Thursday, April 17, 2008

New Feature

In preparing this blog, I take in a lot more information than I can possibly write about. Some of it is relevant to French politics, some not. It occurred to me that some of you might be interested in some of the items that strike me as particularly noteworthy, so I've created a shared page via Google Reader where you will find links to articles I've flagged from the Web. I hope you find it useful. There is also an RSS feed on that page for those who use aggregators.

Reform of the Senate

The PS wants to reform the Senate. The Senate is supposed to represent "local collectivities." The PS controls 20 of 22 regions, 58 of 102 départements, and 57 percent of cities and towns with population greater than 10,000 (in which reside 60 percent of the population), yet it is still in the minority in the Senate because the mode of election favors towns with populations below 1,500, where the Right remains in the majority. "Here is proof that there is a flaw in our system that every democrat must have at heart to remedy," says Robert Badinter. Unfortunately, the mode of election is determined by statute rather than by the constitution and is therefore impossible to change as long as the Right has a lock on the upper chamber. Hence the strategy of the PS is to make reform of the Senate a precondition for discussions with the majority on the constitutional reforms it wants. Since those consitutional reforms require a 3/5 majority, the PS has more leverage.

Here we get down to political trench warfare. Which constitutional reforms does the Right want so badly that it would sacrifice the Senate to get them? Would Sarkozy trade the upper house for the right to deliver a "state of the Republic" address to Parliament once a year? Asked and answered.