There were rowdy scenes on Thursday at France's National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, after the government announced it is to use an article of the constitution which allows it to force its reform of the pension system through the chamber without a vote, a decisiontaken after it became unsure of gaining a majority of members in favour of the hotly contested draft bill.
Democracy belongs to neither the Left nor the Right, and when it is flouted by governments of either political side every democrat worthy of the name must simply say “no”, argues Mediapart editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel following the socialist government’s decision to force through parliament, without a vote, its controversial labour law reforms which, he writes in this op-ed, represent a social regression for every employee in France.
The French socialist government on Thursday survived a no-confidence vote in parliament called for by the conservative opposition after Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Tuesday controversially resorted to the use of a decree to force through a bill of liberalizing economic reforms. The reforms, drawn up by economy minister Emmanuel Macron, were hotly contested by the rebel Left within the Socialist Party and among its radical-left allies, leaving Valls uncertain of its adoption in a vote by parliament. During the debates, Valls once again spoke of the need for national unity behind his government in the “spirit of January 11th”, referring to the mass public turnout in marches held on January 11th in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris. “The spirit of January 11th is not a magical spirit, it belongs to us and we must maintain it,” Valls told the National Assembly on Thursday. But in this opinion article, Mediapart editor François Bonnet argues that using the 49-3 decree has symbolised the political authoritarianism of a weak government, one that has begun manipulating the ‘spirit of January 11th’ and which is bent on bulldozing through its domestic and foreign policies without proper consultation, notably employing the notion of a “war on terror” to stifle debate.