The never-ending mano a mano between Emmanuel Macron and yellow vests betrays the flaws of the regime presidential regime to the French. According to the historian Nicolas Roussellier, author of a trial lecture on our system of government, “The power to govern” (Gallimard), the current unrest may lead, in an optimistic scenario, to a revitalization of the spirit of parliamentary stifled by the Fifth Republic. The light at the end of the tunnel ?
The Express : The great debate, and the letter of Emmanuel Macron, which accompanies it, may they be of a nature to calm the crisis ?
Nicolas Roussellier : The fact that this discussion opens while we are not in campaign period is unprecedented. The discussion can be wide and varied and, more importantly, it will not be formatted by the personalization of the presidential election, nor deflected by calculations of voting to block a particular candidate.
The weekly events of the yellow vests, who are demanding changes, without delay, constitute a strong constraint, right ?
It is clear that this debate will serve, in the eyes of power, to distinguish between those of the yellow vests who want to play the game of the most radical. But his main interest lies not in the bunch of measures that it attends her in birth at the end of two months. The important thing is the dynamics launched. The ideas of the most salient that sprang from this period of the “grievances” must then be selected and “worked”. It must be a work of acceptance and in my opinion, the best solution would be to leave it to Parliament this treatment post-debate.
even as members are very criticized for their lack of representativeness ?
The representation term is trapped. Its historical meaning and philosophical returns to parliament, gold, person, today, does not speak of the latter. The function of the representatives is not simply to bring the grievances of the people before a meeting so that they can be passed or rejected. True representation begins when the chosen one begins his “judicial” legislative work in committees, in meetings, or in the evaluation report The present moment may be just the opportunity to revive the democracy.
The treatment of the ideas put forward would be provided by parliamentary committees radically rethought in their mode of composition and their functioning. It could include representatives of civil society draw on the list of people who volunteered. It is also possible to establish them within the rule of the qualified majority of two-thirds or three-quarters of the members. This type of majority interest to require it to go to the bottom of the debate to reach a consensus.
The historian Nicolas Roussellier wrote a test reference on the presidentialism of the French, “The power of govern”
C. Hélie – Gallimard
According to you, the current crisis is less one of representative democracy, as that of our model presidential regime. Why ?
representative democracy, in reality, is dead with the advent of the Fifth Republic. The presidentialism has put an end to the parliamentary system on the very rich of the Third and Fourth Republic, based on freedom of voting and of eloquence. The act of 1905, for example, has been designed and imposed by the commission of the Chamber of deputies, under the impetus of Aristide Briand, against the executive of the time. It is the result of what I call a diagonal parliamentary : Briand, the rapporteur of the work, makes the junction between a part of the left and the centre right. The passage to the Ve, however, it is to put an end to the instability of the power with as a new argument and that, in a sense, is democracy : the people choose the captain. But it should not be wrong : the direct election of the President, and therefore the power, kills the notion of representatives.
What you call democracy executive…
Yes. The regime in which between France from 1962 and the election of the president by universal suffrage are the result of the long-arm of iron between the legislature – the Nation’s assembly – and the executive branch, won by the latter. But this democracy executive defines a strong central power, with two conditions : the State is powerful, and the administration-technocrats – is not contested by the civil society. The last element completing the “magic square” of the democracy the executive is the construction of the welfare State in its phase of social progress.
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when date-you challenge in the depth of this “hard power” ?
Of the years 2000. For a long time, the French have accepted the domination of the executive because the State had much to distribute. And then the executive “commander” has become more blurred ; it has evolved into the anglo-saxon model, by delegating to external agencies some of its previous responsibilities, for example, in the treatment of the unemployed, with the agency pôle emploi, financially self-sustaining. The State no longer had the means to ensure its redistributive role, due to the debt incurred by the 2008 crisis and the budgetary austerity.
we Are now in a crisis plan ?
I don’t think so. The institutions are in place, the mysteries of the power can always be used, as shown in Emmanuel Macron with his debate and his letter to the tone was very presidential. In addition, thisows who are protesting are not actors of the system and do not want to be. However, no revolution, historically, has never occurred without the alliance of classes and alliance players. But this is not necessarily a good news. Because the risk is the stalemate : on the one hand, a social movement of a kind original continues without end because no negotiation possible, and the other, an executive sitting on the basis of its strong institutions, but who governs in a vacuum. This is not a crisis of the regime, but it is also totally new.
The dissolution of the Assembly would be a solution ?
In my opinion, this is the last thing to do if it does not switch to the crisis regime. In this scenario, for the first time since the Fifth Republic, the election could not give absolute majority to a party. We found ourselves with a Assembly fragmented, and without the spirit of co-construction in parliamentary characteristic of the republican tradition.
is it then Necessary to renew the spirit of the parliament prior to 1958, without renouncing to a powerful executive ?
We will obviously not go back to the Third or the Fourth Republic, because we can’t afford to have a house of deputies ungovernable characterized by coalitions wavering. Our democracy executive spare us the chaos in the Italian or the belgian. We have never had, in France, two parties, as in Britain receiving alternatively the absolute majority of seats in the elections. The Fifth Republic provides the great advantage of avoiding the need to resort to two or three factions in order to govern. In a time where the policies of austerity ravaging the middle classes and where it is necessary to be able to act on the responses, it is better to be in France than in Italy. However, the weakening of parties can be a chance to see the rebirth of the freedom of conscience of deputies and the diagonal members as those of 1905.
What do you think of the Referendum of popular initiative ?
It short-circuits precisely the work of deliberation, which I mentioned, which is to construct a text, often complex, taking into account the views of minorities. In the republican tradition, which is also that of liberalism to the English, the final vote of a law should be nation by the game of a majority inclusive. The RIC is a presidentialism inverted : its outcome will be without any form of trial, permanently and vertical. Moreover, in calling for the resignation of Macron, the yellow vests are the most présidentialistes of all !
The proportional system could improve the legitimacy of the parliament ?
I do not think absolutely not. As long as you don’t come out of the shadows in the Chamber, the issues last for one minute and that the anathemas abound, a pinch of proportional representation will allow just the entry of the deputies of such or such a tendency that will, them, also, getting up on stage, without burdening the construction of new laws. There will be more of the “representativeness” as formal, but still no representation.
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*The power to govern, The executive power in France, Xixth-Xxist centuries, 848p, Gallimard, 2015