FRANCE - POLITICS

Opposition's 'no confidence' motion goes out with a whimper

The French Socialist Party's motion in protest of President Nicolas Sarkozy's handling of the economic crisis garnered just 231 votes in the lower-house National Assembly, which was 58 short of the majority needed for it to be adopted.

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AFP - French President Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing government on Tuesday easily survived a Socialist no-confidence motion over its handling of the economic crisis.

The motion garnered just 231 votes in the lower-house National Assembly, which was 58 short of the majority needed to be adopted.

The vote came two days before mass strike protests called by all unions to demand action to protect jobs and the welfare safety net during the downturn.

"We want to sound the alarm over the grave consequences of the government's failure to act on the economic and social fronts," said the text.

The Socialists also accused Sarkozy of seeking to concentrate power in his hands by chipping away at the independence of the media, the justice system and the legislative branch.

Last month, Sarkozy unveiled a 26-billion-euro (34-billion-dollar) stimulus plan to help France fight the slowdown through massive state investment and aid for the struggling car industry.

But the opposition has dismissed the plan as inadequate and last week proposed its own 50-billion-euro "counter-plan" to kickstart the economy.

Sarkozy's party, the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), wielded its majority of 317 seats in the 577-member National Assembly to defeat the motion.

It was the second censure motion against the government since Sarkozy took office in May 2007.

A first measure against the president's decision to beef up French military involvement in Afghanistan was soundly defeated in April last year.
  

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