Barely Hanging On: Macron Narrowly Survives Confidence Vote Despite Ongoing Protests

TOPSHOT - Members of National Assembly parliamentary group La France Insoumise (LFI) and l
BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images

The government of French President Emmanuel Macron has narrowly survived two confidence motions in the French parliament after forcing through highly controversial retirement reforms.

The French parliament saw two confidence motions on Monday, with one failing to pass by just nine votes after the government of President Emmanuel Macron forced through pension reforms that raised the retirement age.

The first confidence motion was tabled by the centrist group Liot and managed to clear 278 votes, but fell just short of the 287 votes needed to pass the vote and bring down the government which has a minority in the French parliament, France24 reports. The margin of failure was reportedly much slimmer than anticipated, so while Macron survived this time it may be the case the vote signals to dissident MPs that the government is actually less strong than first thought.

A second confidence motion was also proposed by populist Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) but did not attract as much support as the first and also fell short of the 287 votes needed.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne spoke prior to the votes on the confidence motions and attempted to defend the government’s position on invoking Article 49.3 of the French constitution, which allows the government to force through legislation despite not having a majority of votes in parliament for it. Prime Minister Borne was met with jeers as she spoke in the chamber.

The pension reform, which raises the French retirement age from 62 to 64, is now largely seen as being passed into law following the failures of the confidence motions, but both the populist-right National Rally and the far-left NUPES group will look to take the matter to the Constitutional Council.

“We are coming to the end of the democratic process of this essential reform for our country. It is with humility and seriousness that I assumed my responsibility and that of my Government. For our pay-as-you-go pension system. For our social model,” Prime Minister Borne said following the votes.

Monday’s votes also come after days of protesting and rioting in the wake of the pension reforms as well as workers’ strikes.

Last week saw hundreds of people arrested in Paris on Thursday when President Macron’s government announced it would be using Article 49.3 to force through the pension reform as rioters set fires and clashed with police.

Protests and riots continued over the weekend, with 81 people arrested in Paris on Saturday night despite the government ordering a ban on protests in the French capital.

Striking garbage workers in Paris have also impacted the city, as an estimated 10,000 tonnes of garbage piling up on the city’s streets. Animal toxicologist and specialist in rats and invasive species Romain Lasseur warned the city could face a rat invasion as a result of the garbage.

“They will walk in the garbage cans, reproduce there, and leave their urine and droppings. There is a worrying health risk, for garbage collectors and the population in general, especially with leptospirosis,” Lasseur said.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)



Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.