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The cumul des mandats ("accumulation of terms"), is a political practice that has evidenced itself in modern French politics. It consists of holding several political offices at multiple levels of government. This can cover a wide array of elected offices, encompassing local, regional, and national levels: mayors of towns, deputies in the National Assembly, Senators, Members of the European Parliament, and President of the General Council in their home regions.[1] Sometimes, officials hold as many as four positions.[2] While officials cannot hold multiple offices in the same level (like Deputy and Senator), they can hold offices in any combination of the communal, departmental, regional, national, and European levels.

Contents

Conditions on the accumulation of mandates in France

The accumulation of mandates with parliamentary mandates

Parliamentary mandates are incompatible with each other:

A member from one of the above assemblies can not combine its mandate with more than one of the following mandates :

  • Member, vice-president or president of the General Council
  • Member, vice-president or president of the Regional Council
  • Member, deputy-mayor, or mayor of a commune of more than 3,500 inhabitants

Exceptions: He/she can hold a third office in a town of less than 3,500 inhabitants.

He/she may also hold a third office as a councillor, vice-president or president of a Urban community, a Agglomeration community or a Communauté de communes, as these terms are elected by indirect universal suffrage.

For example, a member of the National Assembly has the right to be general/regional councillor or President of a regional council. He cannot hold a third office unless he is the mayor, deputy mayor or municipal councillor of a city of less than 3,500 inhabitants.

Currently, 87% of members of the National Assembly and 74% of senators have one or several local warrants.

The accumulation of local mandates

The mandates of councillor, vice-president or president of general and regional councils are incompatible with each other.

The following mandates are incompatible each other:

For example, an elected official cannot be mayor and President of the Regional Council. However, all other local mandates are cumulative. A mayor can also be a general councillor and a president of a Regional Council can also be deputy-mayor of a city.

Exceptions are the same as those for parliamentarians.

The accumulation of mandates and governmental functions

A member of the French government cannot be a member of any assembly. However, he may retain any local mandate he/she holds. A cabinet minister can exercise a maximum of 2 local mandates in addition to its government function.

For example, the Prime Minister, a Minister or Secretary of State can be mayor, President of a general, region or intercommunal council or sit in one of these assemblies.

Currently, over two-thirds of the members of the French government engaged in one or two more local mandates.

Purpose and frequency

The purpose of holding multiple offices are multiple. Holding a seat in the Senate, National Assembly, or European Parliament gives local mayors a valuable method of tapping funds to develop their home cities and regions.[3] It also can give many opportunities to curry favor with other important officials, with opportunities at each level.[4 ] Salaries for positions can be combined to a point as well, for greater wage compensation as an additional reward for building a political safety net.[4 ] For politicians with national ambitions, retaining a position in a local town can give them a down-to-earth aura that can appeal to voters. These advantages have made politicians very wary of reducing the practice of the cumul with legislation despite other moves to end perceptions of favoritism and corruption among politicians.[5]

The cumul is a widespread practice and has grown much more prevalent in modern France. In 1946, 36 percent of deputies in the National Assembly held an additional office.[3] By 1956, this number had already increased to 42 percent[3] and by 1970, 70 percent of deputies held an additional elected office; in 1988, 96 percent did.[3]

Many of the most prominent politicians in France make use or have made use of the cumul. Jacques Chirac served as Mayor of Paris between 1977 and 1995. During this same time, Chirac also served as a deputy in the National Assembly from Corrèze, briefly as Member of the European Parliament, and even as Prime Minister between 1986 and 1988.[4 ] Former Prime Minister Pierre Bérégovoy served concurrently as mayor of Nevers and deputy of Nièvre in the mid-1980s. There is widespread acceptance of this practice among French politicians and without legislation, the cumul is likely to continue.

Recent and current status of cumul in the French government

Lionel Jospin (Prime Minister from 1997 to 2002) imposed on his government ministers an unwritten rule of having no local office. For example, Catherine Trautmann stepped down as Mayor of Strasbourg (while remaining a member of the city council) to become Minister of Culture; conversely, Martine Aubry stepped down from the Ministry of Labour when elected Mayor of Lille in 2001. This rule was more or less upheld by Jacques Chirac during the governments of Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Dominique de Villepin for the 2002-2007 term, with a few notable exceptions (Jean-François Copé was mayor of Meaux, Nicolas Sarkozy was President of the Hauts-de-Seine General Council); for instance, Philippe Douste-Blazy had to step down from the Toulouse mayorship upon joining the government.

As of 2007, no such rule was stated for the François Fillon government: Alain Juppé, former Minister for Development was mayor of Bordeaux, and was defeated in his National Assembly constituency (a third cumulative mandate) by 50.9% to 40.1% of the votes by the Socialist candidate. Additionally, Hervé Morin, the Minister of Defense, is mayor of Épaignes, and Éric Besson, Minister of Immigration and National Identity, is the mayor of Donzère.

External links

References

  1. ^ Gidea, Robert (2002). France Since 1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. pg. 240. ISBN 0-19-219246-9.  
  2. ^ Nadeau, Jean-Benoît; Julie Barlow (2003). Sixty million Frenchmen can't be wrong : why we love France but not the French. Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks. pp. pg. 56. ISBN 1-4022-0045-5.  
  3. ^ a b c d Gildea, pg. 240
  4. ^ a b c Nadeau and Barlow, pg. 56
  5. ^ Gildea, pg. 281
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