Reform At Last In France?

Juppe's moves are having an impact

Even by the stressed-out standards of a Prime Minister, Alain Juppe has had some tough weeks lately. Within seven days in mid-November, truckers blockaded roads around 30 cities in France in a dispute over pay and retirement terms, singling out Bordeaux, where Juppe is mayor, for the worst treatment. Militant unions were maneuvering to turn the fracas into a nationwide strike. Currency traders hammered the franc, forcing Juppe to prop it up. The head of a state-owned bank whom Juppe fired for opposing a government privatization plan refused to leave. To cap it off, Juppe's latest approval ratings came in at 22%, the lowest for any French Prime Minister on record.

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