Europe 1 with AFP // Photo credit: Thomas SAMSON / AFP 16:38 p.m., November 10, 2023

The 17th triggering of Article 49.3 of the Constitution of Élisabeth Borne's government, this time for the final adoption of the 2023-2027 budget programming law, could be done without the Prime Minister. An event that has already happened several times in the history of the Fifth Republic.

The government is expected to trigger a new 49.3 on Monday in the National Assembly for the final adoption of the 2023-2027 budget programming law and could do so without Élisabeth Borne, who is on a trip to Ireland, AFP learned from ministerial sources on Friday. "As the Prime Minister is on an official trip to Ireland, she will be replaced in the National Assembly if her government is held accountable," according to Elisabeth Borne's entourage.

A case that will not be a first in history

The Minister for Relations with Parliament, Franck Riester, is expected to announce this recourse to 49.3 in the hemicycle. "He has the right constitutionally, that's his job," a ministry source said. On Monday, MPs will take a final look at the budgetary trajectory until 2027, for which the government had already used the constitutional weapon of 49.3 at the end of September to pass the text without a vote. This bill is on the agenda of the National Assembly on Monday at 16 p.m. with a new 49.3 in sight, the 17th since Élisabeth Borne has been in Matignon.

However, on the same day, the Prime Minister has on her agenda a trip to Ireland to celebrate the 225th anniversary of the landing of French troops at Kilcummin (north-west), on 22 August 1798, to support a rebellion against the British kingdom. She is also due to discuss with her Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar "international issues" and "major European negotiations".

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The absence of the Prime Minister to hold the government accountable to the Assembly "would not be a first", said a parliamentary source. "Under Michel Rocard (Prime Minister from 1988 to 1991), several 49.3 were triggered by the Minister of Relations with Parliament or the N.2 of the Lionel Jospin government. There needs to be a delegation." On December 15, 1989, Lionel Jospin, then Minister of State in charge of National Education, replaced Michel Rocard to trigger several 49.3 during a trip by the Prime Minister to Togo. In April 1991, Jean Poperen, Minister for Relations with Parliament, replaced Michel Rocard, who was visiting New Zealand.

49.3 could be followed by a new attempt to censure the opposition, the probable rejection of which a few days later will lead to the final adoption of this budgetary programming text. The government promises in this law to reduce the public deficit from 4.9% of gross domestic product in 2023 to 2.7% in 2027, below the European target of 3%. The Senate, with a right-wing and centre-right majority, demanded a return to below 3% two years earlier, in 2025, and a public deficit reduced to 1.7% in 2027.