Je fais écho en anglais à un billet en français, que vous pouvez lire en VO vous-mêmes.
In his post De la démocratie au Palais-Bourbon# on his blog at Ceteris Paribus, Emmanuel offers some thoughts on the role of French members of parliament and how the voting public keeps an eye on their work and votes — or rather, doesn’t.
As a political blog, Ceteris Paribus has several things going for it: Emmanuel’s posts are informed by knowledge about the polical process abroad, with frequent references to the UK, the US and the EU level; he has been doing a good job of analysing political processes from other countries for his French readership; and he isn’t gentle with any French political party, an at the same time largely avoids the all-too-common trap doing no more than deploring the weaknesses of the French political system.
But back to the note in question. Emmanuel refers to a previous post by Versac (another French political blogger) wondering why there is no organisation or web site in France that tracks the votes and attendance record of every member of parliament — a practice that is common in the US and the UK alike.
The discussion doesn’t stop here. Emmanuel, in a slightly provocative tone, explains what is, in his view, the reason for this lack of public interest, and goes into some details (my translation, for the original follow the link above):
The reason for this is very simple: there is absolutely nothing to gain from it. Except in a few rare cases, the deputies vote scrupulously along party lines. […]
The crucial point is that the freedom of action of the MPs in the UK or the senators in the US is an order of magnitude greater than what exists, at present, in France, where the majority blindly follows the government and the deputies of the opposition do nothing but abiding by the instruction they receive from the party leadership. This is the fault of the [so-called] rationalised parliamentarism that originated in the 1958 constitution and/or the cowardice of the deputies themselves, who do have significant means at their disposal to use against the government (eg, appointing inquiry committees) but only rarely use them.
[…] What is left is the parliamentary theatre, which is largely on par with the offerings on the grands boulevards, and the work — which recieves only a paltry amount of media attention but is none the less fundamental — that goes into rewriting legislative drafts.
If you read French, be sure to check out the comments on this post, which offer some ideas on how members of parliament in presidential and parliamentary systems might be more or less pushed towards developing a voting profile that might set them apart from the respective party mainstream.
: The Palais Bourbon is the seat of the French National Assembly. You can try the English version of the parliament’s web site, if you are interested in details and history.