The Global Report

Pension plans threaten to make Sarkozy a one-term president

Added under Labor

It was the second national strike in France in a fortnight, closing schools, grounding planes, shutting railways and even stopping the presses of Le Monde.

The unions said 3 million workers turned out in protest last Thursday, while the government insisted fewer than a million had bothered to take to the streets.

Whatever the truth, Nicolas Sarkozy is facing a defining moment in his presidency.

In the past 30 years, only one French president has failed to win a second term. In 1981 Valery Giscard d'Estaing was defeated by Francois Mitterrand, who went on to grant the French one of the lowest retirement ages in Europe.

The decision to wind back this popular reform - to lift the retirement age from 60 to 62 - is likely to become the issue that makes or breaks Sarkozy.

With less than two years before the next presidential election campaign, he is staring down a couple of popular left-wing opponents: the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and the mayor of Lille, Martine Aubry.

Sources: Telegraph (UK)

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