world news / Europe Issued on: 13/07/2022 – 10:54
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne speaks during a session of questions to the government at the National Assembly in Paris on July 12, 2022. © Bertrand Guay, AFP France’s government has suffered its first defeat in parliament after President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party lost its majority in elections last month.
The National Assembly rejected a proposal on Tuesday night to give the government powers to demand travellers show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test when entering France.
The defeat by 219 votes to 195 saw all the major opposition parties — the far-right National Rally (RN), the hard left LFI, and rightwing Republicans (LR) — unite against the minority government.
“The circumstances oblige the government to listen to opposition parties which at the moment it has a few difficulties in doing,” top Republicans MP Olivier Marleix told Sud Radio on Wednesday morning.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne condemned the obstruction and allies sought to stress how the so-called “extremes” — the far-right and hard-left — had teamed up together.
“Clear collusion between the extremes, each one applauding the other,” MP Maud Bregeon from Macron’s Republic on the Move wrote on Twitter alongside a video.
Fellow ruling party MP Remy Rebeyrotte criticised “an atmosphere like a football match” during the debate where speakers were routinely shouted down.
The most senior MP in the hard-left LFI party, Mathilde Panot, referred to ruling party MPs as “Playmobils” — an insult comparing them to inanimate toys.
Despite the setback on the border controls, a wider bill to tackle the seventh wave of Covid-19 infections passed the assembly with 221 votes in favour and 187 against.
After being re-elected to a second term in April, Macron saw his ability to push through domestic reforms severely curtailed by the setback in June’s parliamentary election.
Analysts say he will need to rely on the rightwing Republicans party whose 62 MPs will be crucial for passing legislation.