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Fewer than half of MPs back Valls

The prime minister has won only a relative majority in a vote of confidence, which may result in slowing up new bills

THE ‘VALLS 2’ government has been left in an uncertain position after winning only a relative majority in a vote of confidence.

After the recent cabinet revolt which led to a new government being formed, and with continuing high unemployment and stagnant economic growth, Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the MPs’ vote in a bid to bolster support for his policies.

This is his second such vote as he called on MPs to back him after his first speech outlining his policies on April 8.

The result can only be called a partial success – 269 MPs voted in favour of the government, while 244 voted against, but with 53 MPs abstaining, including 31 members of his own Parti Socialiste, Valls no longer has the absolute majority he had after the first vote five months ago.

Then, 306 MPs voted in favour of the ‘Valls 1’ government. In the latest vote 289 was needed for an absolute majority.

Those abstaining were mainly members of the majority (Socialists, Greens and Radicals), plus two Communists. If “no” votes and abstainers are added, less than half of the MPs now actively support the government’s policies.

Some commentators have called into question Valls’ ability to govern with this reduced support, however France Info noted that the abstainers would not be expected to support the Opposition – what is more likely is they could slow down debates, for example by adding numerous amendments.

Interviewed on TF1 Mr Valls played down the situation, saying: “There is a clear majority of those who voted for confidence. Above all, there is no alternative majority.”

Before yesterday’s vote Mr Valls outlined the way forward for his government, saying he would go further with lower income tax for a further six million households next year. He also announced a one-off €40 bonus for pensioners who receive less than €1,200 a month. “In refusing austerity, we are protecting the most vulnerable,” he said.

Mr Valls also brusquely responded to business leaders’ group Medef by rejecting its call for an end to the 35-hour working week, and warning it against “provocation” and “going over the top”. It had also called for the minimum wage to be scrapped along with two bank holidays.

“No one must take the risk of weakening the vital dialogue between business owners and unions that has been the hallmark of this presidency,” he said.

Photo: Jackolan1/ Wkimedia Commons

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