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The end of excess of power in France
“ Forbidding the dual mandate, we will do it”. The French President confirmed last week that he wants to put an end to this on-going issue in French politics.
Despite the numerous intents to limit this widespread practice, 82% of MPs and 77% of Senators hold both a national and a local mandate. By forcing most of the representatives to choose between one or the other, this reform would free many seats in Parliament and the Senate, having thus a considerable impact on the political scene. This explains why many MPs and Senators are firmly opposed to the project even though almost 3/5 of French citizens are in favour of the reform (polls IFOP 2013).
The kind of dual mandate François Hollande is tackling, known in France as “cumul des mandats”, is a practice in which elected officials hold simultaneously a national (MP, Senator) and a local mandate (Mayor, President of a urban community). The main argument in favour of a reform is the elected representatives’ availability. Parliamentary or executive mandates are full-time jobs, and doing only one at a time would allow them to dedicate themselves to their electorate’s needs. The reform is also fuelled by the desire to refresh French politics by introducing newcomers, especially women and younger individuals, to Parliament.
Opponents argue that newcomers will not necessarily renew the political class, sociologically speaking. Also, most of the opponents insist that being mayor at the same time as being an MP helps elected officials to keep in touch with the issues that matter to French people. Finally, opponents consider that reform would weaken MPs, who would always be competing with mayors for a seat in Parliament.
In terms of political strategy, many socialist MPs, who constitute a majority in Parliament, would lose their seats if the reform were implemented. In order to establish a consensus, François Hollande has said that the reform would be applicable before the end of his presidential mandate, but after the municipal elections of 2014.