French government given decree power on austerity

France's Parliament empowered the left-wing government to enact austerity measures by decree. A potential crisis in the government coalition was averted when the Communist Party voted with the Socialists after winning a promise from Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy to modify the package to shift the burden from low-income households. Political commentators from both right and left said the Communists' decision was a retreat that reflected the party's position as effective hostage of the Socialists. Last week, the Socialists embarrassed their pro-Moscow partner by expelling 47 Soviet officials.

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