Hard left refuses to vote for French Socialist government's programme

Reuters/Piotr Snuss

Hard-left MPs will not give France’s new Socialist government a vote of confidence when Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault presents his programme on Tuesday, according to Communist National Assembly member Marie-George Buffet. But the Greens will back Ayrault, with the exception of veteran politicians Noël Mamère.


The 10 MPs from Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Left Front will abstain when it comes to the vote to accept Ayrault’s speech because of the austerity policy they say will be needed to reach the Socialists’ target of reducing the budget deficit to 4.5 per cent of GDP in 2012 and 3.0 per cent in 2013, Buffet told France 2 television ahead of the vote.

Although Ayrault has pledged that “the wealthiest taxpayers and the largest companies will make the biggest contribution to the collective effort”, public spending is set to be cut despite opposition by unions and the hard left.

Monday’s national audit found that the government must save six to 10 billion euros to reach its targets.

The Left Front, which has formed a parliamentary group with five overseas territories deputies, has pledged not to bring the government down. But that consideration is entirely theoretical today since, with 577 seats, the Socialists and their allies in the government have an absolute majority in the lower house.

The most important of those allies, the Green party (EELV), which has two ministers in the cabinet, is set to vote for the government on Tuesday.

Parliamentary elections 2012

But veteran Green MP Noël Mamère says that he will abstain unless the government drops a plan to build a fourth-generation nuclear reactor that will use recycled uranium for 650 million euros.

Mamère told France France Info radio that his party had taken "a number of knocks that I consider bad signals" since the left won the election, citing the removal of Nicole Bricq from the ecology ministry after she blocked Shell's operations in French Guiana as one.

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP predicted higher taxes and lower wages for civil servants ahead of the vote, claiming that President François Hollande made promises he will not be able to keep during this year’s election campaign.

As Ayrault reads his speech in the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, the government's number two, Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius, will read the same text to the upper house, the Senate.

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