French Government to Face No-confidence Vote Over Pension Reform
Story Code : 1047715
Opposition politicians have filed two no-confidence motions in protest at the government using controversial executive powers to raise the state pension age from 62 to 64.
The French president decided last week that the government should use article 49.3 of the constitution to bypass parliament, because he feared it could not garner enough votes for the pension changes.
After two months of protests against the pensions changes and on-off strikes headed by a rare united front of all trade unions, anger continued to mount during the weekend, with demonstrations in many towns. More rail, air and school strikes are planned over the next week.
The two no-confidence motions are seen as unlikely to pass, as they would require an unprecedented grouping together of all the warring opposition parties.
There would have to be a united front across the political spectrum – from the radical left to Marine Le Pen’s far-right and Nicolas Sarkozy’s rightwing Les Républicains – in order to meet the high threshold of an absolute majority of 287 votes.
One motion was proposed by the centrist group, Liot, as a kind of multiparty no-confidence motion, co-signed by the Nupes alliance of parties on the left. Another no-confidence motion has been proposed by Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party, which has 88 MPs.
The only way a no-confidence vote would pass would be with the support of a large number of MPs from Les Républicains. But the party’s leader, Éric Ciotti, has ordered his MPs not to vote against the government on the grounds it could lead to “chaos.”
Ciotti’s constituency office in the southern city of Nice was ransacked at the weekend. Windows were broken and graffiti on the walls threatened riots unless he supported the no-confidence vote.
“They want through violence to put pressure on my vote on Monday. I will never yield to the new disciples of the Terror,” Ciotti wrote on Twitter.
Other MPs from Les Républicains party said they were receiving hundreds of threatening emails a day.
A poll in the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday showed Macron’s popularity has dropped to its lowest since the gilets jaunes anti-government protests four years ago.
As police brace for a week of unpredictable, spontaneous protests in cities and small towns across France, the mood of anger was likened to the start of the gilets jaunes protests, when demonstrators in small towns and the countryside congregated on roundabouts and at street protests. The protests were initially against fuel tax rises but evolved to encompass a wider lack of trust in the political system.