Macron’s government decides to pass budget without vote

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron’s government said Wednesday it would use a special constitutional power to force the bill for next year’s budget through the National Assembly without a vote.

Opposition lawmakers could call a no-confidence vote to protest the move, which some have denounced as undemocratic.

The government’s announcement was expected. Macron’s centrist alliance lost its parliamentary majority in June, making it much more difficult for his government to get laws passed the conventional way in the lower house of parliament.

Faced with multiple budget amendments from the opposition, government officials had warned they were ready to invoke the French Constitution’s Article 49.3, which allows the prime minister to bypass parliament in some situations, including votes on budget bills.

If the prime minister is successful, the budget bill would go to the Senate.

A no-confidence vote is unlikely to pass despite opposition to the government’s move because it would need the approval of at least 289 lawmakers, or half the seats in the lower house of France’s Parliament. If some groups of lawmakers abstain while Macron’s allies vote no, the threshold cannot be reached.

Despite losing its majority, Macron’s centrist alliance still has the most National Assembly seats, with 250. A leftist coalition, the Nupes, is the largest opposition force, with 151 seats.

In July, lawmakers failed to pass a no-confidence motion requested by the Nupes to symbolically mark its opposition to Macron’s policies. Only 146 lawmakers approved the motion, far short of the 289 needed.

Article 49.3 has been used 87 times since 1958. Under Macron, it was used once before, in 2020 during his first term, to push though pension changes.

France’s proposed budge, presented last month in a Cabinet meeting, is based on predicted growth of 1% next year, down from an estimated 2.7% this year.

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