French government to force through economic reforms

16th June 2015, Comments 0 comments

France's socialist government was to force a package of key economic reforms through parliament Tuesday as a left-wing group of rebel MPs threatened to torpedo its passage into law.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls is set to resort to a little-used constitutional device to push through the reforms without a vote.

This will spark a motion of no confidence in the government which could in theory bring it down, but analysts say it has little or no chance of being passed.

The package of laws is the brainchild of Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, a former banker, and the government sees it as vital to pep up the moribund economy, the second biggest in the eurozone.

The proposed legislation aims to liberalise certain sections of the notoriously highly protected French economy, including allowing shops to open more frequently on Sunday.

But the proposals have proved highly divisive from the beginning and a group of between 30 and 40 MPs on the left flank of the Socialist Party has vowed to vote against the package of laws, seeing it as too right-wing.

Sources close to Valls said he wanted to push through the laws as quickly as possible so that "the French people feel them as soon as possible in their daily lives."

The opposition right-wing party led by former president Nicolas Sarkozy has already said it will put down a motion of no-confidence and attacked what it called "general panic in the government".

One of the top rebels in the Socialist Party, Benoit Hamon, said there was "no majority for this social and economic policy", describing it as a "demand from Brussels".

However, the leader of the powerful MEDEF business lobby, Pierre Gattaz, welcomed the government's decision to push it through without a vote.

"I support this... if it allows us to go in the right direction," Gattaz told reporters.

The package of reforms, known as the "Macron law" after the minister, will return to the upper house Senate before being adopted definitively by the lower house National Assembly at the end of July.


© 2015 AFP

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