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EU-grondwet blijft splijtzwam binnen Franse socialistische partij (en)

French Socialists are split about which direction to take following the internal clashes earlier this year over the party's position on the EU constitution.

The party is meeting for a summer gathering this weekend, which some reports say could lead to serious rifts in France's main opposition party, before its crucial conference in November.

Divisions among its members date back to the French referendum on the new EU treaty in late May.

Hard-left and anti-European socialists - including the influential figure, former prime minister Laurent Fabius - rejected the document because of what they viewed as its ultra-liberal character, and their opposition to more powers transferred to Brussels.

This fraction now wants to destabilise the centrist leadership and push for a more anti-market and anti-EU rhetoric orientation, promoted by a handful of ambitious individuals, reports the Independent.

But several of the radical streams in the Socialist party are facing divisions within themselves, which analysts expect could help the party's centrist general secretary, Francois Hollande, to retain his current support from a majority of MPs and regional federations.

After hot summer, hot autumn

Meanwhile, commentators expect a hot autumn in Paris because of unpopular measures announced by the centre-right government.

Just before the summer, prime minister Dominique de Villepin - at his post for the first 100 days on 8 September - introduced a series of steps to cut the country's 10 percent unemployment rate.

They include measures to make it easier for businessmen to fire their employees, which has sparked a passionate opposition from strong trade unions.

Their leaders announced the first mass day of protest to be in late September and to mobilise over a million French workers, according to the Guardian.

The government is also facing discontent at falling spending power, caused by rising fuel prices, and popular anger over proposed education, civil service and health reforms.

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