Without a majority, Elisabeth Borne forced to initiate 49-3 for a “coherent budget” with the presidential project


Posted Oct 19, 2022, 7:03 PMUpdated on Oct 20, 2022 at 7:11 am

This is the first of a long series on budgetary texts. This Wednesday at the end of the afternoon, the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, went up to the podium of the National Assembly to announce that she was triggering 49.3 on the first part of the 2023 finance bill and therefore committing the government responsibility.

“We must give a budget to France, consistent with the commitments made to the French: no tax increase, no increase in deficits! launched the head of government to the applause of the majority but in the hubbub of the opposition.

Trivialize the use of 49-3

This 49-3 on the first part of the PLF – the last of its kind took place under Pierre Bérégovoy in 1992 – is certainly not a surprise with a relative majority. And the government, like the parliamentarians of the majority, have also applied themselves since the start of the school year to trivializing its recourse.

Nevertheless, it remains for the government, which has not ceased to return the hot potato of its recourse to the oppositions, a difficult moment. “No one will ever derive political benefit from doing the 49-3, it’s not popular”, recognized a government heavyweight just before his activation. It is indeed two thirds of the French (66%) who are opposed to its use on this budget, according to an Elabe poll published on Tuesday.

“The choice of dialogue”

“To find a compromise, it takes two: the presidents of opposition groups said from the start that they would not vote […], the blocking does not come from us”, had warned Elisabeth Borne in front of the Renaissance deputies. She also tried this Wednesday to highlight “the choice of dialogue”, recalling the Dialogues de Bercy, and the compromises found… on the other texts. Bercy also pointed out, without convincing the opposition on the will to debate, that there have already been 55 hours of debate against 37 last year. The oppositions saw it rather as a fool’s game.

There have been debates within the government on when to trigger 49-3 this Wednesday – at the end of the afternoon or after the television news – but there is no question for Elisabeth Borne not to assume and to give the impression of passing on the sly. “And then the French do not get up every morning wondering which amendments we have retained”, relativizes an adviser to the executive.

The majority has however multiplied the arbitration meetings – sometimes tense – on what the government would retain in the final text. “This text is not a copy of the project initially proposed”, insisted Elisabeth Borne, announcing that “more than a hundred amendments” were retained, including some from the oppositions “of the republican arc” , even if the latter denounced for them a small portion.

Pass the pill

Monday, during a meeting at the Elysée around Emmanuel Macron and Elisabeth Borne, the Head of State had given the framework: “No tax increase, no increase in debt, we do not unravel what we have done for five years and we do not distort the 2022 program, ”reports a minister. “In the end, we are the ones who pay, and the Senate is waiting for us at the turn to criticize our budgetary negligence. In this game, it’s tails you win, tails I lose, ”jokes another in the face of the opposition amendments which considerably increased the bill.

Among the most significant contributions retained, an increase in the tax credit for childcare, the increase in the value of restaurant tickets, the half-share of widows of veterans… So many measures for the general public – and costly – likely to pass the 49-3 pill in public opinion.

“Anti-democratic coup”

“What we can regret and what is frustrating is that we did not have time to examine all the subjects, in particular essential points such as production taxes, the tax on superprofits, local authorities, etc. “Reacted MP LR Véronique Louwagie.

“It is an anti-democratic coup and it was coupled with a contempt for the National Assembly by the government which ensured that we lag behind the debate”, castigated Eric Coquerel, the president (LFI ) of the Finance Committee, also deploring that it could not take place on these “major subjects”, including “taxation on superprofits”. “He interrupts to stop the bleeding that we have witnessed,” he added, the government having been put in difficulty on many occasions. Including with its own majority.

The debate around the amendment of the president of the Modem group, Jean-Paul Mattei, on the increase in the taxation of superdividends in particular will leave traces. And the Modem is determined to come back to the charge. Without, promised François Bayrou Wednesday morning, “to blow up the majority”, that is to say without voting the motions of censure tabled against the government. After that of Nupes this Wednesday, the RN will file its own this Thursday. They should be debated either on Saturday or Monday.

Without being able to bring down the government, LR having warned, through the voice of group president Olivier Marleix, that it is “useless to add chaos to chaos”.

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