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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 12:53 PM

Counting Sheep: French Government Faces Second No Confidence Vote in Six Months

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Second No Confidence Vote in Six Months

In spite of the fact the Socialist party holds a majority of just 1 in the 577-seat lower house, French prime minister Manual Valls hopes to stabilize things with a Second No Confidence Vote in Six Months.

Mr Valls could see a narrowing of his majority compared with the vote when he was first appointed prime minister at the end of March after a big socialist loss in local elections. Then he won by a margin of 306 votes to 239 against, with 26 abstentions.

“Valls is politically and economically archaic. He is taking solutions from (Tony) Blair and (Gerhard) Schroeder that don’t work any more,” Pascal Cherki, a leftwinger who abstained in the previous confidence vote in April, told RMC radio.

But the government has support from within other leftwing parties. Mr Valls is also betting that socialist rebels would not want to cause the downfall of the government, as this would trigger legislative elections and almost certain defeat for the socialists.

A win for the government would also not erase uncertainty as it will be closely followed by the presentation of the 2015 budget to parliament next month, which economists are concerned could face a delay in approval amid political upheaval.

Opinion polls underscore the sense of leadership crisis in the eurozone’s second-largest economy. One last week showed 62 per cent of electors wanted Mr Hollande to step down before his term ends in 2017.
Counting Sheep

Given that Valls needs support from other left-wing parties to survive, he would not voluntarily call for the vote unless he was pretty certain of the outcome. Surprises can happen, but I suspect Valls counted the sheep properly.

Can the vote really inspire confidence in the government as Valls hopes?

Of course not. The fact that 62% of the electorate hopes Hollande will step down as president is not very inspiring, and it's certainly nothing a vote of confidence can fix.

That such a stunt is even needed shows weakness.

Assuming the government survives the vote, the only reason will be fear of Marine Le Pen's Front National Party picking up more seats at socialist expense in a new election.

For more on Front National please see Marine Le Pen Ahead of Hollande in France Presidential Poll; Le Pen Blames EU for Crisis in Ukraine 

Looking Ahead to 2017

The next scheduled national election is in 2017. Will Hollande even survive that long? Perhaps not if socialists decide to take their lumps sooner rather than later.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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