In a rather stunning move, France's prime minister Manuel Valls announced that the government would be invoking a little known, and seldom used, article of its constitution in order to bypass parliament and push through a controversial labor reform bill.
According to France 24, Article 49-3 of France's constitution allows for reform by decree, meaning the government can bypass parliament to enact laws as it sees fit. President Hollande also used the article last year in order to push a law through parliament that loosened restrictions on shops staying closed on Sundays.
"Because the country must move forward, the cabinet has authorized me to act on behalf of the government." Valls told lawmakers.
Massive and sometimes violent protests mainly by students and unions have taken place over the past few months in opposition of the proposed reforms, and given that an opinion poll found that 58% of the French public were opposed to the labor reforms, those protests will continue to intensify given this recent maneuver.
"It's a heavy-handed way of using the constitution to prevent the nation's representatives from having their say." said Laurent Baumel, a socialist lawmaker.
The government did scale back the reforms in an effort to appease trade unions, but ultimately the bill will allow up to a 48-hour workweek, as well as making layoffs easier for companies according to US News.
While we're a bit surprised that those who voted in a Socialist are shocked that the voice of the people was ignored, this decision to bypass parliament and ram reforms down the throat of the citizenry understandably generated quite a bit of anger. We will keep an eye on how the public reacts to this, but there is a good chance protests may intensify and Hollande may very well have stoked a mini-rebellion.
As a result, the relentless French protests against labor law reform were promptly renewed according to the BBC, with reports of rubber pellets and tear gas being used by police.