Saturday, June 9, 2012

Six Ministers in Jeopardy

There are legislative elections in France tomorrow, in case you've forgotten. The campaign has gone all but unnoticed, and, even more than in the presidential election, the issues have been avoided, as Arun Kapil notes. Since ministers must win their seats in order to remain ministers, there are six who may be in trouble:

Pour d'autres sortants, la situation est plus incertaine. C'est le cas d'Aurélie Filippetti (culture et communication) dans la 1re circonscription de Moselle, où M. Hollande a obtenu 52,3 % le 6 mai ; de Jérôme Cahuzac (budget) dans la 3e de Lot-et-Garonne (51,8 % pour M. Hollande) ; de Marisol Touraine (affaires sociales et santé) dans la 1re d'Indre-et-Loire (51,8 %) ; de Pierre Moscovici (économie et finances) dans la 4e du Doubs (51,27 %) ; et de Sylvia Pinel (artisanat, commerce et tourisme), seule ministre membre du Parti radical de gauche, dans la 2e de Tarn-et-Garonne (50,9 %).
Of course they're in trouble only because Hollande and Ayrault decided to emulate Sarkozy's gambit of imposing this rule on their ministerial choices. It kept Juppé from becoming a super-minister in 2007, as originally intended (or perhaps it was Sarko's intention all along to neutralize Juppé by naming him to an important post but imposing a rule that was likely to prevent him from assuming it, as turned out to be the case). But what was the purpose of the rule? Later in his presidency, when he wanted Juppé for a different ministry (foreign affairs), "respect for democracy" apparently no longer required his surviving a baptism of fire.

The whole business is faintly demagogic. The French government, unlike the British, is not an emanation of the legislature. It is a distinct constitutional entity, and there is really no good reason why ministers should be required to win elections if they happen to run but, if they don't, to serve without impediment.


Anonymous said...

What is also perverse about this stupid rule that Ayrault mindlessly imposed is that not all the minister-candidates are in the same electoral boat. Some are running in difficult, UMP majority constituencies, whereas others are in ones safe for the left. It is unfair and absurd that, say, Aurelie Filippetti in the Moselle, which votes right, should be ejected from the govt, whereas Cécile Duflot in the eastern arrondissements of Paris (a circonscription the PS gave to her on a platter) will not have to worry at all about this.


Mitch Guthman said...

I don’t understand how this works. The only parliamentary system I’m familiar with is the British but it seems clear from Art’s description that the two systems are not identical. Can anyone direct me to an explanation of differences between the British and French systems? Or perhaps simply an explanation of the French system of government? (Preferably in reasonably easy French)