French PM Valls faces Socialist revolt over 50-billion-euro cuts plan

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (L) with President François Hollande this week
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (L) with President François Hollande this week Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

New French Prime Minister Manuel Valls faces a revolt from the left of his Socialist Party over his plan to make 50 billion-euros-worth of spending cuts. Eleven MPs have written an open letter to Valls calling on him to cap savings at 35 billion euros.


The raft of cuts and benefit freezes are designed to fund President Francois Hollande's Responsibility Pact and help meet European Union demands to rein in the deficit.

But it has caused an uproar on the left of the Socialist Party with about 100 of the parliamentary group's 195 members apparently opposed to the government's apparent rightward drift.

In a letter released to the press on Thursday, the MPs said that public services would suffer if the cuts exceded 35 billion euros.

"With more than 35 billion we believe that retreats in social policy and damage to public services are inevitable," the letters says.

Valls and his ministers have dismissed claims that his plan is an austerity package.

"We're here to finance major commitments," French government spokesperson Stéphane Le Foll said on Thursday. "We are here to ensure recovery, reinforced with support for business through the Responsibility Pact. But it's also for growth and employment."

Le Foll promised that the Socialsit parliamentary group will be consulted but party officials are insisting that the party's MPs back the government when the plan is put to a consultative vote in parliament.

One of Valls's decisions was to prolong a four-year freeze of public-sector pay for a further year.

Unions are organising demonstrations against the measure on 15 May.

Leaders met Valls on Thursday and described him as "inflexible" on the plan.

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