Macron (Barely) Survives 'No Confidence' Vote Amid French Pension Reform Protests
Update (1400ET): French President Emmanuel Macron’s government narrowly survived a no-confidence vote in the National Assembly on Monday, fending off an effort to kill his contentious pension overhaul and topple his administration.
As The Wall Street Journal reports, the no-confidence motion spearheaded by a group of centrists won the support of 278 lawmakers in the lower house of parliament, a mere nine votes short of a majority.
Lawmakers are expected to vote later Monday on a second no-confidence motion filed by Marine Le Pen’s National Rally.
That measure is unlikely to pass because conservative and left-leaning lawmakers have said they won’t back a no-confidence motion put forward by the far-right party.
As Remix News' John Cody detailed earlier, after French President Emmanuel Macron pushed through pension reform without a vote in parliament, the backlash has been fierce, and there is now a good chance that a no-confidence vote this week could collapse his government. Even if he survives the vote, commentators say that Marine Le Pen has never been in a better position, with the conservative populist emerging as the “victor” in the fierce debate over pension reform.
Macron’s decision to turn to Article 49.3 of the French constitution, which allows him to bypass parliament and increase the retirement age from 62 to 64 via decree, had been labeled the “nuclear option” by the French press.
France🇫🇷 Macron is learning what it means to go against The People.— Dr. Anastasia Maria Loupis (@DrLoupis) March 16, 2023
However, within the article is a clause that a vote of no-confidence can be tabled within 24 hours after Article 49.3 is used, and if it succeeds, it would mean the end of Macron’s government.
Spontaneous riots have already erupted across the country, resulting in over 258 arrests in Paris alone, but the press and political analysts are warning that worse unrest is on the horizon.
Armored Paris, demonstrations banned. Macron is afraid. pic.twitter.com/ZYWdjlU76y— RadioGenova (@RadioGenova) March 19, 2023
Hundreds of thousands have been driven onto the streets in recent weeks in defiance of Macron’s pension reform, and polling consistently shows approximately 75 percent of the French public rejects raising the retirement age.
These protests could help fuel the drive for a no-confidence vote, with Le Pen quickly announcing she would pursue a vote of no confidence immediately after Macron rammed through the pension reform. So far, Le Len’s National Rally and the left-wing France Unbowed have blocked each other when it came to attempts to remove French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, who remains a close ally of Macron.
🇫🇷 France one step away from civil war. Macron's police beat women and the elderly. Ignored by BBC & ITV news...Why? pic.twitter.com/iv8FDtoxmU— Frantruth (@frantruth) March 15, 2023
However, the Liberal MP Charles de Courson could introduce it and thus act as a bridge between the right and the left. The Liberals, acting as a neutral intermediary, could allow the right and the left to vote for their motion. It has also been announced that the Liberties, Independents, Overseas and Territories (LIOT Group) is expected to table a no-confidence motion at 2:00 p.m. today as well.
Although the different factions of parliament have remained divided up until now, Macron’s dubious move to ram through pension reform without a democratic vote could finally unify the opposition.
The stakes are extremely high for Macron. He has labeled his move the “mother of all reforms” and wants to make the reform one of the crowning achievements of his rule. Regardless of whether he stays in power or not, the idea of “democracy” in France has become a farce, and tensions are only expected to mount in the coming weeks and perhaps coming years as well.
Le Pen says she will reverse the pension reform if she is elected president. Experts say her party stands to gain the most from Macron’s move, and she has succeeded in expanding her party’s electorate from the working-class base to the middle-class.
“It is precisely the employees who are angry about Macron’s reform,” said pollster Frédéric Dabi to Germany’s Welt.
Le Pen is also considered the best placed to capitalize among the various right-leaning and conservative parties in France.
“Le Pen is successfully continuing the process of normalization that it began years ago and continues to reap the rewards,” says right-wing extremism expert Jean-Yves Camus. “There are no more taboos when it comes to Marine Le Pen’s victory. We now have to consider this as a serious hypothesis.”