Charles de Courson and the Censure

Charles de Courson and the Censure

Charles de Courson, age 70, has been a member of the National Assembly since 1993, representing a district in the Marne department. He is an expert in finance, and serves on that Committee. From 1986 to 2017, he was mayor of Vanault-les-Dames (current population 417)[1], before he was forced to give up his office because of the “non-cumul des mandats” law passed by François Hollande’s administration–meaning that one should not hold too many of a certain kind of elected position. (It’s complicated.). He regrets the loss of the “deputy-mayor”, and thinks that life in the National Assembly is not what it used to be in 1993; it was at that time “full of ‘important’ political men who had experience and convictions. At that time, no extremists or almost none.” He blames the change on the fact that the nationally famous men were at that time also likely to be mayors, or regional or municipal councilors, and “possessed a true territorial anchorage.” He is not the only one to regret the law, and he might well be right in blaming the lack of local responsibilities for the loud, media-driven performances of many in the Assembly.[2]

But since the beginning of the debate on retirement, he has been in demand by the media for his staunch opposition to the bill that was just forced through. Thus we know of him that his full name is Charles Amédée du Buisson de Courson, leading Socialist Olivier Faure to tweet that “the nobility is joining the Third Estate”:

We have learned in recent days that both his grandfather and father were in government. His grandfather, representative of Doubs, refused in 1940 to vote to give Marshal Pétain full power and died, ultimately, in a concentration camp; his father was in the Resistance. We have learned that he is referred to as the soldat-moine (soldier monk) for his austere and courteous manner, his precise dress, and his unmarried state–his mistress, he has said, is la France. In other words, he is known without being well-known–until now. With his political caucus, or groupe, LIOT, he will on March 20 introduce and defend a motion of censure against the government, and if it passes, Elisabeth Borne and her cabinet will have to resign.

LIOT stands for Libertés, Indépendants, Outre-Mer, (overseas), Territoire). It consists of twenty members who do not have much in common (except, on this occasion, an opposition to the retirement bill), described rather haphazardly by Ouest-France as the disillusioned of a number of parties, including Marcheurs (from Macron’s old party name, La République en Marche), “three Corsicans,” and five from France’s overseas departments and territories.[3]. One must have at least fifteen members to create a caucus (groupe) and there are many incentives to do it. A caucus gets an office, is on the Bureau of the National Assembly (in this, as in everything, proportional to its size). The president of the groupe is entitled to join the small Conférence des présidents, which determines the issues to be taken up in session (l’ordre du jour). Caucuses have proportional representation on permanent committees, special committees, and committees of inquiry. Finally, according to constitutional revisions of 2009 and 2014, each caucus of the opposition and minority groups are entitled to one commission of inquiry, or investigation, on a subject of their choosing, with the group constructed proportionally.[4]

In the current situation, the small size of LIOT allows for its resolution to be a “transparty” affair. No one is threatened by LIOT, and though Courson has remained cagey about who is going to join them, he has suggested that he has been talking to a great many deputies. Mathilde Panot, head of La France Insoumise caucus (74) has announced that they will support LIOT’s motion of censure, but will not support that of the Rassemblement national. Fabian Roussel, the Secretary General of the Parti Communist Français (PCF) and a part of the Gauche démocrate et républicain caucus (22), has announced his personal support.[5]

Some have suggested that Courson’s own position is not so clear; his statement on the matter in his 2022 election was appropriately ambiguous: “An overall retirement reform should be engaged, with the extinction of ‘special regimes,’ including those of parlementaires, to go towards a single regime for all workers, in the public as well as the private sector, for equity and justice among all workers.”[6]. Further, at the last presidential election he had supported Valérie Pécresse (LR) who had said that she wanted to move the age of retirement to 65.[7]

But in this case, he was more concerned about the use of 49-3, in a situation where there were massive protests in the streets and Borne did not have the votes in the National Assembly. When she made this announcement, he said, none of the members of the two allied groups, the MoDems and Horizons, applauded. They were in fact angry, because they had gone to the Élysée to plead with Macron not to use 49-3, “saying that this would have very great consequences.” The use of the measure had fractured, “fragilized,” the governing coalition. And beyond that, their democracy itself: “We’re in the process of ruining the democratic system.” Courson refused to predict whether his motion of censure would pass, but noted that there was also recourse to the Conseil constitutional.[8]


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[1] Not too small for Airbnb:

[2] Gérard Delenclos, “Charles de Courson: la politique, cent heures par semaine et sept jours sur sept,” Reflets Actuels, March 17, 2023. (Reims)

[3] Yves-Marie Robin, “Charles de Courson, l’homme de la motion de censure,” Ouest-France, March 19, 2023.  

[4] Information retrievable on the home page of the Assemblée nationale.

[5] Gauthier Delomez, “Réforme des retraites: qui sont les députés Liot qui veulent déposer une motion de censure transpartisane?” Europe 1, March 16, 2023.

[6] Agathe Rey, “Retraites: qui est Charles de Courson, le député qui veut faire tomber le gouvernement?”, CNews, March 18, 2023.

[7] “Qui est Charles de Courson, député à la manoeuvre pour censurer le gouvernement?” Charente Libre, March 19, 2023.

[8] “Retraites: ‘C’est inadmissible d’utiliser un 49.3 et de mettre le feu au pays,’ estime Charles de Courson,” franceinfo, March 17, 2023.

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