On Monday, the government of French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne faced a new vote of no confidence, the 17th in less than a year. With 239 votes in favor, far less than the 289 needed, no vote was passed.
This, however, in no way reduced the anger of some of the opposition, which moved the motion on the grounds that the government was undermining parliamentary democracy by pressuring the president of the National Assembly to avoid a vote to repeal the pension reform. Socialist MP Valérie Rabaud called on MPs to vote for a vote of no confidence in order to “stop the defamation that the government is throwing at the National Assembly.”
The Communist deputy Hubert Wolfrank expressed concern about the “accumulation and confusion of powers” that “the French people wanted to end" by giving President Emmanuel Macron a relative rather than an absolute majority in the June 2022 elections. Jean-Louis Thériault of the center-right Republican party told the press that the proposal aims to “turn a page that no longer needs to be turned,” since the pension reform has already been adopted and entered into force. Consequently, “this vote of no confidence makes no sense,” Theriault said.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne told lawmakers that "this vote of no confidence [shows] that we do live in a parliamentary democracy” and that “the National Assembly always has the last word.
Borne said she feels that the French now see “those who reach out and those who fundamentally refuse to give their hand,” even though last April the president asked her to expand the majority - so far to no avail. That would have meant bringing more parties, especially right-wing Republicans, into the majority.
Nevertheless, she stressed that her government has been able to find “agreements and solutions on major issues,” such as security and the energy transition, and went on to list cases that are pending. The vote comes amid rumors of a government reshuffle that could occur in June or the first week of July. As the government seeks to consolidate and strengthen its leadership, an alliance between the presidential majority and the right-wing is one alternative route to reshuffle.
Recall that on June 6, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in French cities to protest against the controversial pension reform that the French government has already begun to implement, although this time the number of protesters was markedly lower.