France’s National Assembly passes a law to "moralize politics" in the wake of the Fillon affair. Cheating is to become more difficult.
Not without my wife? Not with Macron. Some family members of politicians are now losing their jobs Photo: reuters
New rules apply in the French parliamentary business. They are intended to avoid conflicts of interest and clientelism and to restore trust in politics. The new majority in the National Assembly has thus implemented one of President Emmanuel Macron’s most important election promises right at the start. Economic reforms and painful austerity decisions are not on the agenda until after the summer break.
The cleanliness and transparency in politics now prescribed by law has met with broad approval in society. But not everyone is applauding. Eloise Favennec loses her job because of the adoption of the laws on the "moralization of politics". For nine years she had been a parliamentary assistant to her husband, who has just been re-elected as a deputy in the Mayenne department. "I had a job that I did well and honestly," she says.
In her opinion, the new rules prohibiting the employment of relatives and dependents as employees go much too far. She considers herself a "collateral victim of the Fillon affair." For many years, conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon had paid his wife Penelope as an assistant with public funds for a collaboration whose reality is in doubt. Such practices were common in France, but today they shock.
At the same time, the law stipulates that politicians no longer have funds from the parliamentary coffers to distribute as they see fit for local subsidies. At last count, deputies and senators had spent 130 million euros on this often questionable financing of associations. This was considered a form of clientelism.
Majority after chaotic debate
In addition, the deputies must provide receipts for the expense allowance. Previously, they received a lump sum. Those convicted of crimes or dishonorable offenses as politicians also lose eligibility for a period determined by the judge. This additional penalty would also affect incitement to racial hatred, discrimination or insults based on sexual orientation. Only in part, on the other hand, parallel activities of members of parliament as consultants during their mandate were prohibited in order to avoid possible conflicts of interest.
This legislation was passed by a clear majority. Nevertheless, the vote was preceded by what the opposition called a "chaotically organized" debate. The media also criticized how amateurish many of the new members of the National Assembly apparently still were. In protest over the poor management of the debate and the treatment of the opposition, the conservatives of Les Republicains and the leftists of France insoumise (FI) had repeatedly left the council chamber.
"Since we are disturbing you, you can continue to debate among yourselves!" shouted FI faction leader Jean-Luc Melenchon ironically at the disunited deputies from La Republique en marche (REM). The Secretary of State for Parliament, Christophe Castaner, has already given the newcomers to his parliamentary group homework for the summer break to study the regulations of the National Assembly.