French parliament halted by lawmaker’s shout “Go back to Africa”
The president of the French senate, under pressure from the opposition, suspended the body from holding plenary sessions on Thursday after two opposition groups stormed the chamber, preventing any debate.
The clashes were sparked by the appearance of new socialist leader Anne-Marie Guy-Quint, who took over the seat of Jean-Pierre Sueur, a longtime leader of the Democratic party.
Guy-Quint, who was elected to the senate last Sunday, was asked to make a report to parliament about a proposed law to improve government spending, which would have been unprecedented for a senate president.
Guy-Quint has promised to work to end inequality and make the state less bureaucratic.
The president of the Senate, Catherine Troescher, said she ordered a temporary suspension of the body’s powers on the grounds that Guy-Quint, who was elected last Sunday, had failed to uphold “the rules of the chamber.”
Guy-Quint’s party, the Party of France, has accused the socialists of making the suspension a pretext to shut down debate in the chamber.
The move is the latest in a series of defeats for the socialists, who have seen eight consecutive election victories in recent years come under attack, with one major party, the communists, gaining a new foothold in parliament with a series of historic gains in the last 10 months.
Sueur, who led the socialists for 16 years until his death in 2016, said in an interview with Europe 1 radio that he would step aside after a “very frank” exchange with the prime minister, Édouard Philippe, on Wednesday.
The Socialist senator refused to quit after winning a sixth term in the senate – the first time in its history, a senator has not quit during a term – saying he “regretted” the defeat.
Philippe said the socialist leader should “keep his head down” in the chamber, which has been dominated by the party for the last decade, after he accused the senator of “disloyalty to the socialist cause” in recent days.
Guy-Quint has vowed to continue the fight against inequality and for the state to be less bureaucratic.
After the Socialist Party wins the most seats in the legislative elections, it will have a majority in the house’s upper chamber