Backlash!

Will the French revolt cripple European reform?

For free marketers, it was a breath of fresh air. Last July, French carmaker Renault, 46% government-owned and hit with massive losses, announced it would close its 3,100-worker plant in Vilvoorde, Belgium, and lay off 3,000 employees back in France. The move was hailed as a triumph of corporate common sense over labor-coddling tradition. But campaigning before France's June 1 election, candidate Lionel Jospin promised voters that if he became France's new Prime Minister, he would push Renault managers to reverse their decision and restore the French and Belgian jobs.

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