Ending the presidential election? Never!

It is to believe that our intellectuals are so lacking in imagination that, faced with a contemporary problem, they look for solutions in the past rather than imagining the future. “It was better before” seems to have become their mantra. On the question of institutions, the left, or what remains of them (Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Arnaud Montebourg…), with its project of “VIe Republic”, has just received the unexpected reinforcement of a liberal intellectual, Gaspard Koenig, which claims neither more nor less the abolition of the election of the president by universal suffrage. And this, on the grounds that the Republic was more beautiful – not under the Empire but – under the IIIe… Here is what will make the French dream!

So, without being ironic, let’s take a closer look.

We agree at least on the observation: our institutions, since the election of the president by universal suffrage and the reduction of his mandate to five years, are deeply unbalanced. The indisputable legitimacy given to the president by the popular vote makes him the real head of the executive. The thing would go without difficulty if the Parliament were able to exert a true counter-power.

He is prevented from doing so because, if the President has an absolute majority in the National Assembly, the latter is reduced to the role of a recording chamber, and if he no longer has such a majority as today oday, the Constitution gives the executive the means to make parliamentarians bend (article 49.3, dissolution, etc.). It will be objected that the Assembly can, for its part, censure the government, but this weapon is a wooden saber because the real chief executive is no longer at Matignon but at the Élysée.

A censure only obliges the president to reappoint a government which may be virtually unchanged. In truth, the “Ve Republic bis” on which we have lived since 1962 is a regime of confusion of powers which would attract the wrath of Montesquieu. If we add to this the obsolescence of the referendum, which had the merit of directly bringing into play the responsibility of the president before the people who elected him, we can understand the frustration of the French and their growing disinterest in political life.

However, the remedies proposed by the supporters of the “VIe République» and a fortiori by Gaspard Koenig are totally unrealistic. History never goes back. To imagine that, by a “strict reading” of the 1958 Constitution, one could restore the power of Parliament and confine the President to the role of arbiter is a chimera: elected directly by the French, the President is and will remain de facto the chief executive, bearer of the project on which he was brought to power and guarantor of its realization.

Never mind: let’s abolish the election of the president by universal suffrage! slips Gaspard Koenig, and let’s return to an indirect designation by a college of elected officials, as in the good old days… Let’s be serious! No one will take away from the French the right to participate in the only election in which they are still interested today.

What to do then? Faced with the president, the undisputed head of the executive, we need an independent and powerful parliament. To remedy the confusion of powers, let’s dare the separation of powers! Let’s face it, only a “presidential” regime is likely, at the point where we are, to ensure this balance of powers. The paradox is only apparent: the “presidential” regime is a strong parliamentary regime, because the assemblies are totally independent of the executive, freely vote on laws, the budget and control the administration, without risk to stability. of the government, which they cannot overthrow, and without risk to themselves, in the absence of the right of dissolution.

Let’s not minimize the crisis of our representative democracy. Inaction, on the fallacious pretext that our constitution […] has demonstrated its solidity, would be at fault.

On the other hand, in a “parliamentary” regime, the Assembly is in the hands of its majority, which has delegated its leader to head the government, with the obligation to support it, on pain of provoking a government crisis. It is a structurally “weak” parliamentary regime.

It will be objected that a presidential regime can result in the blocking of public action in the event of an irremediable disagreement between the president and Parliament. There are precedents. But let’s put the criticism into perspective: in most cases, disagreements are settled through dialogue and negotiation between the two powers. After all, aren’t consultation and the art of compromise virtuous in a democracy?

The implications of such a reform are well known: abolition of the post of Prime Minister, of the motion of censure, of the right of dissolution, of the “legislative” referendum on the presidential initiative and of the binding mechanisms of “rationalized parliamentarism” (blocked voting, article 49.3, government control of the agenda, etc.).

The icing on the cake: this new institutional framework would facilitate the implementation of another reform, always promised and never carried out, the introduction of proportional representation for the election of deputies, for example on the German model. If we can understand the reluctance of those who want to preserve the majority fact in a system that remains parliamentary, this constraint would naturally be loosened if we opt for a system of separation of powers.

Let’s not minimize the crisis of our representative democracy. Inaction, on the fallacious pretext that our constitution, which has celebrated its seventieth anniversary, has demonstrated its solidity, would be faulty. After all, our Basic Law has been amended twenty-four times since it was passed. The marble is a little worn.

Source: Slate.fr by www.slate.fr.

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