Opposition to French President Emmanuel Macron has failed in its bid to quash the unpopular pension reform and bring down the government.
The motion with the best chance of success, sponsored by a small group of centrists and regionalists and supported by the left and the extreme right, obtained 278 votes and fell to nine of the 287 absolute majority in the National Assembly.
The other, presented by the far-right National Regrouping party, is due for a vote later but is still less likely to succeed.
The failure of the no-confidence motions will mean that, for now, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne remains in office and that the law that will increase the retirement age from 62 to 64 has cleared the last parliamentary hurdle.
The opposition, after an electric debate in the National Assembly, has not added enough votes against the reform, which would have fallen automatically if the motion was won.
But it is very close, more than expected.
He has other ways to torpedo the law: raise appeals before the Constitutional Council, which could happen as of this Tuesday.
And collect, within a period of nine months, the 4.87 million signatures necessary to force the call for a referendum, a more legally and politically complex option.
That the result was so close in the first motion means that a good part of the deputies of Los Republicanos (LR), the traditional right-wing party, added their votes to the left, the extreme right and the regionalists and centrists.
Resignation!", chanted, after announcing the result, the deputies of La Francia Insumisa (LFI), the first party of the left-wing coalition that integrates socialists, environmentalists and communists.
The left had already announced that it would not add its votes to the National Regrouping motion.
The Macronista deputies left the chamber with serious countenances, despite the numerical victory.
The result is no cause for celebration for Macron, immovable in office until the end of his second and final term, in 2027, but from now on in danger of becoming a lame duck.
Yes, he has taken a decisive step to enact the
mother of all reforms
, a campaign promise that landed him re-election a year ago, and has shown that his transformative impetus has not dried up.
A country against
But the price is high.
The president has turned the country against: 70% of French reject the reform.
He has ignored the unions during the process of discussing the law.
By resorting, last week, to article 49.3 to impose it without going through a parliamentary vote, he has aggravated the abyss that separates him from public opinion and has fueled accusations of authoritarianism, even though the procedure is democratic and constitutional.
"This decision [the application of 49.3] is the apogee of a denial of democracy unacceptable in its constancy and its contempt for our institutions and our social bodies," says the text of the motion that obtained the most votes.
Le Pen's text, which will be voted on at around 8:00 p.m. on Monday, states: "While the French demonstrate massively in opposition to this reform, the national representation has not been able to vote on this text at any time, which, despite the legality of the process, is an attack on democratic principles”.
Macron, silent in recent weeks, could speak with a speech to the nation in the coming days.
On Sunday, on the eve of the vote, he expressed in a message to the presidents of the Assembly and the Senate his wish that "the text on pensions can go all the way in its democratic journey, respecting us all," according to the Elysee Palace. .
Laurent Berger, general secretary of the moderate CFDT union, the first in the country, asked the president to withdraw the law.
The most immediate unknown is what will happen to Prime Minister Borne, a technocrat attached to the social democratic wing of macronism and in office since last May.
In France, the prime minister is called the president's fuse, the first to blow when things go wrong.
Macron could relieve her and change the government to mark the beginning of a new stage.
But it is not certain that he will do it right away.
And, in any case, he will continue to have the same problem that he has had with the pension reform: Macron's supporters, although they form the first group in the National Assembly, do not have a majority.
Unless they formalize an agreement with the moderate right, or a part of it, they will run into the same problem again: the lack of votes to approve any major initiative.
Meanwhile, the president faces a country in growing tension.
Since Borne presented the bill in January, there have already been eight days of massive demonstrations called by the unions.
Thursday will be next.
Strikes in sectors such as refineries or transportation continue this week.
The indignation against the reform, which a majority of French consider unfair, redoubled last Thursday when the president decided to activate article 49.3.
Since that day, every night there have been altercations between protesters and the police in Paris and other cities, and scenes have been experienced (fires, assaults on official buildings or parliamentary offices).
There is a risk of a radicalization of the social movement, which until last week was largely peaceful.
The ghost of the
, the spontaneous and sometimes violent revolt of 2018 and 2019, once again roams France.
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