French government faces social security budget revolt
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More than 30 Socialist MPs refused to vote for the French social security budget in a vote in the National Assembly on Tuesday. The revolt adds to the problems of a government under fire for the weekend death of a demonstrator as well as its economic policies.
The lower house of the French parliament approved the 2015 social security budget by a majority of 25 votes.
Thirty-four MPs from the ruling Socialist Party abstained, as did 14 members of the Green party, EELV.
Five fewer Socialists abstained than during a previous vote but their ranks were swelled by two ministers who left the government after criticising the government’s austerity policies – Benoît Hamon and Aurélie Filipetti.
The right-wing opposition and the hard-left Left Front voted against.
The right and some of the left object to cuts in family allowances to high-income families, arguing that puts an end to the principle of the universal right to social security.
But left-wing dissidents concentrated their fire on cuts in employers’ social security contributions, which are supposed to boost employment but are not conditional on companies creating jobs.
The bill will be put before the Senate on 10 November.
Dissent in the ruling party over economic policy is just one of the problems face by Prime Minister Manuel Valls’s government.
Although the European Commission accepted France’s 2015 budget on Wednesday morning, the government recently announced that it will not be on target to reduce the budget deficit.
And the death of an anti-dam protester at the weekend has deepened the rift with the ecologists and the hard left and returned the media spotlight to environmental protests over a planned airport near Nantes in the west of the country and a giant fairy farm near Amiens in the north.
And there are rumours of tension between Valls and President François Hollande, who is said to be looking nervously over his shoulder at his ambitions prime minister.
Valls on Wednesday insisted that his relations with his boss are based on mutual confidence and that he respected Hollande and the presidency as an institution.