Sources close to President Hollande say Valls made an emergency phone call to the president just before he announced to the French lower house of parliament the use of the rarely-implemented 49-3 mechanism.
Under the mechanism, the Macron law is linked to a vote of confidence. The opposition must table a vote of no-confidence within 24 hours, or else the Macron law is automatically passed.
The National Assembly has now been suspended to allow the opposition to draft a no-confidence motion.
It emerged that an emergency meeting of ministers was held earlier today as the use of 49-3 must first be approved by ministers and Valls became aware that a rebellion on the left of the Socialist party was underway.
Speaking before the parliamentary session, Christian Paul, one of the rebels (who are called “frondeurs”) declared that “several dozen Socialist MPs would not vote in favour of the law” and that among these, “a majority” “will vote against”.
Although the opposition UMP approve of some of aspects of the law, the party had also decided to vote against.
After a highly-charged session in the National Assembly opponents of Prime Minister Valls and his finance minister Emmanuel Macron were quick to criticise the use of the mechanism.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the far left Parti de Gauche declared that the move signalled a defeat for Valls.
“There is technically a majority of MPs on the left in the National Assembly, and that isn’t enough to pass a law which is apparently a left-wing law, according to M. Valls? That is because it is a right wing law.”
Opposition UMP leader and former President Nicolas Sarkozy tweeted his reaction to the move saying “the truth is out in the open” … “there is no longer a majority, no longer a government.”
Front National leader Marine Le Pen called on Valls and the whole government to resign.
She noted that in the past, Hollande had labelled the 49-3 mechanism “a brutality” and a “denial of democracy.”
The Macron law is a package of measures which finance minister Emmanuel Macron says will boost the French economy but rebels on the left wing of the Socialist party maintain it is a right-wing law which is not in line with Hollande’s election campaign platform.