Monday, June 4, 2007

An Offer They Can't Refuse?

Bernard Accoyer, currently the president of the UMP group in the National Assembly, is proposing a novel "check and balance" on the UMP's impending one-party government. This is to take the form of a permanent government audit commission. What is particularly striking is that Accoyer wants the chairman of this commission to be a deputy of "the opposition."

Now, such a proposal would require some elucidation. The term "opposition" has no constitutional definition, and the committee itself would require a constitutional amendment. He also wants another committee to be responsible for following the implementation by the administration of laws passed by the Assembly and a procedure for "advice and consent" in important appointments.

To be sure, Accoyer intends to run for the post of president of the National Assembly, so one can see moves to enhance the Assembly's role as self-interested. But these proposals strike me at first sight as good ideas.

It's interesting, too, that the proposal to institutionalize the oversight role of the opposition comes from a deputy who said last year that "our duty is to stand in the way of the left, one of the most archaic lefts in Europe, and one of the most irresponsible in the face of reality and the future."


Gregory said...

Royal, during the campaign, had proposed such an idea -- that the chairmanship of the Assemblee's Commission de Finances should come from the opposition. As I recall, Sarkozy proposed this as well during the debate. So in some respects, this is a step back.

Francisco said...

But surely the UMP already ran a "one-party state" under Chirac/de Villepin. What oversight institutions operated over the last five years? There must be a French equivalent of the General Accounting Office, isn't there?

Arthur Goldhammer said...

The Cour des Comptes, like the GAO or the CBO, is supposed to be an apolitical arm of government. The proposed committee, by contrast, would consist of deputies and be chaired by a deputy of the opposition, hence presumably have different priorities from a neutral agency.

Gregory said...

To wit