Neo-liberal Macron government in France pushes 2023 budget without parliamentary vote 

The austerity-ridden budget was approved without a vote on after the government involved a controversial provision of the constitution. Earlier, left-wing MPs had passed several amendments to the government’s proposals

October 20, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
French Budget 2023
Emmanuel Macron. (Photo: via L’ Insoumission)

Progressive sections in France, including the left, have denounced the undemocratic passing of the 2023 budget by the Emmanuel Macron government. The austerity-ridden budget was passed in the parliament without a vote on Wednesday, October 19. MPs from the New Ecologic and Social Peoples Union (NUPES) coalition slammed the government for pushing through the budget without incorporating the amendments that were passed earlier in the lower house of parliament. 

Fearing that the majority would vote against the budget, the minority government invoked the controversial article 49.3 of the French constitution which allows a law to be passed without voting. Following this undemocratic move, MPs from the NUPES accused the government of authoritarianism and denounced article 49.3 as a permanent coup against democracy. They also submitted a motion of no-confidence against the government. 

The French government led by Macron invoked article 49.3 earlier as well, on March 3, 2020, to bypass the parliament and approve the first part of its controversial pension reforms.

According to reports, the government’s budget proposals include tax cuts to companies, slashing the number of beneficiaries of school grants, cuts in funds for local authorities, freezing of index points and thereby blocking the upgradation of salaries, pensions and social benefits at par with inflation, and scanty allocation for health spending that is far below inflation. While the parliament was debating the 2023 budget since September, left-wing sections in the opposition managed to pass several amendments to many of the austerity-driven proposals, against the direction of the government which does not have an absolute majority in the lower house. 

Regarding this, leftist party La France Insoumise (LFI) stated, “the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire does not retain in the budget an amendment introducing a tax on super-dividends by corporates, despite its approval by the lower house with 227 votes in favor and only 88 against.” ‘Our Public Service Collective’ has denounced the budget as the second most austerity driven for public services over the last 20 years.

MP André Chassaigne from the French Communist Party (PCF) and the NUPES alleged on Wednesday that “For eight days, the government and the majority have treated us like doormats! They promised to go through our amendments and they are doing just the opposite! This is a disgrace to our democracy!”

 Théo Kececioglu, in-charge of international affairs for the Young Communists Movement of France (MJCF), told Peoples Dispatch on October 20, “The French government has just decided to force through by having the law on the nation’s budget adopted without a vote. By using the constitution in this way, the executive cancels the amendments aimed at wealth sharing and imposes a neoliberal policy. It is a question of always subsidizing large companies without counter-parties and of reducing social expenditure. The government promised us a new method, we were right not to believe it for a single second.”

Working class sections across France have expressed outrage at the undemocratic imposition of the austerity-ridden budget even as the county is reeling under an acute fuel shortage and soaring cost of living crisis. Unions have already hit the streets demanding an increase in salaries and restoration of purchasing power to combat inflation. On Thursday, French trade unions including the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), organized a general strike across the country to protest the crisis. Earlier, on October 16, trade unions and other popular sections organized a massive protest demonstration in Paris demanding action from the government. Over 100,000 people participated in the protest. Workers of refineries and outlets of private oil giants like Total Energy are also continuing strikes and protests demanding decent wages.