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France's Socialist rebels refuse to back budget

Ben McPartland · 21 Oct 2014, 14:23

Published: 21 Oct 2014 14:23 GMT+02:00

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The discord in France’s Socialist party showed no signs of healing after a group of rebels refused to back the government’s budget in a vote in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

The rebels, known by their French name “Les frondeurs”, 39 MPs total in this session, had warned they would be abstaining from the vote on the 2015 budget, claiming their concerns had not been listened to. 

Despite their absence the budget passed 266 to 254 in the National Assembly.

The 2015 budget includes cuts of around €21 million but falls far short of the austerity measures that Brussels wants France to impose to get its deficit back in order.

The savings will be made through cuts in state spending and the social security budget as well as reduced grants to local authorities.

“France has never made an effort on such a scale,” Finance Minister Michel Sapin commented at the unveiling of the budget.

One of the other key measures sees the lowest tax bracket removed, which will ease the burden on nine million taxpayers to the tune of €3.2 million.

But the frondeurs, who want Hollande to turn away from austerity measures in order to improve the spending power of the lower and middle classes, are unwilling to support the reforms in parliament.

One of the Socialist Party rebels Christian Paul blasted the government for pushing ahead with a budget that was making savings “blindly” and its “poorly aimed spending plans”.

It means that PM Manuel Valls will have to get the budget passed without the support of around 40 MPs.

Story continues below…

That will be enough to worry Valls, but he should still have enough MPs onside to get the budget passed.

Earlier this week Socialist Party heavyweight Martine Aubry was the latest of the left to lash out at Hollande and called for a change of direction in economic policy.

Aubry had run to be the Socialist’s presidential candidate in 2012, but was defeated by François Hollande. 

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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