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Hollande may fail over key promise

Bid to renew political blood and get rid of accumulation of political posts could fall in Senate

PRESIDENT Hollande's promise to get rid of the cumul des mandats - where politicians hold on to several elected and paid positions - could be in danger of falling at the first hurdle.

Already senators look set to vote down the project if it is put to them and several leading Socialists have spoken out against the move, along with the extreme Radicaux de Gauche.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in his official speech last week that he and Hollande wanted to "promote a renewal of the Republic and modernise its institutions" by introducing some measure of proportional representation and moving in 2014 - when the next muncipal and territorial elections take place - to ending the right to hold more than one post.

He said it was a bid to allow MPs to "concentrate on their job". The proposals are specifically against MPs or senators also holding local government posts (as Hollande himself formerly did as an MP and president of the departmental council of Corrèze).

However, the Left has a slender majority in the Senate of just six votes and already 17 senators in the Leftist Rassemblement Démocratique, Social et Européen (RDSE) have said they would vote down the plan.

RDSE president Jacques Mézard (Cantal) agreed some limits were needed but added: "How can we imagine that the Sénat - the great council of the communes of France - could be made up only of non-elected people, people with no link to the daily life of the commune?"

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Alain Vidalies has already suggested that the mayors of communes of under 3,500 residents should be exempt from the rule.

And Côte-d'Or Socialist senator François Patriat said: "The Right wants to get back into power through local councils - this is not the time to be taking away the best people. That would be shooting ourselves in the foot."

It is thought that today around 80% of MPs hold more than one job, with many being députés-maires.

The end of the cumul des mandats is seen as a way to bring fresh blood into politics at all levels, especially women, and cut down on absenteeism at the National Assembly.
Photo: Matthieu Riegler

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