February 17, 2009

A senior aide to French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned that countries risked seeing explosions of popular anger comparable with the riots seen in Greece unless governments provided some protection to industry.

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Henri Guaino, one of Sarkozy’s inner circle of advisers, told Le Monde that without some commonly agreed rules on reasonable levels of protection and government intervention more uncontrolled outbreaks of populism and xenophobia were likely.

“We should take this risk very seriously,” he said in an interview which appeared on Tuesday.

He said the riots in Greece, strikes in Britain in protest against foreign temporary workers in the energy sector or anti-government protests in Iceland were an example of what could happen in other countries.

“This crisis is already going through all the chapters of an economics textbook. We should be careful that it doesn’t also go through a history textbook as well,” he said.

Guaino’s comments come in the middle of a growing debate over the risks of protectionism in the world economy with France under fire over comments by Sarkozy criticising French carmakers which located factories in countries like the Czech Republic.

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