A CHAOTIC few days in politics could see two European leaders toppled within a matter of days.
As Theresa May’s job hangs in the balance, France’s President Emmanuel Macron also faces a vote of no confidence. Here’s what’s going on across the Channel.
What has happened?
While all eyes in the UK have been riveted on the crisis unfolding here, 40-year-old Macron is enduring his own nightmare.
Just hours after May’s premiership is put to the test, Macron too will face a vote of no confidence.
Representatives from the French Communist Party, the Socialist Party and the far-left populist movement France Unbowed (La France Insoumise) have come together to table the motion against his government.
Like May, it’s quite likely he will win the vote on December 13, 2018.
But reports suggest there is only a negligible chance the administration would lose a no-confidence vote, given its majority.
The last French government to be topped by such a motion was that of Georges Pompidou in 1962.
The left-wing groups filing the motion have just 62 lawmakers out of 577 in the National Assembly, making a loss extremely unlikely.
By comparison, President Emmanuel Macron’s party Republic on the Move boasts 309 lawmakers and is allied to centrist groups that represent at least 74 extra votes.
Why is Macron in trouble?
Macron has been one of France’s most unpopular leaders since he came into power in 2017.
But it’s got a lot worse since anti-government protesters started wreaking havoc on the streets of Paris.
The “yellow vest” movement or gilets jaunes wear the distinctively coloured roadside safety vests while they demonstrate.
The protests began in mid-November about fuel tax rises but have escalated into expressions of wider discontent about Macron’s policies.
Since the movement kicked off November 17, three people have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes or accidents stemming from the protests.
France’s interior ministry says about 136,000 people took part in the protests nationwide on December 2.
Demonstrators burned dozens of cars, looted boutiques and smashed up luxury private homes and cafes in the worst disturbances the capital has seen since 1968.
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The yellow vest movement’s supporters cut across age, job profile and geographical region, and point to a long-bubbling discontent with the status quo.
Macron attempted to strike conciliatory note in response to the riots – but his gamble hasn’t quite paid off.
On December 10, 2018, he made a speech announcing £90 wage increases for the poorest workers and a tax cut for most pensioners to defuse discontent.
Aside from offering tax breaks and wage hikes for the low-paid, he also apologised to the nation for his sometimes unfeeling manner.
But these pledges have left his government scrambling to come up with extra budget savings or risk blowing through the EU’s 3 percent of GDP limit.
But those weren’t enough to assuage the fears of all left-wing groups, who filed a no-confidence motion today.
When or if Macron makes it through the vote, he will then have to deliver all those promises he made – which will be no easy matter.
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