Parliamentary rules in France are a bit bizarre. Rules allow the president to pass legislation directly, over the wishes of parliament, without a vote.

The legislation stands unless the president fails a confidence vote.

Expect a vote shortly as Hollande whipped up legislation that neither the left nor the right can stand.

The Financial Times reports French Government Bypasses Parliament to Force Through Jobs Bill.

The French government is to ram through parliament a jobs bill designed to bring flexibility to France’s dysfunctional labour market using decree powers to sidestep fierce resistance from its own Socialist MPs.

Lacking parliamentary backing to pass the legislation, Prime Minister Manuel Valls was authorised by President François Hollande to force through the reform without a vote.

The use of the decree power — which Mr Hollande used last year to pass measures to liberalise the economy — means the bill will automatically be adopted in the lower and upper houses unless the government loses a confidence vote.

The jobs reform simplifies labour rules, facilitates lay-offs in case of economic slowdowns and allows companies to strike deals with their employees on overtime.

Following street protests in March, the government watered down the bill, taking out pro-business measures such as a ceiling on severance packages in case of wrongful dismissals. However, the retreat failed to calm unions, who have railed against the idea that companies could bypass them and sign deals on working hours with employee representatives. In the meantime, the country’s main business organisations have withdrawn their initial support for the bill.

[Congratulations to Hollande for making virtually everyone unhappy. That’s not easy to do.]

He needs every single vote on the left to avoid the humiliation of being eliminated in the first round of the presidential elections in April next year. Recent opinion surveys show he would not qualify for the runoff, coming third after Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front party, and the centre-right nominee.

Nobody Happy

Hollande’s own party cannot stand this legislation nor Hollande himself. And the bill was watered down so much the opposition does not like it either.

Hollande’s popularity was at a record low 17% in March in French Opinion Poll.

Confidence Vote

With everyone truly upset at the president, one might think he would fail the confidence vote.

More than likely, Hollande will survive. The socialists are going to get clobbered in the next election and to vote against Hollande now will put them out of a job now rather than next year.

Surprises are possible if disgust gets low enough, but in general, politicians would rather have a paycheck than do the right thing.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock