PARIS (Reuters) – Allies of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls tipped him to survive a confidence vote in parliament on Tuesday after the centre-left leader pursued a two-day charm offensive to cajole rebel backbenchers into the government camp.
But the wider question remained over whether Valls, whose poll ratings have crumbled since he took on the job of President Francois Hollande’s premier in April, will retain the authority needed to revamp the euro zone’s second largest economy and narrow the public deficit.
Socialist Party managers expect some 30 deputies to abstain in a vote whose result is due around 7.30pm local time (1730 GMT). That would allow Valls to win a majority in the 577-seat assembly with backing from centrist allies in other parties.
Valls summoned Socialist lawmakers to a “seminar” on Monday at which he painted a grim picture of the foreign policy challenges facing France before wining and dining them in the 18th century Hotel de Lassay mansion near parliament.
His campaign for their votes continued on Tuesday with more closed-door meetings before Valls opens the parliament session with a policy speech expected to reaffirm the more business-friendly line adopted by Hollande since January but which has yet failed to stimulate growth and trigger new hiring.
Christian Paul, one of the rebel Socialist backbenchers, expected the number of abstentions to be “probably around 30, perhaps a bit more” and stressed the protest was not an attempt to unseat Valls and push for new elections.
“Our intention is not to quit the coalition,” he said.
“I want new policies – with or without Manuel Valls … We worked together for more than 10 years to come to power and every time we move away from the promises we made in 2012 I think we are getting ourselves lost,” he told RTL radio.