Protests within democracies are unlikely to topple a government in a revolutionary upheaval. Modern states are usually too strong for such an occurrence, but, as the Edward Heath administration showed, the issue settles on a question of governability. If protestors make life difficult, they are more likely to obtain a reversal at the ballot box. The incumbent is rendered unpopular and a more pliable alternative gains power. This is the reasoning behind the French protestors blackmailing the body politic.
France faces a crisis of governability. The reform on which this protest is based may be a slender reed, but the organised powers are looking for an excuse to act. It could be pension reform, tuition fees or any other modification to the client state. For the French, it just turned out to be raising the pensionable age.
The communist trade unions are strongest in the energy and transport sectors. They are determined to continue the disruption and capitalise upon the unpopularity of the President. Already, after the law is signed this week, new protests are planned for early November.
With this wave of strikes and violence, will the unions and affiliated bodies be able to maintain the level of disruption? As the economic damage increases, this becomes a trial of strength between unions and government. A "who runs the country" moment. It is not certain that an incumbent government will win such a struggle.
For the United Kingdom, industrial unrest ushered in five years of weak socialism. However, the two party system sheltered our parliamentary democracy from the extremes. France is more vulnerable to populist movements and extremism at elections. If these disruptions cause enough eceonomic damage, will we see a major upset? Worse than the Mitterand mirage of 1980?
As democracy has spread, we clearly see that revolution is ushered in through the ballot box.