Pension reforms latest: Will the French government fall today?

Monday (March 20) could be a pivotal moment in French politics as the fallout continues after the controversial passing of its pension reforms

The future of the government in France could be in doubt as a vote of no confidence is set to take place, after PM Elisabeth Borne used article 49.3 to push through the pension reforms
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What is happening now?

Votes of no confidence in the French government - which if successful could see it fall or even force new elections - are set to take place on Monday (March 20).

They were launched last Thursday (March 16), almost immediately after article 49.3 was used to push through pension reforms.

Read more: Fury as French PM forces through pension reforms without a vote

This is standard procedure after the use of article 49.3, which allows the government to push through certain kinds of legislation without requiring a majority vote in parliament.

Will the no-confidence votes succeed?

To succeed, a vote of no confidence needs to get a majority in the French parliament, which is a minimum of 287 in a chamber of 573 MPs.
Analysis by FranceInfo suggested the votes of no confidence may lack 20-30 votes to successfully overturn the government’s decision.

A group of 20 left and right-wing MPs (the Libertés, indépendants, outre-mer et territoires (Liot) group), which has launched a vote of no confidence towards Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne is reported to not yet have enough signatures for the vote to succeed.

The votes may also be hampered by the fact that right-wing Les Républicains (LR) have formally said that they will not take part in any votes.

Party president, Eric Ciotti, said during an LR meeting: “We will not vote for any motion of no confidence. We do not want to add any more chaos.”

However, Mr Ciotti said that MPs from the party would be free to vote in other parties’ motions if they wished. MPs Maxime Minot, Pierre Cordier, and Fabien di Filippo said that they would vote.

Mr Cordier said: “The prime minister was very clumsy to say that the vote of no confidence would be ‘the vote for or against reform’. What an error!”

Liot MP of Marne, Charles de Courson, said on FranceInter today that he called the “25 to 26 Républicain MPs who said they were ready to vote…to vote on the Liot’s motion”.

What happens if the government loses a vote of no confidence?

Bertrand Pancher, head of the Liot group, said: “The results of this vote will allow us to rise above the height of this deep political crisis.”

There are several possible outcomes.

  • The president dismisses Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne and replaces her
  • The president dismisses the PM and shuffles the cabinet
  • The president dissolves parliament completely, and legislative elections are called.

Dissolving parliament would automatically trigger new legislative elections, which must take place within 20-40 days.

This could be a risky move for the government, as there is no guarantee that it will get a majority in parliament in the event of a new vote.

Former Socialist MP David Habib said that the votes of no confidence could be risky. He said: "I always said that I would not vote for it. If you censure this government, you could provoke legislative elections, and you’ll find yourself with [far-right] Marine Le Pen in power.”

Read also

Strikes? New government? What’s next amid France’s pensions anger?

What is article 49.3 and could it help pass France’s pension reforms?