MOTION OF CENSURE. The motion of censure carried by the deputies on the left did not collect enough votes to overthrow the government. But was it really a hit for nothing?
Despite an unprecedented and tense political situation, the government remains in place. Monday, July 11, 2022, the motion of censure carried by the deputies of the New Popular Ecological and Social Union (Nupes) was not adopted, collecting only 146 votes, a number far from the 289 necessary to be able to overthrow the government. . The union of the left has failed in its quest – itself had made up its mind after the announcement of LR and RN not to sign it – but this is not a simple sword blow in water from the deputies LFI, EELV, PS and PCF, thus opening a political sequence during which the differences of visions will be exacerbated in the National Assembly.
The left accuses LR and the RN of complacency
It does not matter that the right and the extreme right do not support the motion of censure, it was for the Nupes to affirm its frontal opposition to Elisabeth Borne and the policy of Emmanuel Macron (read below), but also to appear as the main force able to stand up against the presidential project, trying to establish an image of complacency of LR and RN towards power. Who defended themselves from any support for the President of the Republic, claiming rather to act for the benefit of the French by not signing the motion of censure, so as not to block the institutions with the aim of advancing the texts to come as quickly as possible on purchasing power. Marine Le Pen’s party defended a “constructive opposition”, when the historical right warned: “you do not have our distrust today, but you do not have our confidence for all that.”
The left, through the voice of Mathilde Panot, was much more virulent towards Elisabeth Borne. “You do not derive your legitimacy from the legislative elections or even from Parliament. […] You are, in this function, a democratic anomaly”, launched the deputy of Val-de-Marne, adding that “this motion [a tenu] place of political clarification since you have not changed anything on the merits and that your program of social and ecological malfeasance is intact. This vote [a permis] to distinguish those who wish to serve as a crutch for this power, or pretend to oppose it, to those who carry a real alternative for this country.
For her part, Elisabeth got carried away against the motion of censure of the Nupes, in the wake of the comments made by LR and the RN. “Today, we could be acting for the French. Instead, we are debating a motion of censure stitched together with a trial of intent, which obstructs parliamentary work and, therefore, the will of the French”, launched the Prime Minister. From now on, the Assembly will be able to launch its legislative work.
Monday July 11, 2022, the motion of censure tabled by the Nupes was voted by 146 deputies: the 75 belonging to the group of La France insoumise, 25 PS deputies (out of 31), 23 EELV deputies, 22 deputies from the communist group, but also Nicolas Dupont-Aignan. Six PS deputies did not sign it: Dominique Potier, Valérie Rabault, Hervé Saulignac, Cécile Untermaier, Joël Avignaret and Bertrand Petit.
What is a motion of censure?
The motion of censure has been a term at the heart of parliamentary news since the end of the legislative elections. Its objective: to lead, if it is adopted, to the resignation of the Prime Minister as well as of his government. The motion of censure can be spontaneous, directly tabled by deputies. They must be at least 58, or one tenth of the National Assembly. To be adopted, it must collect 289 votes “for”, that is to say the absolute majority of the hemicycle. In the event of a relative majority (a majority of “for” but less than 289), it is not adopted.
The motion of censure can also be provoked by the government when it engages its responsibility during the use of article 49.3: this article allows a text to be adopted without debate in the Assembly, unless a motion of censorship, filed within 24 hours, does not win an absolute majority. Under the Fifth Republic, 51 motions of censure were thus filed in the case of the use of 49.3 (we speak of “offensive motions”), but none won a majority.
How many motions of no confidence have led to the overthrow of a government?
Since the establishment of the Fifth Republic, 58 “spontaneous” motions of censure have been tabled against 20 prime ministers. But only one was adopted, in 1962 (read below). It must be said that bringing such a procedure to fruition is not easy. The hardest part being, for the oppositions, to agree on the same text. In July 2018, for example, Les Républicains, but also, with the same voice, the groups Nouvelle gauche, La France insoumise and Gauche democrate et republicaine had tabled a motion of censure against the government of Edouard Philippe after the revelations of the Benalla affair. But LR had not voted for the motion of censure from the left, which had nevertheless supported that tabled by the right. Result: neither had succeeded.
A motion of censure almost succeeded in 1992, against the reform of the common agricultural policy. While François Mitterrand, the President of the Republic, only had a relative majority in the National Assembly, the RPR (ex-LR) and the centrist parties UDF and UDC had agreed to table a motion of censure, soon joined by the Communist Party. The motion had failed to reach a majority by 3 votes.
The motion of censure was passed only once in the history of the Fifth Republic. It was in 1962, when General De Gaulle, President of the Republic, announced his intention to introduce direct universal suffrage in the presidential election. In the National Assembly, the Head of State only had a very relative majority (206 deputies). While the minimum number of votes required was 241, the motion of no confidence was supported by 280 deputies. It had therefore led to the resignation of the Prime Minister, Georges Pompidou. Except that De Gaulle had refused the resignation of his Prime Minister, dissolved the National Assembly, and called new legislative elections… from which he emerged with an enlarged majority, rising to 233 deputies.