French government survives no-confidence vote in labour reform battle

A no-confidence vote against the French government in parliament's lower house failed to find a majority Thursday, leaving the way open for disputed labour market reforms.

A total of 246 members of the lower house voted in support of no-confidence, short of the needed absolute majority of 288 votes.

Facing insufficient support for the reforms within his own ranks, Prime Minister Manuel Valls had fallen back on a constitutional quirk that allows for the adoption of legislation without a parliamentary vote, as long as the National Assembly fails to pass a vote of no-confidence.

The amendment that prompted the no-confidence vote includes measures aimed at easing regulations on working hours and changing the rules governing dismissal compensation, which the government says gives more rights to workers, such as support for young people.

Opposition to the bill, especially from unions and youth organizations, has been fierce. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in protest across France, and some small fringe groups have smashed property and scuffled with police.

Conservative faction leader Christian Jacob accused Valls of a "coup" against parliament. Valls denied the claim, saying the government left sufficient time for dialogue and compromise with parliament.

The Senate will next consider the bill. The labour reforms are considered by many to be one of the last big tests of the current Socialist government led by President Francois Hollande, who is fighting flagging approval ratings ahead of elections in 2017.

Last update: Thu, 12/05/2016 - 23:28

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