The death of Oussekine, a 22-year-old student, after a post-midnight beating by police last week embittered the students, radicalized their movement and shook the [Jacques Chirac] government. After two more days of stubborn insistence that the country needed some university reform, if only a little, Chirac finally capitulated to the students.
Most political analysts were convinced that the student victory had been turned into a considerable political victory for Socialist President Francois Mitterrand, who told a nationwide radio audience Tuesday night that he had asked Chirac several times to withdraw the bill. Mitterrand sounded condescending as he complimented Chirac for finally doing the right thing "in time, a little late, but in time."
Chirac's political position was further undercut Wednesday when former Premier Raymond Barre, one of the most popular conservatives in the country and a probable conservative rival of Chirac in the 1988 presidential election, said that Chirac had been trying to move too fast in social change.