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Talking Europe

Talkin' about a revolution: France mulls legacy of May 68 protests

This week we're talkin’ about a revolution... or was it? Fifty years on from the protests, strikes and nationwide unrest that shook France in May 1968, we're considering the legacy of that legendary month. What began with student demonstrations grew into nationwide wildcat strikes. As chaos spiralled, President de Gaulle secretly fled to Germany – returning to call and ultimately win elections, though his personal popularity was deeply tarnished.

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Fast-forward 50 years and France has a president who’s made no secret of his ambitions to shake up the economy, while trade unions see Emmanuel Macron as a man who threatens hard-won social protections.

So what did May 68 change? Have those changes endured? How should we read the violence in Paris on May Day 2018? And where is President Macron taking France and its much-cherished social protections in 2018?

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