public approval of free market systems generally. Compare the numbers for France to those of, say, China.

And one more poll, because I can’t resist: Gallup’s survey of Republicans’ and Democrats’ favorite foreign nations. Note which countries are at the far ends of the divide.

UPDATE: Breaking on CNN — as expected, Chirac will sign the bill limiting job rights for those 26 and under.

UPDATE: Beyond parody: he signed the bill, then immediately promised not to enforce it until it could be watered down.

Details here from the International Herald Tribune. Naturally, as ABC reports, “[t]he concessions appeared to anger, not appease, opponents of the law, who wanted it scrapped altogether.”

UPDATE: William F. Buckley: “A striking observation on the entire question was made by a student leader. He said, with reference to the flexibility factor that the CPE reform sought to achieve, that he had no interest whatever in economic flexibility: and went back to express himself on the streets with his picket sign.”

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