Most French youth support ‘Up All Night’ – but few want to stay up

JOEL SAGET / AFP | People raise their hands as they take part in the "Nuit Debout" (Up All Night) movement on the Place de la République in Paris on April 10, 2016

Nearly seven out of ten French young people believe the “Up All Night” protest movement expresses their wishes, according to a survey published Thursday by the French marketing firm OpinionWay and the newspaper 20 Minutes.


Over the past two weeks, “Up All Night” (or Nuit Debout in French) protesters have occupied Paris’s Place de la République every night, and the movement has spread to a number of French towns and cities.

What began as a protest against the government’s proposed labour reforms has since drawn thousands of supporters and grown to encompass a wider range of social and economic grievances. Some in the media have called Up All Night the digital age’s version of France’s May 1968 revolutionary movement, while others have drawn comparisons to the 2011 Occupy movement in the United States and the Indignados in Spain.

Thursday’s survey questioned French people aged 18 to 30, more than two-thirds of whom said they thought that the movement represented young people’s demands, while only about a quarter said they were ready to spend a whole  night at an Up All Night protest.

Support 'from their computers'

Up All Night has certainly made a mark on French youth, with 96 percent of respondents saying they had heard of the movement. And far from being a fad among urban elite, as some media have suggested, Up All Night was familiar to 92 percent of young people living in rural areas. Fifty-six percent of them said they understood the movement's goals.

Close to 70 percent of respondents said that Up All Night expressed their demands. Among those who had heard of the movement, 21 percent said they “completely agreed” with the statement, “The people who participate in the Up All Night movement express their generation's demands”. Less than half of the respondents – 48 percent – said they only “more or less agreed” with the demands.

When asked whether they would support the movement, 24 percent of respondents said they “completely agreed’ and 36 percent they “mostly agreed”. Only 27 percent said they would “probably not” support the protesters, and 12 percent said “definitely not”.

But when it came to taking an active role in the protests, respondents were slightly less enthusiastic. As the name of the movement suggests, the “occupations” take place primarily at night, but only 26 percent of young people asked said they were willing to participate in an Up All Night protest “until the end of the night”. Another 14 percent said they were willing to participate only during the day. And 26 percent said they would support the movement “from their computers”.

A full third of those interviewed said they would not take any action to support Up All Night.

Not getting the message

Up All Night’s biggest obstacle going forward may be its mixed message. More than one out of two – 54 percent – of young French people interviewed said that the movement’s demands were not clear.

An Up All Night spokesperson declined to comment to FRANCE 24 on the study, but said that she “understood” people who thought the movement’s demands were unclear.

On other occasions, Up All Night organisers have explained that avoiding clear demands is part of a strategy for uniting disparate causes and movements.

“The movement’s message is very wide,” an organiser who wanted to be identified as Camille told FRANCE 24 earlier in April. “The important thing is that there are several causes and we have to group together toward the same goals. We are for reconstructing something on foundations that are more sound and citizen-oriented.”

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