France: Random Facts and Trivia

Some random facts and trivia for the country of the world France, the 70s government progressive movement, some rights given, some still not granted.



In May, 1968, a group of students at the University of Nanterre (Paris) rebelled against the educational system. They paralyzed the university and started to build another one in its place, a free university. This spontaneous movement shut down France for a month while solidarity grew between the people and the students being attacked by the police. Barricades were set up in the Latin Quarter; there was a general strike and the prevailing powers were forced to retreat. De Gaulle resigned some time later. The explosion of new ideas of May, 1968, is conditioning French political life today (i.e. giving the vote to 18-year-olds, an abortion law, workers' self-management, etc.). The conflict concerning the LIP watch factory (1973-1974) can be explained by May, 1968: Without respecting the union leadership, the employees seized the factory which was close to going bankrupt, continued production, sold stock, negotiated directly with the financiers and the Government, and the business got going again.

Almost 50% of the French voted for a socialist President in 1974. The Government of Giscard d'Estaing felt the reality of its near defeat (0.8%) and quickly set up a legislative system which applied a number of measures that the socialists were asking for. They:

-gave 18-year-olds the right to vote

-offered free contraception

-legalized abortion

-passed reform laws concerning women

-liberalized the state-monopolized radio-television media

At the same time, the Government announced it was going to:

-end official telephone wiretaps

-stop censoring the news and stop seizure of newspapers

-permit associations to be formed and meetings to be held freely

-stop keeping files on people (There are files kept on 8 million people in France; the "Jewish File" of the Gestapo still exists.)

But the French are still waiting for:

-the end of "arrest on sight." A person can be arrested for 24 hours (or more if it is for state security) without having the right to let anyone know about it.

-the end of "preventative" detention (being put in prison before being sentenced or even tried).

-the end of police corruption. Identification cards are not mandatory, but if a person does not have one he or she can be arrested for "verification."

-the end of secret house searches without a search warrant.

-the end of secret judicial orders.

They are also waiting for humane, democratic legislation of the habeas corpus type, that is in the interest of the 3 million foreigners (800,000 Algerians, 700,000 Portuguese, plus Spanish, Yugoslavians, Moroccans, Senegalese, Turks, etc.) who make the French factories operate.

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