By JADE LE DELEY and BARBARA SURK
PARIS (AP) — French lawmakers on Monday failed to pass a no-confidence motion requested by a leftist coalition to symbolically mark their opposition to President Emmanuel Macron’s government and economic policies.
Although the vote failed, it was a new slap for Macron’s leadership. It came as Macron’s critics in parliament questioned his close relations with Uber and business lobbyists after an international media investigation revealed details of his conversations with Uber executives when Macron was France’s finance minister.
The leftist coalition, known as Nupes, championed the no-confidence motion in the wake of Prime Minister Elizabeth Borne’s first major speech to the National Assembly after last month’s parliamentary election.
Only 146 legislators approved the motion, far short of the 289 needed. While many lawmakers are angry at Macron’s policies, some opposition parties are also against the leftists and didn’t join them in the vote.
“Emmanuel Macron is the president of the lobbies, who drives for Uber,” said Mathilde Panot, the Nupes leader in the National Assembly. She called the vote an act of “defiance” and a reminder that many voters see Macron as representing the business world instead of struggling workers.
Macron’s government says it’s trying to do both. Borne, defending the government in parliament, called the vote a “political tactic” by lawmakers who are “angry with history” because they are no longer in power.
Nupes is the largest opposition force in the lower house of parliament, with 151 seats. Macron’s centrist alliance lost its majority in last month’s election but still has the most seats, at 250.
The conservative Republican party, which holds 62 seats, did not take part in the vote.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, runner-up in the last two French presidential elections and a staunch opponent of the leftists, denounced the no-confidence vote as a political move aimed to “make the Fifth Republic crumble.”
Still, speaking Sunday on French broadcaster BFM, Le Pen said her National Rally party, the largest right-wing opposition party with 89 seats, will use “all available power we have in the parliament against the government.”
The Uber investigation revelations fueled the anger of Macron’s critics.
“We have a president of the republic who wants to impose an American (business) model” on France, Communist Party lawmaker Fabien Roussel said on BFM. He accused Macron of wheeling and dealing with Uber executives and lobbyists behind the back of fellow members.
Several other left-wing officials criticized Macron after an international conglomerate of investigative journalists, including France’s Le Monde newspaper, revealed his meetings and communication with Uber executives and their lobbyists between 2014 and 2016, when Macron was minister of economy and finance. A lawmaker with the far-left France Unbowed party, Alexis Corbier, said an investigation into the matter might be launched in the parliament.
Uber has been operating in France since 2011. Its appearance unleashed furious resentment from French taxi drivers’ unions and years of legal battles over regulations and protections for its drivers.
Macron’s allies dismissed allegations that he did anything wrong.
“It’s amazing that the country is offended that the minister of economy had met with business leaders,” Aurore Berge, the leader of Macron’s Renaissance party in parliament, said Monday on broadcaster CNews. “Fortunately, he was doing his job.”
Normally, a new government in France requests a vote of confidence from the parliament to give more legitimacy to their agenda. But after the governing party lost its majority, Borne didn’t take that risk, breaking a long-time tradition.
Surk reported from Nice, France.
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