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France: Macron’s opposition joined hands to topple the government and stop the pension law

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French President Emmanuel Macron’s opposition has tabled two motions of no confidence in the National Assembly this Friday with the intention of blocking unpopular pension reform and bringing down Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne’s government. The resolution most likely to succeed belongs to the small group of regionalists and centrist LIOT (the French acronym for Liberties, Independents, Overseas and Territories). Marine Le Pen’s far-right and left-wing coalition, the main opposition bloc, are both set to support her. He would be about 30 votes short of Los Republicanos (LR), the historic party of the liberal right and the fourth force in the chamber. It is not certain that they will be successful.

As the vote was being prepared, which was due to take place on Monday, spontaneous demonstrations and roads broke out across France. For the second night in a row, hundreds of people gathered in Paris’ central Place de la Concorde in front of the National Assembly. Police fired tear gas and arrested 38 people. Protests on Thursday night have already turned into brawls and barricades in several cities, following the adoption of the law through express means and without a vote. Law enforcement officers arrested 310 people nationwide. Unions have called for a ninth day of national mobilization next Thursday since the government introduced the bill in January.

The censure motion is a response to Macron’s decision to implement the pension reform by resorting to Article 49.3 of the constitution. The article allows the government to end parliamentary debates and adopt a legislative text without a vote. The opposition can block the law by presenting and winning a motion of no confidence. In this case, the prime minister and the government fall, and the law is rejected. Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) presented its own motion of no confidence, but it is less likely to succeed than LIOT, as most delegates would refuse to support the far-right text.

vote, sunday or monday

The opposition had 24 hours to present a motion of censure after the legislative text was adopted on Thursday. The requirement was that it should be signed by 58 people’s representatives. After this the vote is set within 48 hours. This could be from Sunday afternoon or, more likely, Monday morning.

If the no-confidence motion receives a majority, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne will have to resign along with her government. After this, President Macron will have two options. The first is to appoint a new prime minister and a new government. He doesn’t need a vote of confidence, but he can ask for one. The other option is to dissolve the National Assembly and call early legislative elections, leading to a new composition of the House, perhaps a new majority, and a new government.

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A group of protesters against Macron's pension reform in the Place de la Concorde in Paris this Friday.
A group of protesters against Macron’s pension reform in the Place de la Concorde in Paris this Friday.Geoffroy van der Hasselt (AFP)

Macron has privately indicated that he favors the second option: if the motion of no confidence is successful, he will dissolve the House and call legislative elections. In the current National Assembly, elected in June 2022, three parties supporting centrist Macron form the first bloc with 250 representatives. The left-wing coalition controlled by Eurosceptic anti-capitalist Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France Insumissa (LFI) has 149, of whom 74 are from the LFI. Le Pen RN, 88. LIOT, 20. The Republican, 61.

Republicans hold the key. Four representatives of this party have already said that they will vote in favor of the motion. On the left, adding three deputies from the RN, LIOT and the mixed group, they reach 264 seats. About 23 will be missing and the only fishing ground where they can get them is the LR. This weekend, each other’s efforts will be focused on convincing the doubters of this match.

Although LR leaders have spoken out in favor of reform and against the no-confidence vote, their ability to control their troops remains in doubt, as was demonstrated on Thursday. The liberal right has, historically, been in favor of the pension law’s most controversial measure: raising the retirement age from 62 to 64. However, on Thursday these leaders were unable to assure Macron that their group would support the measure. The numbers didn’t pan out for the president, or they were so tight — and the outcome uncertain — that he preferred not to risk it. Hence, they refused to ratify it with votes and opted for the fast track route by invoking 49.3.

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