Fast Facts: France Labor Law Timeline

Key events in France's crisis over the new labor law:

May 31, 2005: French President Jacques Chirac appoints loyalist Dominique de Villepin as prime minister.

Aug. 2, 2005: Villepin's conservative government approves a hotly contested measure aimed at boosting employment by allowing small firms to fire employees easily within the first two years on a job.

Oct. 27, 2005: Accidental electrocution deaths of two teens sparks riots in poor Paris neighborhoods that spread to major cities. Youths torch thousands of cars and some public buildings. Riots last three weeks.

Jan. 16: Villepin announces a new job law that aims to reduce France's high youth unemployment rate — 23 percent nationwide and as much as twice that in the riot-wracked poor neighborhoods. It allows employers to fire 18- to 25-year-olds without reason for up to two years after hiring.

Jan. 31: Student groups and labor unions stage first demonstrations against the new law. Thousands march in Paris and other cities.

Feb. 9: Villepin pushes the legislation through parliament's lower house by invoking a rarely used rule that allows the majority to bypass floor debate.

March 9: Both houses of parliament give law final approval.

March 11: Riot police raid the Sorbonne University, ousting some 200 student protesters. Students shower chairs and ladders onto police officers.

March 18: At least a half-million people march in a nationwide demonstration against the job law. The Paris march ends in violence that leaves one demonstrator in a coma.

March 23: Rioters mixed in with demonstrators turn a park in front of Napoleon's tomb into a battlefield in the most widespread violence linked to the protests.

March 24: Villepin and union leaders hold their first talks on the law. No breakthrough.

March 28: More than 1 million demonstrators pour onto streets. Strikers shut down Eiffel Tower, disrupt train, plane, subway and bus services.

March 30: France's Constitutional Council rules that contract is constitutional.

March 31: Chirac says he will enact the law but seek to modify it.