“But his mission to shake France out of its old over-regulated habits and revitalise the economy could prove to be tougher than expected, in the face of a weaker than expected economy and the global stock market crisis.”
Traditionally strong French unions – whose members stand to lose employment rights – have threatened action if they are not consulted over changes.
Jean Claude Mailly, of the Force ouvriere workers union, said: “As usual in France, unions know how to mobilise people and we proved it again in 2006.
“It really depends on how much the governement attacks the pension system, the rights within companies or if jobs are at risk. If he doesn’t negotiate, then everything is possible.”
Despite the risks, Sarkozy has vowed to press ahead with further reforms and has sought to portray himself as an energetic leader trying to fundamentally change what it means to be French.