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On January 16th 2006, the Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin unveiled the creation of the CPE, or Contrat Première Embauche (first employement contract), in response to youth unemployment, a problem that is now endemic in France. This new work contract was made for those under 26 and its main characteristic was to make layoffs easier during the first two years of employement.

The Prime Minister, knowing it was a highly sensitive matter for the youth, used a special proceeding to adopt the law without parliament's vote. This all occured during February school holidays but right after the end of these holidays, universities and high school students went on strike. They blocked entrance to universities and schools, and organized massive protests all over France to demand the withdrawal of the CPE.

Weakened by criticisms coming from all political sides and worn out by nearly three months of crisis during which pressure from the "anti-CPE" movement grew stronger and stronger, the Prime Minister announced the withdrawal of the CPE on April 10th. The Government was once more defeated by protestors and France showcased again its relatively unique approach to political proceedings compared to other Western democracies.

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