French government survives no-confidence votes

Lazy eyes listen


On Monday, the French National Assembly defeated two no-confidence motions, paving the way for President Emmanuel Macron’s unpopular pension reforms to become law.

The first motion, filed by a centrist coalition with broad Left support, received 278 votes in favour of censuring the government, falling just nine votes short of the required 287. The right-wing National Rally party’s second motion received only 94 votes.

Olivier Marleix, the leader of the majority Republicans party, committed his faction to supporting the government, acknowledging what he called “the need for a reform to save our pension system and defend retirees’ purchasing power,” even as a handful of party members defected to back the first no-confidence motion. Agnes Evren, the party’s vice president, had previously promised that only five Republican MPs would vote against Macron’s reforms, far short of the 30 needed to block the pension package. Several MPs claimed over the weekend that they had received death threats from constituents attempting to sway their votes on Monday’s motions.

Both initiatives were introduced on Friday, after Macron’s government avoided a vote in the National Assembly to impose unpopular pension reforms opposed by two-thirds of French voters. The package would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030, and the required employment period for a worker to receive a full pension upon retirement would be increased to 43 years.

While the reforms were approved by the Senate last week, Macron claimed there was “too much uncertainty” about their support in the lower house to leave it to chance, so he used a constitutional loophole to avoid a vote, which union leaders condemned as a “complete denial of democracy.” Several days of violent protests and riots followed in cities across the country, while a patchwork of strikes was declared.