By Davide Basso
(EurActiv) — The no-confidence motion tabled by the left against the French government was rejected on Monday (12 June), although criticism of the separation of powers and rumours of a possible reshuffle persist.
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne’s government faced a new no-confidence motion on Monday (12 June), the 17th in the space of under a year. With 239 votes in favour, well short of the 289 needed, the motion was not adopted.
This did not, however, dampen the anger of part of the opposition, who tabled the motion on the basis that the government is undermining parliamentary democracy by pressurising the President of the National Assembly to avoid a vote on a repeal of the pension reform.
Socialist MP Valérie Rabault, who was defending the text on behalf of the left-wing coalition (NUPES), called on MPs to vote in favour of the no-confidence motion to “put an end to the discredit that the government is throwing on the National Assembly”.
The government has “opened up a dangerous path, that of arbitrariness” because the prime minister “put pressure on the President of the National Assembly” when she declared the amendment to repeal the pension reform inadmissible last Thursday, Rabault argued.
Communist MP Hubert Wulfranc expressed concern at the “accumulation and confusion of powers” which “the French people wanted to put an end to” by giving President Emmanuel Macron a relative rather than an absolute majority in the June 2022 elections.
Jean-Louis Thériot of the centre-right Les Républicains told the press that motion sought “to turn a page that no longer needs to be turned”, since the pension reform had been passed and promulgated.
Consequently, “this no-confidence motion makes no sense”, Thériot said.
Borne seeks to stay the course
The prime minister Elisabeth Borne told lawmakers that “this no-confidence motion [shows] that we are indeed in a parliamentary democracy” and that “the final word always goes to the National Assembly”.
Borne said she felt that the French can now see “those who extend their hand and those who refuse on principle to grasp it”, despite the fact that she was asked to broaden the majority last April by the President – without success so far. This would mean bringing more parties, especially the right-wing Les Républicains, in the majority.
Nevertheless, she emphasised, her government has managed to find “agreements and solutions on major issues” such as security and the energy transition, going on to list the files that are in progress.
A reshuffle on the cards?
The vote comes amid rumours of a government reshuffle, particularly amongst Macronist circles.
EURACTIV understands that a reshuffle could take place in June or the first week of July.
As the government seeks to consolidate and bolster its leadership, one alternate avenue to a reshuffle is an alliance between the presidential majority and the right.
The leader of the presidential party Renaissance, Stéphane Séjourné, has invited MPs “to a political meeting […] on the political context and the strategy of the majority” according to franceinfo radio.
According to the radio station, the aim is to establish and clarify the attitude that can be adopted towards LR, despite the right having on several occasions refused the possibility of formally forming a majority with the presidential camp.