No-confidence vote embodies divided French parliament

·2 min read

PARIS (AP) — French lawmakers on Monday were debating a no-confidence motion that was requested by a leftist coalition to symbolically mark their opposition to the government and President Emmanuel Macron's economic policies.

The leftist coalition, known as Nupes, formally requested a no-confidence motion in the wake of Prime Minister Elizabeth Borne's first major speech to the National Assembly after the recent parliamentary election.

The motion is unlikely to be adopted by lawmakers since a no-confidence vote must get approval from more than half the seats — at least 289 lawmakers — to be valid. That means that if many opposition lawmakers abstain, while Macron’s alliance members vote against, the threshold can't be reached.

While many lawmakers are angry at Macron’s policies, some opposition parties are also against the leftists and won't join them in the vote.

Nupes is the largest opposition force in the lower house of parliament, with 147 seats. Macron’s centrist alliance lost its parliamentary majority in last month’s election but still has the most seats, at 250.

The conservative Republican party, which holds 62 seats, has said they wouldn’t take part in the vote.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, runner-up in the last French presidential election, denounced the vote as a political move that “wants to make the Fifth Republic crumble,” speaking on RTL radio last week.

Speaking Sunday on French broadcaster BFM, Le Pen didn't say whether her lawmakers would support a no-confidence vote, but said that her National Rally party, the largest opposition party on the right with 89 seats, will use “all available power we have in the parliament against the government”.

A no-confidence vote only succeeded once in the history of the French Republic, in 1962.

The political stakes are elsewhere. The no-confidence vote is used by the Nupes as a symbolic way to claim political space as the parliament's leading opposition group.

Normally, a new government in France requests a vote of confidence from the parliament to give more legitimacy to their agenda. But after the governing party lost its majority, Borne didn't take that risk, breaking a long-time tradition.

Jade Le Deley, The Associated Press

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