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Vote on the 2023 budget: what possible scenarios for the use of 49.3?

The time for overbidding and bluffing seems to be over.

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Vote on the 2023 budget: what possible scenarios for the use of 49.3?

The time for overbidding and bluffing seems to be over. The deputies begin, this Monday, October 10, the vote of the tumultuous budget 2023. The session must open at 4 p.m. with the intervention of the ministers and the various political groups. Then the Assembly will begin, probably on Tuesday, to tackle the more than 3,000 amendments tabled on this first part of the finance bill (PLF), which includes in particular a "tariff shield" of 45 billion euros against the explosion of energy prices.

Deemed too expensive for the right, "austerity" for the left, "submitted" to Brussels according to the RN: the oppositions have ruled out supporting this finance bill (PLF). And the "Bercy dialogues", organized in September by the government, to exchange with deputies of all stripes, have not changed anything.

In this unstable context, the question is no longer whether 49.3 will be used or not. But rather that of the best time to draw it for the first time (knowing that it could be drawn several times during the examination of the text). This tool available to the executive allows a text to be passed without a vote, unless a motion of censure is adopted. Several scenarios are emerging as to its use in the face of opposition. According to Agence France Presse, schedules have been worked out by the executive, all "very hypothetical", dependent "on the type of blockage".

This is the most likely scenario according to observers. It would be a question of carrying the discussions as far as possible in the hemicycle, and of drawing the 49.3 when the blockages begin to appear. “The 49.3 is an unlocking weapon, so we have to wait for the blocking”, pleads a deputy from the Horizon group, the party of Edouard Philippe, with Agence France Presse. It is necessary "that the debates can live" but if they are not of "quality" and if the compromises "cannot be materialized, at that time you act that there is no possible agreement and the government must take its responsibilities", explains a figure of the majority.

"The 49.3 will pose a problem for us if it is used to prevent the debate", warned the boss of the deputies LR Olivier Marleix, recalling that the government "must listen to the National Assembly". And no doubt he must retain in the final text proposals from the opposition as well as from his majority, in the spirit of the "new method" of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne. The 49.3 "stops the course of the debates" but allows not to stick only to "the copy of the government", also underlined the president of the Assembly Yaël Braun-Pivet and the leader of the deputies Renaissance Aurore Bank.

With the approach of the debates in the hemicycle, the idea made its way in some minds of the majority and relatives. Launching a 49.3 from the first days of debate is therefore not excluded. "I don't see the point of tiring oneself physically and morally by prolonging the torture. We only have blows to take," a member of the majority told AFP. "We must avoid putting the government in too much difficulty" which risks losing a certain number of votes, and in any case "it will be the bronca on the opposition side", whatever the way of bringing 49.3, notes one of its colleagues.

“It will be before the weekend”, predicts a key player in the majority at the microphone of Franceinfo on Monday. "Even if we let the proceedings unfold, in the end, we will not escape the accusation of brutality," he adds.

The hypothesis seems unlikely. It would be necessary that the debates advance without too many obstacles, and that the majority ties compromises, in particular with the deputies Les Républicains. Problem, the right-wing deputies alone tabled some 1,200 amendments out of 3,300 in total.

However, if compromises were found, the Assembly could complete the examination of the amendments tabled within the allotted time, ie until 19 October. But in the end, the government would still choose to take responsibility for passing this first part of the project without a vote - before another 49.3 on the expenditure part at the end of October, beginning of November. Because the executive could not count on enough support or abstentions among the oppositions, in particular among the LRs.

Thursday, the President (Renaissance) of the National Assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivet, asked the executive that "the text takes into account the debates in the Hemicycle", "not necessarily to the comma" but that this does not either "not just the government's copy either". Nevertheless, recourse to this tool of the fundamental law risks being the first of a long series: for the overall vote at first reading, at new reading, at final reading. Especially since the 49.3 is also approached on the upcoming pension reform, which is already causing a stir within the majority.

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