Nicoloas Sarkozy is currently France’s really unpopular president. Sarkozy is in Rome because he desperately needs support for a couple of policy decisions he's made this year.
The French are made at Sarkozy for raising the retirement age. They are so mad, they’ve taken to protesting in the streets. Sarkozy’s team thinks a visit to the Vatican will muster up support for Sarkozy among France’s Catholic voters.
Conservative Catholics and others are angry with Sarkozy because of what the government calls the expulsion of gypsies, but what the Vatican considers to be the deportation of the Roma from France. The Vatican vocally opposed the deportation and criticized Sarkozy and his government. France began deporting gypsies late in the summer, a controversial government decision that some deem illegal, but most feel is discriminatory.
Because of the Vatican snub, Carla Bruni remained in Paris where French trade unions are protesting for the fifth day straight. There are more than 230 labor related rallies going on all over France today. Over one million people are expected to participate.
Ten of France’s oil refineries are closed due to strikes. The oil refinery strikes are a serious problem for France’s airports because supplies are needed and so is gasoline. There is a possibility that the fuel will be gone by Monday in at least one of the three airports.
Not only are laborers upset with Sarkozy’s economic policies, so are high school students. Yesterday, 550 high schools were closed as a result of protests. The day before, Thursday, two students were injured. 200 people were arrested.
Sarkozy raised the retirement age from 60 to 62. Truckers have joined the protest which adds to France’s mounting transportation problems. Trucking industry owners have asked that their drivers refrain from blocking roads with company vehicles during the protests.
Even though most every aspect of life in France is affected by the strike, particularly transportation, the government is not retreating. In fact, Sarkozy’s is preparing for his 2012 re-election campaign. His reforms were passed by the French legislature, but the French people say they are being taxed unfairly for a failing financial sector.