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.

Socialist Could Win in North America Constituency

In something of a surprise, the Socialist candidate has a chance to win a seat in the National Assembly to represent the new North American district covering the US and Canada and comprising some 155,000 French nationals.

Closing Nuclear Plants

François Hollande has promised to close the Fessenheim nuclear power plant, which has reached the end of its lifetime. He may close others, depending on whether or not he reneges on his agreement with the Greens (at the moment, he seems to have cooled on the plan). But what will closing plants cost? A nice article by Brad Plumer is illuminating on this point.