Hollande Party Whip Demands Discipline on Fiscal Treaty Vote

France’s ruling Socialist Party whip, Bruno Le Roux, called on lawmakers from President Francois Hollande’s bloc to follow party orders and back the European fiscal treaty in a parliamentary vote next week.

Some Socialist lawmakers and their Green and Communist allies have said they oppose the treaty since it was crafted by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who backed Sarkozy over Hollande in this year’s presidential ballot. The treaty will be put to a vote at the National Assembly in Paris on Oct. 9 and Oct. 10.

“I am sure that at the start of this mandate you will want to support our group and help make this vote a show of strength,” Le Roux said in a letter sent to Socialist lawmakers, according to a copy published on Europe 1 radio web site and confirmed by his office. He reminded them that, under article 17 of party statutes, “unity on a vote is the rule.”

Hollande, who campaigned on spurring growth and revising Europe’s fiscal treaty to loosen its terms, may secure ratification thanks to the votes of opposition lawmakers from Sarkozy’s party. Hollande eventually agreed to the budget pact in June as part of a European package of measures intended to put an end to the three-year-old crisis in the euro area.

Image Damage

When the vote is on a political issue rather than a moral one, then “discipline is required,” the Socialist group’s spokesman, Xavier Jullien, said by telephone. “The treaty is a political vote” and so rejecting it “would damage our image, because others in France and abroad are watching us.”

In 2005, Socialist Party leaders supported Europe’s Constitutional Treaty, only for a majority of party supporters to reject it in a referendum later that year. A minority of the party leadership also voted against it, including Hollande’s current foreign and European affairs ministers, Laurent Fabius and Bernard Cazeneuve respectively.

The fiscal treaty needs 12 of the euro region’s 17 members to back it for it to come into force. So far, eight countries including Germany, Spain and Italy have done so. Finland is also facing opposition to the treaty.

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