French Government Faces No-Confidence Vote

France’s Socialist government faces a parliamentary vote of no confidence Thursday over a key package of reforms designed to energise the country’s sluggish economy.

The conservative opposition proposed the motion after Prime Minister Manuel Valls used a rare constitutional device earlier this week to push through the reforms without MPs being given the chance to vote.

The no-confidence motion could in theory bring down the government but analysts say there is little to no chance of that happening.

Valls resorted to forcing through the reforms because he feared that a sizeable group of left-wing rebels would block them in parliament.

However, these rebels have already said that, while they are opposed to the reforms, they would not go so far as to bring down the government over them.

The reforms, which include allowing more shops to open on Sunday and the liberalisation of certain inter-city bus routes, seek to open up France’s notoriously closed economy.

But they have proved controversial from the start and sparked the rare sight of white-collar workers such as notaries and pharmacists marching through the streets demanding the reforms be shelved.

“We’re not about to bring down the government,” said Francois de Rugy, co-leader of the Green group in parliament, which opposes the reforms.

A similar exercise took place in February when Valls pushed an earlier draft of the reforms through parliament.

That time, only 234 mainly opposition MPs voted to bring down the government, far short of the number required.

Valls has said the legislation is “essential for our country, for our economy and we cannot allow ourselves to fail.”

The package of reforms, known as the “Macron law” after the youthful banker-turned economy minister Emmanuel Macron, will return to the upper house Senate before being adopted definitively by the lower house National Assembly in July.

President Francois Hollande has vowed to have the laws on the statute book by French national day, July 14.


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