A poll conducted Wednesday showed approval ratings on the order of 75-80% on the part of the French public for measures taken by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin in response to two weeks of rioting in French banlieues, the Financial Times reported.[1]  --  "For the first time, Mr. de Villepin came out on top in a head-to-head comparison with Mr. Sarkozy in an IFOP agency poll," Martin Arnold noted.  "The prime minister was preferred by 52 per cent of French voters, against 44 per cent for Mr. Sarkozy."  --  But "Jérome Fourquet, political opinion director at IFOP, said Mr. Sarkozy was still well ahead where it mattered most: among rightwing voters, about two-thirds of whom said they preferred him to Mr. de Villepin," Arnold observed.  --  Villepin had been sharply criticized the day before by Le Monde for overreacting, but public appears not to agree with that view.[2]  --  On Thursday morning, Le Monde (Paris) reported that the number of violent acts on the 14th night of rioting was done continued a downward trend.[3] -- No Paris-region locality imposed the new measures. ...




By Martin Arnold

Financial Times (UK)
November 9, 2005


PARIS -- Dominique de Villepin's decision to declare a state of emergency seemed to be paying off yesterday as rioting decreased across France and the prime minister's response to the crisis met with broad public approval.

Although critics continued to attack his use of a 1955 curfew law used to put down unrest during the Algerian war, the prime minister was buoyed by increased anger among voters against the disorder. He has also benefited from muted criticism from the opposition Socialist party, which is hamstrung by divisions over strategy and its recognition that both political parties are equally to blame for the social crisis exposed by the rioting.

Almost three-quarters of French people supported the prime minister's decision to resort to emergency powers to clamp down on rioters, according to a poll by CSA published in Le Parisien newspaper yesterday.

The poll was conducted a day after Mr. de Villepin appeared on television to address the crisis. It found more than 80 per cent of people backed his two other main initiatives: extending apprenticeships to younger people and boosting local association funding.

The popular support for Mr. de Villepin's response to the crisis seems to have boosted his image among French voters, while denting that of Nicolas Sarkozy, his interior minister and likely rival for the 2007 presidential elections.

For the first time, Mr. de Villepin came out on top in a head-to-head comparison with Mr. Sarkozy in an IFOP [= Institut Français d'Opinion Publique, founded in 1938 by Jean Stoetzel, a professor of social psychology at the Sorbonne inspired by contact with George Gallup to found a French polling organization] agency poll published in Paris Match today. The prime minister was preferred by 52 per cent of French voters, against 44 per cent for Mr. Sarkozy.

The interior minister angered many people in France's large Muslim community and was widely blamed by leftwing politicians for provoking the rioters by referring to them as "scum" and "riffraff."

Jérome Fourquet, political opinion director at IFOP, said Mr. Sarkozy was still well ahead where it mattered most: among rightwing voters, about two-thirds of whom said they preferred him to Mr. de Villepin.

Though curfews were imposed in only a few areas by Tuesday night, the rioting showed signs of calming down. The police said 617 vehicles were set on fire that night compared with 1,173 vehicles the previous night. Yesterday evening rioting again appeared to have decreased. "We're seeing a strong decrease in hostile acts," said Michel Gaudin, France's chief of police, who said 280 arrests were made on Tuesday. The Ile-de-France region around Paris was calmer, as were Toulouse, Bordeaux, and Strasbourg.

Even if the violence dies down, political recriminations and debates are expected to intensify. Jack Lang, former Socialist culture minister, yesterday blamed the government for cutting spending on local associations and on subsidized jobs for young people in poor areas. "It is like a bad joke to see Mr. de Villepin saying he is going to restore a part of the measures already destroyed by the right three years ago," Mr. Lang said yesterday.

Mr. de Villepin's plan to lower the age for apprenticeships to 14 from 16 for children failing at school came under fire from teachers. They said it would undermine the principle of compulsory education for all up to the age of 16, a pillar of French education policy.

"For the children who experience social relegation on a daily basis, it is a return to a method . . . abandoned 30 years ago," said the teachers trades union. Others argued apprenticeships could offer better prospects for the more than 150,000 children leaving school every year without qualifications. The government aims to increase the number of apprenticeships from 362,000 to 500,000. Manuel Valls, Socialist mayor of Evry, a poor town south of Paris, said: "Apprenticeships are a real answer to the problems of hundreds of young people in the suburbs failing in school."




By Peggy Hollinger

Financial Times (UK)
November 9, 2005 (orig. posted Nov. 8)


Dominique de Villepin, France’s prime minister, was accused on Tuesday of losing his sang-froid after resorting to a state of emergency to quell riots that have set the suburbs of France’s biggest cities alight during the past 12 days.

The accusations came as France was hit by a 13th night of violence -- though less serious than the peak of two nights ago -- incidents were reported in the cities of Toulouse, Amiens, and Lyon.

Le Monde, the newspaper of France’s political elite, accused the prime minister of sending a message of “staggering brutality” to the youth of the suburbs, who are for the most part children and grandchildren of African immigrants.

