French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called for emergency powers to deal with the growing unrest in France, as citizens revolt against their government.
Valls has invoked a special constitutional article to force through a controversial bill on Tuesday that he says should put a stop to the French revolution currently taking place.
This is the second time he has bypassed the legislature on this issue amid stiff opposition from members of his own party.
The Socialist prime minister argued that the reforms are needed to tackle France’s stubbornly high unemployment, which stood at 10.2 percent in the first quarter. Several members of parliament loudly booed and whistled as Valls announced that he would enact Article 49.3 of the constitution, which allows a government to pass laws without a parliamentary vote.
Political battle of wills
Opponents, including some members of the Socialist party, say the reform will threaten hard-won worker rights because it will simply make it easier for companies to lay- off workers and extend working hours.
The legislation has become a key issue for the ruling Socialist Party, with President Francois Hollande saying in June that his government will “go all the way” to enact the labour reforms.
Hollande, the least popular French president in recent times, has vowed not to stand for a second term in 2017 if he fails to reduce unemployment.
But less than a year away from the presidential election, the decision to force through the contested reform without parliamentary support is a political gamble for the unpopular Hollande and a Socialist government already the focus of regular street protests.
Thousands on the march
The bill has prompted sharp divisions in the governing Socialist party and sparked large-scale protests across the country.
Thousands marched through Paris and other cities on Tuesday, alongside the obligatory heavy police presence, in what labour unions say will be the last of a dozen such demonstrations before a summer hiatus.
Turnout estimates varied, but the numbers were in any case lower than in previous rallies.
An opinion poll in April found that 58 percent of the French public remain opposed to the Socialist government’s labour reforms.