French government wins confidence vote over economic reforms
France\’s Socialist government won a parliamentary vote of no confidence Thursday over a key package of reforms designed to energise the country\’s sluggish economy.
The conservative opposition proposed the motion after Prime Minister Manuel Valls used a rare constitutional device earlier this week to push through the reforms without MPs being given the chance to vote.
However, only 198 deputies voted in favour of the no confidence motion, far short of the 289 needed to bring down the government.
Valls resorted to forcing through the reforms because he feared that a sizeable group of left-wing rebels would block them in parliament.
However, these rebels made clear that, while they are opposed to the reforms, they would not go so far as to bring down the government over them.
The reforms have proved controversial from the start, sparking the rare sight of white-collar workers such as notaries and pharmacists marching through the streets demanding they be shelved.
One of the key planks of the package allows shops in certain tourist zones — notably the Champs Elysees in Paris — to open every Sunday of the year.
Another part of the plan involves opening previously closed sectors of the economy, such as the legal profession, to competition.
"We\’re not about to bring down the government," said Francois de Rugy, co-leader of the Green group in parliament, which opposes the reforms.
A similar exercise took place in February when Valls pushed an earlier draft of the reforms through parliament.
That time, only 234 mainly opposition MPs voted to bring down the government, far short of the number required.
Valls has said the legislation is "essential for our country, for our economy and we cannot allow ourselves to fail."
The package of reforms, known as the "Macron law" after the youthful banker-turned economy minister Emmanuel Macron, will return to the upper house Senate before being adopted definitively by the lower house National Assembly in July.
President Francois Hollande has vowed to have the laws on the statute book by French national day, July 14.