French prime minister wins confidence vote, allows him to try to cure stagnant economy

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PARIS — French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has won a vote of confidence in a tense ballot, allowing him to push through economic reforms that have divided the left.

The Socialist government's once comfortable margin was diluted in the 269-244 vote Tuesday, with 53 abstentions. The balloting was held after a speech laying out government policy aimed in part at wooing back Socialist dissenters who think he has abandoned his leftist ideals in favor of big business.

Of the 53 abstentions, 31 of them were Socialists.

Valls was backed by 309 lawmakers in an April vote of confidence when he took office.

But the current 25-vote margin allows the prime minister to carry on with reforms aimed at lifting France out of its economic crisis.

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