Marine Le Pen announced on Wednesday that she wanted to overthrow the government, but other groups will have to be convinced to vote for her to succeed.
By Thibaut Deleaz
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Un new pressure from deputies on the government. Marine Le Pen announced Wednesday, February 15, at the end of the day, the tabling of a motion of censure by the deputies of the National Rally, 48 hours from the end of the debates on the pension reform project. “It is clear that no vote will be possible on Article 7 [qui contient le report de l’âge légal à 64 ans, NDLR], and even less on the bill as a whole”, declared the group president, who wants to make it a “parliamentary referendum”. Different from the countless motions of censure tabled in the fall in response to Elisabeth Borne’s 49.3, does this new move have a chance of succeeding? Explanations.
What is a motion of censure?
It is the counter-power of the deputies vis-à-vis the executive. Provided for by article 49 of the Constitution, it allows the National Assembly to overthrow the government in two situations. The best known: the 49.3. When the Prime Minister activates this lever to pass a law in Parliament without a vote, she engages the responsibility of her government. The only way to prevent the adoption of the text is then to file this motion of censure within 24 hours of the announcement, then to get it voted on. For ten 49.3 used for the adoption of the budget in the fall, twelve motions of censure were tabled and none was adopted.
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Deputies can also table a spontaneous motion of censure, provided for in article 49.2. This is what the deputies of Nupes had done at the start of the legislature, in July, to protest against Elisabeth Borne who refused to submit to a vote of confidence. It is also in this context that the RN files its own on February 15.
Who can table a motion of censure?
The Constitution thus provides that “the National Assembly calls into question the responsibility of the government by voting for a motion of censure”, which must be tabled by at least 10% of the deputies, i.e. 58. In opposition, Les Républicains (61 elected), the National Rally (88) and La France insoumise (74), or even the other groups of the Nupes if they manage to agree in intergroup, are able to brandish this threat.
Once the motion of censure has been tabled, the Conference of Presidents sets the date of the ballot, after a new minimum period of forty-eight hours. That of the RN will thus be voted, at the earliest, Friday February 17 at the end of the day.
How can a motion of censure be passed?
To be adopted, the motion of censure must receive an absolute majority, ie 287 votes (4 seats are currently vacant). This is where everything gets complicated: not a single political group has an absolute majority in the hemicycle – not even the presidential camp. It would therefore be necessary that the oppositions come to an agreement. It is hard to imagine the Nupes voting it when it systematically refuses to bring its voices to the texts of the RN, even when they go in its direction. This does not necessarily thwart the strategy of the RN, which again sets a trap for the left: the party to the flame will thus be able to claim the title of the only credible opposition to the reform project and to the government.
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How many censure motions have succeeded?
So far, 59 spontaneous motions of no confidence have been tabled under the Ve Republic, and 65 in reaction to a 49.3, or 124 in all. That of the RN is the 125e. Only one succeeded. It was in October 1962: the deputies, opposed to the election of the President of the Republic by direct universal suffrage wanted by General de Gaulle, overthrew Prime Minister Georges Pompidou and his government.
The weapon of the motion of censure is to be handled with care, because it is a double-edged sword: the President of the Republic can choose to dissolve the Assembly. The French must then go to the polls again to elect their deputies.