France: Protests and no-confidence motions against Macron’s government – Politics

France: Protests and no-confidence motions against Macron’s government – Politics

It has been four days since the French government used the controversial article 49.3 of the French constitution to pension reform push through without a vote in the National Assembly. Since then the country has not calmed down. Just a few hours after the announcement, the first garbage cans were burning in Paris, and there were also spontaneous protests in several French cities over the weekend. In Bordeaux, opponents of reform blocked the train station platforms, and in Paris, demonstrators broke into the Les Halles shopping center. In Nice, unknown persons smashed the windows in the constituency office of the conservative Republican party leader. The interior minister has called on the prefectures to increase security measures for government majority MPs.

The maneuver is not without risk for the government. Article 49.3 makes it possible to attach a law to a vote of confidence. Instead of voting on the reform, MPs have the option to overthrow the government with a vote of no confidence. If there is no absolute majority for this, the law is deemed to have been passed. [Immer wieder haben französische Regierungen in der Vergangenheit von der Sonderklausel Gebrauch gemacht. Viele kritisieren sie als undemokratisch, so verhindere die Regierung eine Debatte und erpresse die Opposition.]

The controversial pension law provides for gradually raising the statutory retirement age from 62 to 64 years. In addition, the contribution years required for a full pension are to be increased to 43 years faster than previously planned. There have been repeated protests against the reform in recent weeks. Because the government does not have an absolute majority in the National Assembly, they would have needed the support of conservative Republicans if they voted in the National Assembly. It was considered unsafe until the very end. Hence the use of the constitutional clause.

As expected, the extreme right-wing Rassemblement National (RN) and the liberal faction Liot have meanwhile tabled motions of no confidence in the government. The National Assembly will vote on both motions on Monday.

It is considered unlikely that the government will actually be overthrown. The left-wing opposition parties had already made it clear in advance that they were not in favor of the application Marine Le Pen and want to vote for their MEPs. Both the RN and the left-wing Nupes alliance will probably vote for the Liot faction’s motion. For an absolute majority, it would also need the support of several conservative Republicans. Their party leader had promised in advance that his parliamentary group would not vote for a vote of no confidence. It is unclear whether all MPs will comply.

Nevertheless, the opposition has great expectations of the vote on Monday. “May they all be deposed”, tweeted the group leader of the left-wing La France Insoumise, Mathilde Panot. “You have to punish this government,” said Marine Le Pen. In the event that the government should actually be overthrown, President had Emmanuel Macron announced months ago that he would dissolve the National Assembly and call new parliamentary elections.

[Die Regierung versucht derweil, so viel Normalität wie möglich zu wahren. Auf die Frage nach ihrem Rücktritt verwies Élisabeth Borne im französischen Fernsehen auf das anstehende Misstrauensvotum: “Es wird in den nächsten Tagen eine Abstimmung geben.” Am Samstag empfing sie, wie in ihrem Kalender vorgesehen, Jugendliche zu einem Treffen an ihrem Amtssitz. Auch Emmanuel Macron, der in den vergangenen Wochen innenpolitisch ohnehin wenig präsent war, verfolgte sein übliches Programm weiter. Er hielt eine Rede zum Zustand der französischen Diplomatie und telefonierte mit der Präsidentin von Moldau.]

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