The French government are facing the prospect of a no-confidence vote in parliament after the Prime Minister Manuel Valls took the rare step of forcing through a key package of reforms without an MPs vote.
Because of the fear of not winning a majority for a set of reforms seen as vital to pep up the sluggish French economy, the Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls resorted to a little-used constitutional device to push the bill through parliament without a vote.
The Macron bill is now considered approved unless MPs back a motion of no-confidence to bring down the government, which analysts consider highly unlikely.
The no-confidence vote is slated to take place on Thursday.
The controversial move by Manuel Valls sparked a fierce political row with pretty much every politician from the left and right wading in to have their say.
The leader of the UMP party and former president Nicolas Sarkozy said there was no longer “a majority, nor a government”.
Jean-Luc Melenchon from the leftist Front de Gauche said it was a “total failure for Manuel Valls.”
“There’s no majority for a right-wing reform in this government. The people didn’t vote for this in 2012,” Melenchon said.
But the ex-banker turned Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, hit back rejecting accusations that the government’s move was a “denial of democracy”
“The government has taken responsibility for reforms that are important and positive for this country. All the articles of this reform were voted through by the majority.”
“If the left does nothing then it useless,” before accusing Sarkozy’s UMP party of failing to bring about change during its time in power.
But French politics professor Philippe Marliere says the use of “article 49-3” to force the bill through was a “clear sign of weakness” from the government.
Macron’s reforms, which include increasing the number of Sundays on which shops can stay open and liberalising certain sectors of the economy, have proved divisive with many protests and strikes.
A significant rump of leftist rebels from the ruling Socialist Party, who see the reforms as too pro-business, have vowed to vote against the bill or abstain, but they are unlikely to topple the government on the issue.
Manuel Valls has said that “I won’t take a risk with a bill like this which I consider essential for our economy,” as it soon became clear the vote was too close to call.
“With 10 percent unemployment, with the economic crisis that we have, we need to use everything we have at our disposal to boost competitiveness and make our firms more competitive internationally,” the prime minister said.