French government survives no-confidence vote over labor reform row | News | DW | 12.05.2016
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French government survives no-confidence vote over labor reform row

France's Socialist government has withstood a no-confidence vote from opposition conservatives over a controversial labor bill. Earlier, violence broke out between police and protesters throughout several French cities.

Embattled French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and his Socialist government will remain in power after a failed no-confidence vote on Thursday. The opposition called the vote over the government's decision to push a hotly contested labor reform bill through parliament by decree.

Only 246 lawmakers voted in favor of the motion, according to an official vote tally, coming up short of the 288 votes needed to secure an absolute majority in the lower house of parliament.

The contested bill will now be debated at the Senate. Strikes and protests called for by unions against the reforms have already been scheduled for next week.

Protestors demonstrate in Marseille, southern France

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across France on Thursday to rally against the reforms

Protest clashes

Violence broke out between protesters and police on the edges of larger demonstrations across France earlier on Thursday, reported authorities.

Although the anti-labor reform demonstrations were largely peaceful, police fired tear gas at more rowdy protesters in Paris, Marseille and Nantes. French authorities estimated that 12,000 people took to the streets of Paris on Thursday, while the CGT union said around 50,000 people attended the rally.

Some of the Paris demonstrators were injured by masked youths who attacked journalists and protesters alike, AFP news agency journalists on the scene reported. Numerous people were injured and at least two sustained head injuries.

According to authorities, protesters in Paris also attacked police officers with Molotov Cocktails. Some protesters entered the grounds of the military museum Les Invalides, but were quickly subdued by soldiers.

A demonstrator wears a sticker on her mouth reading 49-3, refering the article 49-3 of the Constitution to force the bill through Parliament without a vote during a protest against Labor Law, in Paris, France

Many protesters also decried Hollande's use of Article 49-3 to push the bill through without a vote in Parliament

Labor law heightens tensions

Tensions in France have been running particularly high over the labor reforms bill, which would extend working hours and loosen up France's rigid job market.

President Francois Hollande said the bill "is designed for employees and for business leaders. I don't want to oppose them."

The French government's decision to use special powers under Article 49-3 of the Constitution to push through hotly contested labor reforms led the country's conservative opposition to file a censure motion.

Although the vote ultimately failed, it did highlight the weakness and unpopularity of the Socialist government.

The head of the opposition conservatives in the lower house of parliament criticized the proposed bill ahead of Thursday's vote, saying it didn't go far enough to open up the country's economy.

Christian Jacob called the bill "empty" and described the Socialist government's decision to use 49-3 to bypass a parliamentary vote as "appalling."

rs/kms (AP, AFP, dpa)

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