France’s prime minister survives no-confidence vote in parliament

A total of 146 lawmakers voted against Elisabeth Borne, far short of the 289 votes required to remove her.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has comfortably survived a motion of no confidence brought against her by a broad alliance of left-wing opponents.

An official vote count on Monday showed 146 lawmakers voted in support of the motion. The motion required an absolute majority of 289 votes to precipitate the government’s fall.

While the outcome was in little doubt, it was meant as a show of intent by the NUPES alliance – the largest bloc in opposition to Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Ensemble grouping – to make the president’s life difficult in parliament.

The NUPES alliance, also known as the New Ecological and Social Popular Union, is made up of 151 MPs. Five of them chose not to vote for the motion of no confidence, something that could be interpreted as a positive sign by Borne and her government.

“Ladies and gentlemen, today we could be working for the good of the French people,” Borne told parliament ahead of the vote.

“Instead, we are debating a no-confidence vote that is based on my alleged intentions, and that stands in the way of parliament’s work and therefore of the wish of the French people,” she said.

“This non-confidence vote is just political tactics … Let’s switch together to a culture of compromise,” she added.

After enjoying a comfortable majority in the lower house during his first mandate, newly-reelected Macron lost his absolute majority in parliament in June’s legislative elections and can no longer count on the chamber to rubber-stamp his reform agenda.

Instead, Macron and his government are faced with negotiating legislation on a bill-by-bill basis, taking a degree of control of the process out of his hands.

The no-confidence motion had been expected to fail after the conservative Les Republicains party and Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National said they would abstain.

“You are, Mrs Borne, a democratic anomaly … you have no legitimacy,” said Mathilde Panot, head of The France Unbowed group, the main component of the NUPES alliance, in the assembly.

“Those who won’t vote this no-confidence motion will be supporters of your policies,” she added before the vote.

Now that the no-confidence motion is out the way, the parliament will soon start discussing the 20bn euro ($20.1bn) inflation-relief package unveiled last week by the government.

Borne, 61, has made clear she intends to rely on the votes of opposition parties to pass legislation, with the right-wing Republicains party seen as crucial to her future.

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