French PM to face baptism of fire in divided parliament

PARIS – French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne will on Wednesday lay out the government’s policy priorities in her first speech in front of what promises to be a stormy parliament. The 61-year-old will make the customary “general political declaration” to kick off the legislative session, which is being scrutinised closely given Borne’s weak position at the head of a minority government. Centrist President Emmanuel Macron suffered a setback in parliamentary elections last month that saw his allies fall short of a majority by 39 seats.


He and Borne have since failed to tempt opposition parties into a coalition.
“The prime minister is working round the clock,” a cabinet minister told AFP this week. “She’s meeting everyone, she’s calling everyone. She’s really committed to listening, so we’ll manage.”
Without formal allies in the 577-seat national assembly, Borne has decided not to call a confidence vote on her policy speech — something almost all past prime ministers have done after their first appearances in the lower house.
Holding a vote would be “too risky” for Borne, who would have been forced to step down if she lost, explained Bruno Cautres, a researcher at the Cevipof political studies unit at Sciences Po university in Paris.
“She made the right decision, but she didn’t really have a choice.”
But the hard-left France Unbowed (LFI) party, one of the big gainers in June’s parliamentary polls, announced that it would immediately call for a no-confidence motion, which could also topple Borne.
“It probably won’t pass but it’s important to make ourselves heard,” top LFI MP Mathilde Panot told BFM television after criticising the premier for failing to call a vote on Wednesday.

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