Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Constitutional Reform

François Fillon speaks to Le Monde this morning about constitutional reform. Given the desire to proceed by consensus, it's hardly surprising that the result can't be described as revolutionary. To employ the usual cliché--"it looks like it was designed by a committee"--would be both accurate and unfair to the more inspired committee that designed the U. S. Constitution. All of the more noteworthy proposals have been dropped: there will be no ban on the cumul des mandats (holding of multiple elective offices), no dose of proportional representation in the election of deputies, and no formal redistribution of responsibilities between president and prime minister. Parliament's role will be "strengthened," ostensibly, in "preparation" for a future "presidentialization" of the regime, which Fillon sees as "ineluctable." But for now the prime minister remains the nominal head of government, and the legislature's power to check the executive remains largely hypothetical. There will of course be a great mock battle over the provision to permit the president to address the Assembly directly, as if this measure had one gram of practical import. But this wan "reform" will nevertheless be racked up as one more victory by a president who needs, apparently, to proceed from battle to battle, all banners flying.

There is progress, however. The judiciary would become more independent, as the Superior Council of the Magistracy, now presided over by the president of the Republic, would be taken over by the premier président of the Cour de Cassation, and the minister of justice would no longer have an ex officio seat. And Parliament's powers would be increased somewhat, most significantly by an explicit requirement for legislative approval of any troop intervention lasting more than six months.

Of course it's obvious that the cumul des mandats would cease to be an issue if deputies had enough to do, and sufficient power and influence, that they didn't feel the need to acquire actual power, money, and staff by running for local office. On the other hand, they might discover the time-honored American device of the "local earmark" and quickly drain the French treasury of its remaining sous.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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