French jobless invade chic Sarkozy-linked restaurant

AFP , Wednesday 7 Mar 2012

Unemployed and trade unionist protesters storm high end Champs Elysees restaurant, where France's Sarkozy feted his 2007 election win

Jobless protesters briefly invaded Wednesday the luxury restaurant on the Champs Elysees where President Nicolas Sarkozy notoriously feted his 2007 election win, organisers and police said.

In May 2007, in what is now seen as the first public relations disaster of his first term, Sarkozy celebrated his presidential election victory with his inner circle and wealthy business leaders at Fouquet's.

The choice of such an extravagant venue -- and the starry guest list -- helped cement the new French leader's image as a president for the rich and famous, and the hotel's name has become synonymous with his style of rule.

Sarkozy is running for re-election and on Tuesday night was again asked about the party in a television interview, admitting he would not pick the same spot again, and blaming tensions in his marriage for the decision.

According to two labour groups representing the unemployed and economically vulnerable, around 100 jobless protesters and trade unionists tried to occupy the hotel's Champs Elysees restaurant before being surrounded by police.

A police source confirmed they had intervened and added that two arrests had been made after two hotel employees were hurt in the incident.

Sarkozy came to power promising to reduce France's unemployment rate to five percent over his first term, but it has instead grown to close to 10 percent, and polls suggest he is on course for defeat.

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