International

As New French Retirement Age Becomes Law, Sarkozy Faces Reckoning

People demonstrate in Paris, on November

hide captionThe law is a victory for President Sarkozy, who faced strident opposition from French unions. This photo shows a union protest against the measure in Paris.

Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images

A day after French President Nicolas Sarkozy signed it, a change in the retirement age is now law. The minimum retirement age is now 62, two years later than it used to be, and in order to receive full pension benefits, the French will now have to work until they're 67.

The move pitted Sarkozy against unions and has been so controversial, the country has faced strikes and some protests against the change devolved into riots.

The Guardian quotes Sarkozy as saying the austerity measure "saved" the pension system and looks at this legislative win in terms of the larger political context:

Sarkozy's success gives him an international boost as France prepares to take over the leadership of the G20 group of leading economies from Friday.

At home, however, things will be tough. The French president's approval ratings are in the 30s. The AP reports:

Sarkozy has not yet announced whether he will run in the 2012 presidential election. But with the retirement fight behind him, he can now try to rebuild his popularity at home. During the debate, his approval ratings hovered near their lowest levels since he took office 3-1/2 years ago.

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