France’s Valls Invokes Emergency Power to Push Through Labor Law

  • Parliamentary by-pass rule invoked for second time on law
  • Hollande’s government at odds with its Socialist majority

French President Francois Hollande’s government used special constitutional powers to push through a labor law reform in the face of unabated opposition from within his own Socialist Party and unions.

“We have made choices, clear choices,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in the National Assembly. The constitution “allows us to advance. We’re acting in the interest of the French people,” Valls said as he announced the use of article 49-3 of the constitution to enact a legislation without majority support in parliament.

The government’s recourse to the emergency power shows the degree of tension between Hollande and his own party. Controversy about the law has dominated local headlines for months, obscuring the strengthening economy and sending Hollande’s approval rating to a record low.

Unions are holding demonstrations against the new law Tuesday and plan to organize further protests for September. They have held at least 11 so far and Valls even sought to ban a march in Paris, a measure not used in France in over 50 years, before backing down to allow a short march on June 23.

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