By invoking a law created in 1955 to put down unrest during the Algerian war of independence, Le Monde said, Mr. de Villepin had “lost his sang-froid” and was sending the message that “France intends to treat them [the French-born children of immigrants] as it did their grandparents. The prime minister should remember that this spiral of incomprehension, of martial fever, and powerlessness has driven the republic to its worst setbacks.”

Mr. de Villepin, speaking on Tuesday to deputies in an emergency parliamentary debate on the crisis, said the French Republic was facing its “moment of truth . . . What is in question today is the effectiveness of our model of integration.”

The government has struggled to put down the most serious wave of riots since the student unrest of 1968. The law will allow local authorities to impose a curfew, restrict movement, and launch raids on residences day or night where it is deemed necessary.

One man has died and 6,000 cars have been torched during the riots, which began after two boys from immigrant families died in an apparent attempt to escape police. The unrest has become a stark symbol of France’s failure to integrate its minority communities, most of which live in the bleak suburbs of France’s cities, and where the jobless rate among young people is often two or three times the national average.

While France’s political parties support the government’s decision to impose a state of emergency to restore order -- albeit with some reservations -- a number of deputies and mayors said on Tuesday they would refuse to implement the measures.

André Labarrère, a Socialist senator and mayor of the south-western city of Pau, said he was “totally opposed” to the state of emergency. “It is a form of discrimination that will be very badly received.”

Jean-Marc Ayrault president of the Socialist party, said the opposition was prepared to accept the measures because of the urgent need to restore order. However, he warned against using the state of emergency, which will be in place for the next 12 days, as a smokescreen to cover up deeper social problems. It was “first and foremost a social state of emergency”, he said. “The young people in revolt are the lost children of a liberal society.”

The criticism came as the Mr. de Villepin announced a package of measures to redirect resources to France’s most deprived urban areas. They include accelerating training and job seeking programs for unemployed youths from these areas, increasing aid for urban renewal, and measures to boost education resources and scholarships.

Aziz Senni, a Moroccan-born businessman and author of the book The social escalator is brokenL'Ascenseur social est en panne... : J'ai pris l'escalier !* (http://www.amazon.fr/exec/obidos/ASIN/2841877442/qid%3D1131605683/402-2589896-2421718) (L'Archipel, 2005], 206 pp., this book by a 29-year-old entrepreneur from the banlieues was published in October and is becoming a best-seller], I took the stairs, was disappointed by the response. “What is needed today is political courage, which I have not seen from either the president or the prime minister.”


[Translated from Le Monde (Paris)]


Le Monde (Paris)
November 10, 2005


The curfew became effective on Wednesday evening, November 9, in several cities in five French departments, as the downward trend in urban violence continued, notably in the Paris region, where the riots began.

On this fourteenth consecutive night of violence, 394 burned vehicles and 169 arrests were recorded at 4:00 a.m., according to a provisional count by the DGPN [= Direction générale de la police nationale]. On the preceding night at the same time, these figures stood at 558 and 204, respectively. No police were wounded in the course of the evening, according to the same source.

This provisional toll, according to the DGPN, "marks the continuation of the downward trend already observed in Île-de-France," where 79 vehicles burned, compared to 140 the night before -- and in the provinces 315 vehicles burned, compared to 418 the night before.

The curfew for minors was imposed only in five departments: one part of Alpes-Maritimes, Somme (Amiens), Seine-Maritime (Rouen, Elbeuf, and Le Havre), and Loiret (six communes, including Orléans). In Eure, in the La Madeleine neighborhood of Evreux, the measure, which also affected adults, became effective at 10:00 p.m. The CRS [= Compagnie Républicaine de Securité, the state security police] patrolling this neighborhood asked people to return home. "For the moment, everything has gone very well. There were people who didn't know about the curfew. We explained that they had to return home. Tonight, it's pedagogical, but tonight only," declared the prefect of Eure, Jacques Laisné, who accompanied a CRS patrol, to journalists.


Many prefects, including those in the departments of Île-de-France, on Wednesday chose for the time being not to decree a curfew, because of the decrease in incidents. Overall, the situation was already being judged "calmer" on Wednesday at the beginning of the evening by security forces, notably in Seine-Saint-Denis, where the "crisis cell" put in the place by the prefecture at the height of the urban violence was deactivated.

In a parallel development, calls for a return to calm multiplied. A collective grouping neighborhood associations called, on Wednesday, after a meeting with the prime minister, for "a march for peace" on Friday on the Champs-Élysées in Paris in order to ask that violence stop in the banlieues. This demonstration has "not in any case been authorized," the police prefecture stated in the course of the night, however.

The decree instituting the state of emergency "beginning on November 9, 2005, at midnight" was published Wednesday in the Journal officiel. The prefects can, in particular, decide on measure to restrict the movement of persons and/or vehicles, in specified places and areas, according to precise schedules. They may also institute protection or security zones where how long people may stay will be subject to rules, and they may forbid access to all or port of a department to any persons seeking to interfere with the action of public powers.

Translated by Mark K. Jensen
Associate Professor of French
Department of Languages and Literatures
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, WA 98447-0003
Phone: 253-535-7219
Home page: http://www.plu.edu/~jensenmk/
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