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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Council Signs Off on French Labor Law

PARIS -- France's Constitutional Council signed off Thursday on a contested labor law that has sparked massive protests, leaving President Jacques Chirac with the tough decision of what to do next.

Chirac can either promulgate the law championed by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin -- at the risk of further strikes and demonstrations -- or seek a negotiated solution, perhaps by sending the law back to parliament or by proposing modifications.

Rarely had a decision by the council, which rules on the constitutionality of French laws, been so awaited. The student- and union-led protest movement has plunged Chirac's government into crisis, and a decision to strike it down would have offered a way out.

Lawmakers in Chirac's governing majority said they expected him to promulgate the law quickly -- a decision likely to further infuriate protesters.

To soften the anger, Chirac may offer talks with labor leaders or appoint a mediator to deal with their concerns, lawmakers said.

Swelling protests -- more than 1 million demonstrators took to French streets Tuesday on a nationwide day of strikes -- have plunged Villepin's government into crisis, split his conservative majority and possibly killed his chances of running for the presidency next year.

The law's most contested part is a new job contract that provides for a two-year trial period for people under 26, during which time they can be fired for no reason.