The 49.3 was expected. It won't be long. Wednesday evening, just three days after the resumption of debates in the National Assembly, Élisabeth Borne appeared at the podium of the Palais Bourbon to draw, for the very first time in the parliamentary session, the constitutional weapon so feared by the oppositions. While discussions on the public finance programming law had started a little earlier in the evening, the Prime Minister appeared in the Chamber shortly before the end of the session, around 11:55 p.m.
Under the whistles of Nupes, the head of government spoke very briefly, estimating that “the discussion on this text” had “begun fourteen months ago”, during the first reading. “As always, we tried to find points of agreement with the opposition. I note that beyond the presidential majority, no group wishes to vote for this essential text,” she continued. Applauded by the deputies of the presidential camp, and even - not without irony - by some of the Nupes who aped their colleagues, the head of government concluded with these words: "We cannot take the slightest risk, so I urge the responsibility of my government.”
The collective reaction of Nupes is immediate. A few minutes later, the various group presidents of the left alliance summoned the press to the Salle des Quatre Colonnes and announced that they were submitting a motion of censure. “The Prime Minister is opening her season of 49.3, we are opening our season of popular motions of censure,” criticized the boss of the Insoumis group, Mathilde Panot. “The government is 49.3-dependent, totally addicted to the violence committed in Parliament,” criticized Boris Vallaud, president of the socialist group. Their motion of censure, which, barring any surprises, has no chance of being adopted, will be debated on Friday evening.
Élisabeth Borne's decision was predictable. Before entering into the examination of the budget and the Social Security financing bill (PLF and PLFSS), which will animate the Hemicycle until Christmas, the government was keen to have this text adopted, which defines France's budgetary trajectory for the coming years. Last December, it was rejected at first reading in the National Assembly, depriving the country of 11 billion euros in European credits. Before being adopted in the Senate. This September, the government absolutely wanted this bill to be adopted, in order to receive the 19 billion (total over 2023 and 2024) in funds. But also, with the aim of reassuring the financial markets and not risking a downgrade of France's rating, synonymous with a possible explosion in public interest rates.
Thus, for several weeks, the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, has been pleading with parliamentarians for this text, which is not considered a budgetary law, to be voted on by the oppositions. But given the reluctance of a majority of Republican elected officials and the desire of the National Rally group to abstain - a "trap", considered the Macronist general staff -, the executive preferred to bring out the 49.3 card .
The President of the Republic had also convened an extraordinary session in order not to “waste gratuitously” his only cartridge 49.3 per ordinary session for this text with low political intensity. The first in a long series, which will continue throughout the fall on all budgetary texts. “There will probably be around ten 49.3s depending on the progress of the debates. (…) My responsibility as Minister of Public Accounts is to provide the country with a budget before the end of the year,” Thomas Cazenave warned on Thursday on LCI.
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Since June 2022 and the results of the legislative elections, the government only has a relative majority in the National Assembly. A situation which forced him to draw 49.3 eleven times during the first year of the legislature, including once on the highly contested pension reform. A scenario that oppositions expect to see again many times between now and the end of the year. And that they do not fail to denounce.
In the National Assembly, Wednesday evening, they largely did so, in a parliamentary enclosure that was nevertheless calmer than usual. First, during the motion for prior rejection, defended by the socialist Valérie Rabault, and largely rejected. Then, through the different speeches, during the general discussion. “Minorities therefore authoritarian”, notably denounced the Insoumise Marianne Maximi. A “democratic injury”, for the communist Nicolas Sansu, who believes that starting the parliamentary session like this “is irresponsible and bodes ill for the future”. Before the RN vice-president of the Assembly, Sébastien Chenu, interrupted the session. And that Yaël Braun-Pivet does not take over from the perch, for Élisabeth Borne to speak. Which therefore officially launches the season of 49.3… and motions of censure.