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    French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a special congress gathering both houses of parliament (National Assembly and Senate) at the Versailles Palace, near Paris, France, July 3, 2017.

    'Crisis of Democracy': What Could Be Wrong With Macron's Parliamentary Reform?

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    Following through on his pledge made during the election campaign, French President Emmanuel Macron has outlined plans to cut the number of seats in the parliament by 30 percent, as well as to introduce proportional representation for 15 percent of France’s National Assembly seats.

    Speaking with Sputnik, Frédéric Saint Clair, former adviser to ex-Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, explained that the envisaged measures are not enough to overcome the “crisis of democracy” that France has been living through for past 20 years.

    “It gives me an impression that they assign a certain place to the minority representatives. But they will be insignificantly represented, and the major part of voters will not be satisfied with three additional MPs from the National Front (FN),” he said, suggesting comparing Marine le Pen’s results with Macron’s during the second round of the presidential election: 10.6 million voters.

    Saint Clair added that even Macron’s top ally, centrist François Bayrou from the Democratic Movement (MoDem), proposed a more significant share for proportional representation – 25 percent of seats.

    “Eventually, these 15 percent satisfy neither the majority [MoDem and the Union of Democrats and Independents counted on more], nor the opposition. It [the executive authority] will lose from this reform, which will barely change anything in the country’s political landscape. It [the government] seeks for political stability and clearly doesn’t want the reform to lead to the need to form alliances [with other parties]. It is clear that the executive authority needs to preserve majority in National Assembly during the voting,” he said.

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    As for Macron’s decision to slash the number of MPs by 30 percent, Saint Clair said that the government has failed to resist populism.

    “If the French think that 560 MPs insufficiently represent their interests, much less will they be satisfied with 404 MPs. Many decisions are influence by populist sentiments, widely supported by candidate [François] Fillon and leftists in relation to reducing the number of MPs, as it is believed that there are too many of them in France, and they come too expensive,” Saint Clair clarified.

    The analyst elaborated that many parliamentarians fear that a 30 percent cut will undermine ties with their constituencies, as the population may think that MPs don’t work when elected.

    The reform, which should be passed next year, would grant smaller parties better representation in the National Assembly, which was their long-running demand, as they complain they are often squeezed out by France’s two-round election system. Parties such as the right-wing National Front, which gained only eight seats despite attracting 13 percent of the votes, will be enabled to gain more seats to reflect the number of votes cast for them during elections.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.


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