opinion | Let’s make sense of the legislative elections!

Emmanuel Macron promised during the presidential campaign that the reform of our institutions will be one of the priorities of his second five-year term. For this purpose, he announced the constitution of the inter-party commission to try to reach a consensus around this reform.

One of the main challenges will be giving voters a voice more often. The establishment of the five-year period and what has been called the inversion of the calendar means that today they vote once every five years, for their president and then for the National Assembly.

So they are no longer consulted throughout the five-year period, at least at the national level, because they are for local and European elections. In addition, and above all, the legislative elections have lost much of their interest.

Intervening just after the presidential election, its only objective is to give a majority to the newly elected president, which translates into strong abstention, with the president’s voters – at least until then – being the only ones who really mobilize.

Proportional as a voting method

A return to the seven-year term would solve this problem, but it would be perceived as a regression and seems incompatible with the rhythm of political life today. With our partners, the term is usually five years.

Another solution could be to shorten the mandate of the deputies to two and a half years, to create the so-called “midterms” as in the United States, which would give voters a voice in the middle of a presidential term. Emmanuel Macron also mentioned this track during the campaign.

But the National Assembly must also be more representative of the different political currents, which requires the introduction of proportional representation in the voting method for the election of deputies.

However, full proportionality would call into question the functioning of the institutions of the VY Republic. This is based on several elements: the election by universal suffrage of the President of the Republic and the fact of the majority in the National Assembly. If we kept the balance between the big forces, as was shown in the last presidential elections, the extreme right would get 33% of the vote and the radical left 23%. Therefore, a majority could not emerge and the country would be ungovernable.

Parity and representativeness

In addition, it should be remembered that our regime is a parliamentary regime and that the President of the Republic can only exercise executive power if he has a majority in the National Assembly. In fact, we would enter another Republic.

It would be better to maintain a proportional list ballot with a majority bonus, as in the regional and municipal ballots.

It would be better to maintain a system of proportional lists with a majority bonus, as is applied for regional and municipal elections. This guarantees the correct representation of all the political families that have reached a certain level (5 to 10% of the votes cast) and gives the majority to the list that arrives first.

Such a ballot would also guarantee parity (lists would necessarily alternate between a man and a woman). In order to maintain a link with the field, it is possible to consider that the constituency is not the national level, but rather the region or large regions.

To implement these two reforms it is not necessary to modify the Constitution. The duration of the mandate of the deputies is governed by an organic law and the form of voting by a simple law. These two texts could be voted on fairly quickly so that they can be applied during the current presidential period, that is, in December 2024.

dominique villemot He is a lawyer and president of Living Democracy.

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