The Independent: Why Nicolas Sarkozy Could Win Still French Pension Strike

10/22/2010 05:56 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

By John Lichfield, The Independent

France adores dates. It likes to name laws and streets and ships and historical events after them. How will October 2010 be remembered in French history?

As a May 1968? A November 2005? A July 1789? Or as just another of the left-reactionary movements against movement seen in 1995, 2003 and 2006?

An air of May 1968 hung over the Left Bank of Paris yesterday as 4,000 students (some of them rather old) marched raucously against President Nicolas Sarkozy's pension reform. If so, this was a May 1968-lite. Relatively few lycée or university students turned up.

A whiff of the suburban riots of November 2005 (the whiff of teargas) has hung over parts of France in recent days. There was scattered violence in the centre of Lyon again yesterday, mostly the work of 14 to 15-year-old disaffected kids from the city's ring of poor, multi-racial suburbs.

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