We use cookies to help improve and maintain our site. More information.

October 21, 2019

Philippe to brace for more union protests

The French government is bracing itself for massive social mobilisation against pension reform. A prelude has been the Paris metro strikes in September and the wildcat strikes of SNCF trade unions last weekend. The spontaneous strikes were called after a train accident in eastern France. The one-conductor-per-train policy introduced a decade ago meant that a train driver, who was himself injured in the accident, was forced to walk for miles to call for help for eleven injured passengers in the train. All trade unions united in strike actions on Friday and over the weekend. They now also consider to join the RATP for their unlimited strike against the pension reform early December. Imagine no trains and metros in the pre-Christmas period, a nightmare!

Can the government keep public opinion on its side under these circumstances? At the moment Edouard Philippe says all cards are still on the table. He tuned down the expectations about the reform timetable. There also seems some flexibility about when it will kick in, in extremis the new regime could start with the generation that is just entering the labour market. But Emmanuel Macron will be keen to deliver what he considers to be a-make-or-break-reform. Also, while the gilets jaunes protests dissipated, the rebellious mood in society has not. The pension reform may not on the public radar screen just yet. At the moment, the trade unions are just seen as fighting for their own generous pension systems. But once the public faces the consequences for their own pensions, public opinion could well shift.

The confrontation with the trade unions has just started. Philippe may threaten legal actions against the illegal strikes last weekend, but he hardly can afford to radicalise trade unions ahead of the pension reform talks. 

Show Comments Write a Comment

October 21, 2019

Greens are the electorates' new favourite

Green parties are the big winners in elections these days. The latest example are the elections in Switzerland. The two green parties there together reached 21% yesterday, increasing their share by 9pp since the last elections in 2015. Their victory will shake up the composition of the seven-seat Bundesrat, which hardly ever changed over the past decades. Clearly, the green movement and the Friday for future protests had been a vote changer. It brought up a deb ate on the cli mate change and its impact on Swiss glaciers in particular. It mobilised young voters as well as defenders of natural reserves to back the Greens in the elections.

In Austria the Greens advanced to become the favorite candidate to enter into government. Public opinion clearly changed since before the elections, considering now the Greens as the ideal candidate for a coalition with the conservative ÖVP under Sebastian Kurz leadership.  The far-right FPÖ, Kurz' former coalition partner, clearly lost backing in the polls. A Der Standard poll shows that a majority of 63% want to see a Green minister in the cabinet, 45% also favour the liberals represented in the new government, but only 23% still see the FPÖ in government. Unsurprisingly, Sebastian Kurz has the unchallenged backing to become the next chancellor, the question though remains whether he can secure a coalition agreement that is in sync with voters' expectations and at what price.

Show Comments Write a Comment

This is the public section of the Eurointelligence Professional Briefing, which focuses on the geopolitical aspects of our news coverage. It appears daily at 2pm CET. The full briefing, which appears at 9am CET, is only available to subscribers. Please click here for a free trial, and here for the Eurointelligence home page.


Recent News

  • January 22, 2020
  • Erdogan and European Libya diplomacy
  • On the importance of mutual recognition agreements in the Brexit trade talks
  • September 17, 2019
  • Beware of the diplomacy of humiliation
  • Germany’s climate hypocrisy
  • May 10, 2019
  • Target2 debate raises legitimate questions with unsatisfactory answers
  • No more German questions please
  • January 04, 2019
  • Will the AfD become the Dexit party?
  • Romania's corruption problem in the spotlight of its EU presidency
  • August 28, 2018
  • Urban politics and national crisis - the Irish case
  • How anti-semitism became one of the main issues in British politics
  • April 23, 2018
  • More bad news for the SPD
  • Will Theresa May accept a customs union? The Times says yes. We think so too.
  • A comeback for Marine Le Pen?
  • December 21, 2017
  • Catalonia votes
  • A deputy prime minister resigns
  • Will Gibraltar result in another Irish fudge?
  • Blood, sweat and tears
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • April 19, 2017
  • Shadows of money
  • Breppe Grillo vs Eurointelligence
  • December 19, 2016
  • Inside the customs union, outside the single market
  • Back to the future in Italy
  • The lessons from Fillon's first gaffe
  • Montebourg - a bit of everything
  • The Maastricht error
  • If Paul Romer is right...
  • August 22, 2016
  • Gold for Brexit
  • EU and Turkey talking past each other
  • Switzerland is the next migrant transit country
  • On the death of neoliberal economics
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • March 19, 2020
  • A useful step - but much, much more is needed
  • The good that can come out of this
  • March 03, 2020
  • On the unintended consequences of GDPR
  • February 17, 2020
  • Security issues we should be discussing
  • Salvini has changed his mind on the euro - yet again
  • February 02, 2020
  • Is Sinn Fein the Irish anti-establishment vote?
  • Don’t assume that nobody will follow the Brits
  • January 20, 2020
  • The EU in a diplomatic bear hug
  • French pension strikes come to a halt as violence grows
  • Scholz to stick to fiscal surplus in 2021
  • January 06, 2020
  • A decade that started with a bang
  • What to expect of Spain's next government
  • Divide et impera: Macron's pension reform strategy
  • December 16, 2019
  • What the failure in Madrid says about multilateral governance
  • December 04, 2019
  • Towards a European green new deal
  • Nato summit on Turkey amid disunity
  • November 25, 2019
  • Twenty years on - and less safe than ever
  • Philippe's last round of talks ahead of strike actions
  • November 18, 2019
  • Is Macron facing another uprise against elites?
  • Forget the inflation target: Lagarde’s job is much bigger.
  • November 11, 2019
  • Grand coalition agrees to continue grand coalition
  • Can Greens and conservatives agree on priorities?
  • Germany - self-content and without energy
  • November 05, 2019
  • Grassroot movements and a new era of instability
  • October 31, 2019
  • Meet Workington Man
  • NordStream 2 get final go-ahead
  • October 27, 2019
  • German political centre is melting
  • Train drivers in all-out confrontation with Macron
  • Erdogan makes threats again
  • October 24, 2019
  • Will the Bundestag stop Merkel's 5G unilateralism?
  • October 22, 2019
  • High stake poker with Turkey
  • Without EU accession prospect, what is at stake for Macedonia?
  • October 21, 2019
  • Philippe to brace for more union protests
  • Greens are the electorates' new favourite