France to cut number of lawmakers by 30 percent | News | DW | 04.04.2018
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France to cut number of lawmakers by 30 percent

New legislation will reduce the number of politicians and see the partial introduction of proportional representation. The changes are aimed at restoring French voters' confidence in the political class.

French President Emmanuel Macron appears to be making made good on a campaign promise by drawing up legislation that would cut the number of lawmakers by 30 percent.

The reforms were announced on Wednesday by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who said the measures would speed up the lawmaking process and give underrepresented groups more of a voice in the National Assembly.

The plans, which would need to be approved by both houses, would prevent lawmakers and most mayors from holding office more than three times in a row. Only mayors from towns of less than 9,000 inhabitants would be allowed to remain longer, Philippe tweeted.

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Their backing is by no means certain, as many conservative politicians have denounced the plans.

Philippe added that the measures would include the introduction of proportional representation for 15 percent of National Assembly seats in the 2022 legislative election.

The announcement follows weeks of negotiations between Macron's government and the head of the opposition-controlled Senate.

A special court composed mainly of politicians, which tries cases against ministers for offenses allegedly committed while exercising their functions, is to be abolished. Instead, serious cases would be heard by the Paris Court of Appeals.

"These bills will contribute to a deep renovation of political and parliamentary life, in a spirit of responsibility, representation and efficiency," Phillippe said.

Read more: French workers to take to streets as Macron plots next cuts

Currently, the National Assembly is made up of 577 deputies, while 348 senators sit in the indirectly elected upper house. Both houses would see a reduced number of sitting politicians.

Will it tackle voter resentment?

The French electorate has grown increasingly frustrated at their political elite, who have failed to pass painful economic and political reforms, and at the same time are often seen as distant and self-serving.

Massive voter dissatisfaction allowed Macron to come from nowhere to face off with far-right National Front party candidate Marine Le Pen in last spring's presidential election, which he went on to win after promising sweeping reforms.

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mm/bw (Reuters, dpa)

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