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Proportional: the trap set for opponents…

2024-04-03 11:52:43

TRIBUNE – List voting, in a single round, proportional representation has never lacked and will never lack supporters. Most often, under the guise of justice that it is supposed to symbolize.

But, in electoral matters, everything depends on what we expect from a voting system. If it is a question of transposing a snapshot of opinion onto the benches of the National Assembly, then proportional representation is the ideal voting method, even if the polls are sufficient to measure the importance of the major political currents in the country. If it is a question of seeking a coherent majority, determined to support with its votes in the National Assembly the government appointed by the President of the Republic elected by the people, then that is a completely different matter: It is better to turn towards majority voting.

At a time when the subject is becoming topical again, how can we not see that if changing the voting method had been a priority for the government resulting from the 2017 polls, it would not have waited seven years to worry about it? Mr. Macron was, moreover, very happy to be able to count on the majority vote to have a compact majority at the Palais Bourbon from 2017 to 2022.

Certainly, from time to time, François Bayrou, champion of proportional representation, has made his little music heard to obtain from Emmanuel Macron the implementation of proportional voting. But at no time did the president of Modem threaten to break up the government coalition if he did not obtain satisfaction. The attribution of the planning commission – whose work does not shine with particular brilliance! – moreover helped him to mute his demand for respect for the 2017 commitment on the electoral law.

If the change in the voting method for the election of deputies were to be put very seriously on the table, there is no doubt that the merits of proportional representation would be celebrated on all sides. For the party leaders, and those close to them, who decide on the composition of the lists – and we see this, these days, very clearly with the preparation of the European elections – it is the assurance of election or re-election . Obviously, this method of voting is less risky than a candidacy in a constituency, where the elected official is never safe from disavowal from the electorate.

However, instead of Mr. Macron’s opponents, I would think twice, or even more, before voting for a change to the current majority vote. And, above all, I would question the calendar as well as the political context: is it not simply a maneuver cleverly orchestrated by the President of the National Assembly with a view to deadlines with uncertain results?

Between now and June 9, it is unlikely that the National Assembly will end the current legislature by adopting a motion of censure, which normally means returning to the voters. But, while the truth has just come to light about the catastrophic state of our public accounts, thehypothesis of government censorship is raised regarding the finance law for 2025, which will be discussed before Parliament in the fall of 2024.

Censorship of the government – if we refer only to the precedent of 1962 – would lead to the dissolution of the National Assembly and the organization of early legislative elections. With the majority vote, and given the level of unpopularity of the Head of State, the rout is assured for the power in place, and Emmanuel Macron could hardly remain in office, the people having put an end to the contract of confidence of the presidential election. But the result of legislative elections with proportional representation, or with a mixed ballot, would be very different. Even defeated, and since no majority would have emerged from the polls, the President of the Republic could ensure his survival and complete his mandate, come what may, with a government of cohabitation.

This is exactly how François Mitterrand was able to remain in power after his defeat in the legislative elections of 1986, full proportional representation having cushioned the shock, and…get re-elected two years later. This situation has certainly not escaped the attention of Macronie dignitaries.

Another deadline, certain, and even more important, as it is the key election of our Republic: the presidential election of 2027. Of course, three years separate us from that. But there is no room for doubt: in the calamitous situation, in so many respects, which is that of our country, the new holder of the supreme office will have the greatest need of a solid majority in the National Assembly to ensure the recovery of France. And it is certainly not proportional representation – the twelve years of the Fourth Republic are there to attest to this – which will bring it.

For reasons of substance and opportunity, Mr. Macron’s opponents would therefore be well advised to leave the institutions in peace. They will need it the most after 2027, or before. It was not they who failed, but the women and men in power, who showed their true nature over time: great sayers and little doers.

Alain Tranchant, founding president of the Association for a referendum on the electoral law

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