The opposition to the French president, Emmanuel Macron, has presented this Friday two motions of no confidence in the National Assembly with the intention of stopping the unpopular pension reform and bringing down the government of the prime minister, Élisabeth Borne. The motion most likely to succeed is that of the small group of regionalists and centrists LIOT (French acronym for Liberties, Independents, Overseas and Territories). Both the extreme right of Marine Le Pen and the coalition of the left, the main opposition blocs, are ready to support her. They would lack about 30 votes from Los Republicanos (LR), the historical party of the moderate right and fourth force in the chamber. It is not certain that they will succeed.

As the vote was being prepared, which was due to take place on Monday, spontaneous demonstrations and roadblocks broke out across France. For the second consecutive night, hundreds of people have gathered in the central Place de la Concorde in Paris, in front of the National Assembly. Police fired tear gas and arrested 38 people. The protests on Thursday night, after the adoption of the law by express means and without a vote, have already degenerated into altercations and barricades in several cities. Law enforcement officers arrested 310 people across the country. The unions have called for next Thursday the ninth day of national mobilization since the Government presented the bill in January.

The motions of censure are the response to Macron’s decision to impose the pension reform by resorting to article 49.3 of the Constitution. The article allows the Government to end parliamentary debates and adopt a legislative text without putting it to a vote. The opposition can stop the law by presenting and winning a motion of no confidence. In this case, the Prime Minister and the Government fall, and the law is considered rejected. Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) presented its own motion of no confidence, but it is less likely to succeed than LIOT’s, because the majority of deputies will refuse to support a far-right text.

Voting, Sunday or Monday

The opposition had 24 hours, after the adoption of the legislative text on Thursday, to present the motion of censure. The requirement was that it had the signature of 58 deputies. Thereafter, the vote is set within 48 hours. It could be from Sunday afternoon or, more likely, Monday morning.

If the motion of no confidence obtains a majority of votes, the Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne, must resign along with her Government. President Macron will then have two options. The first is to appoint a new prime minister and a new government. He doesn’t need a vote of confidence, but he can ask for one. The other option is to dissolve the National Assembly and call early legislative elections, which would lead to a new composition of the chamber, perhaps a new majority and a new government.

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A group of protesters against Macron’s pension reform, in the Place de la Concorde in Paris, this Friday.GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT (AFP)

Macron has privately indicated that he favors the second option: if a vote of no confidence succeeds, he will dissolve the chamber and call legislative elections. In the current National Assembly, elected in June 2022, the three parties that support the centrist Macron form the first bloc, with 250 deputies. The left-wing coalition, controlled by Eurosceptic anti-capitalist Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France Insumisa (LFI), has 149, of which 74 are from LFI. Le Pen’s RN, 88. LIOT, 20. The Republicans, 61.

The Republicans hold the key. Four deputies from this party have already said they will vote in favor of the motion. Added to the left, RN, LIOT and three deputies from the mixed group, they reach 264 seats. There would be about 23 missing and the only fishing ground where they can get them is LR. The efforts of each other, this weekend, will focus on convincing the doubters of this match.

Although LR leaders have spoken in favor of the reform and against the vote of no confidence, their ability to control their troops is in doubt, as was demonstrated on Thursday. The moderate right, historically, has been in favor of the most controversial measure of the pension law: the increase from 62 to 64 years of retirement age. However, on Thursday these leaders were unable to assure Macron that his group would support the measure. The numbers did not come out for the president, or they were so tight – and the result uncertain – that he preferred not to risk it. Hence, he renounced approving it with votes and opted for the expedited route, applying 49.3.

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Deborah Acker

I write epic fantasy; self-published via KDP. Devoted dog mom to my 10 yr old GSD, Shadow! DM not a priority; slow response at best #amwriting #author.

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