The extreme right and the radical French left will vote next Monday on the same motion of no confidence against the Government, presented by the centrist deputy Charles de Courson. This unusual transversal initiative says a lot about the serious political moment that the country is experiencing after the traumatic approval, by decree, of the unpopular pension reform.
De Courson, the deputy who has served the longest in the National Assembly, belongs to a heterogeneous group of 20 parliamentarians, called Liberties, Independents, Overseas and Territories (LIOT), in which various center-right and center-left sensibilities coexist, as well as Breton autonomists and Corsicans. The deputies of the New Ecologist and Social Popular Union (Nupes), which brings together La Francia Insumisa (LFI, radical left), socialists, ecologists and communists, will adhere to his motion of censure. The National Regroupment (RN, extreme right) will also vote for it, led by Marine Le Pen, despite having presented a second motion of censure of its own.
The big question is how many deputies from Los Republicanos (LR, traditional right) will support this motion, disobeying their leader, Éric Ciotti, who promised "not to add chaos to chaos" and warned that overthrowing the Government now would be a "fatal blow" to French democracy. But LR has been, for years, a divided and confused party, therefore difficult to discipline. All in all, it is highly unlikely that the motion will reach enough votes to overthrow the Executive. That would open up an even bigger crisis and could lead to the dissolution of the Assembly and the calling of new elections.
Political pressure and discontent on the street form a dangerous vise for Emmanuel Macron. The President of the Republic is a man who advances on the coals, weak and the target of popular rage. He is showing that he is incapable of building consensus around his projects, although it is also true that his rivals do not make it easy for him and prioritize partisan interests over reason of State. Approving the pension reform by decree wanted to be a coup of authority. It was actually a demonstration of weakness and helplessness.
According to a first survey commissioned by the RTL chain, 82% of the French think that carrying out the pension reform without putting it to a vote was a mistake, an opinion shared by many analysts.
This unstable and tense situation is likely to continue, conditioning the more than four years that Macron has left at the Elysee. It will be very difficult for other plans to advance, such as the new immigration law or an institutional reform. The head of state will always have the letter to dissolve the Assembly, despite the fact that nothing guarantees a more favorable distribution of forces. Another intermediate solution would be to proceed with a change of government, given that some of the current ministers have been burned in the fight for pensions. The head of the premier herself, Elisabeth Borne, could roll.
The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, asked the prefects to take extreme measures to ensure public order, protect official buildings and guarantee the physical integrity of parliamentarians and state representatives. This alert occurs before the outbreak of social anger against government inflexibility. In these circumstances and in view of the security risk they are running, several ministers announced that they were canceling planned trips. His presence at public events was a headache for bodyguards.
After a night of acts of violence and riots in several cities, which resulted in more than 300 arrests, yesterday morning there were again spontaneous demonstrations and roadblocks in Paris, Rennes, Bordeaux, Rouen, Brest and other cities. The capital's peripheral highway was temporarily cut off at various points. In the afternoon people gathered again in the Place de la Concorde, in Paris, in the Kleber square in Strasbourg, and in central places in Bordeaux, Pau, Sarcelles, Le Mans and other smaller towns. One of the characteristics of the mobilization against the delay in the retirement age is that peripheral France and small and medium-sized cities have played a leading role. In Paris, hooded radical elements set up a barricade with metal fences and ended up facing off with riot police when they dispersed them.
The unions plan to continue the mobilizations and strikes in key sectors such as refineries, liquefied gas facilities and railways. The Directorate General of Aviation asked to cancel 30% of the flights scheduled at the Paris-Orly airport on Monday and 20% at the Marseille airport. A new day of strike and nationwide protest marches are called for next Thursday.
The press is unanimous in considering that Macron's decision to approve the pension reform using an exceptional constitutional instrument, article 49.3, was reckless. According to Le Monde, the president "has played with fire." For Libération, Macron is to blame for fueling the conflict because he "has broken all the eggs he had in the fridge but he has not managed to make an omelette" and makes clear his "impotence". Le Figaro highlighted on the front page that the Government is "weakened and isolated". L'Opinion confirmed "a victory with a taste of defeat", a "weakened Macron" and "threatened Borne". Le Parisien evoked the government's fear of a return to the yellow vest movement, which plunged the country, for months, in 2018 and 2019, into a major public order crisis.
In addition to ordering more police surveillance, Darmanin made the decision to legally force Paris garbage collectors to return to work to collect the more than 10,000 tons of waste accumulated in the capital by the strike. It is not easy, however, to implement the measure because the mayoress of Paris herself, the socialist Anne Hidalgo, is in solidarity with the strikers.