This week, President Francois Hollande of France invoked a special constitutional provision known as Rule 49.3 in an attempt to force the passage of an economic reform package favored by many French businesses. Torchin said that the measure will become law automatically in a designated period of time unless French opposition parties in the National Assembly (the legislative equivalent of a French Congress or Parliament) can win a “no confidence” vote ousting the Socialist Party administration of the French Prime Minister.
French Presidents only rarely invoke this constitutional provision. It was used most recently some nine years ago. Opposition leader Nicolas Sarkozy has threatened to lobby for a no confidence vote, which could precipitate new national elections.
The economic measure which excited this controversy consists of several items of legislation promoted by Minister Emmanuel Macron as a way of assisting business development in France. At the present time, the nation suffers from an unemployment rate estimated to exceed 10%.
The reform package would extend the hours allowed for conducting trading activities during the weekend, apply deregulation to some occupations (including the legal profession) and reduce requirements for labor arbitration in the case of firms with 50 or more employees. Many large companies strongly favor these economic items. However, opposition to the passage of the bill in the National Assembly divided the Socialist Party itself.