This article is taken from the Libé special children’s authors. For the fourth year, Release puts on the colors and texts of youth for the Salon du livre de Montreuil which opens its doors on November 30th. Find all the articles ici.
There is a crowd this afternoon on the balcony of the hemicycle, where the public can sit. Women and men of all ages wisely scrutinize their representatives who, below, spread out on the red velvet bleachers, take turns asking their questions to the government. Members who take the floor are systematically applauded by the members of their political group, slightly booed by the opposing groups. Standing, in the radiant center of the hemicycle, the ministers read without much passion the answers written on their files, sometimes arousing noisy reactions, often dry reprobations. At the very top, the public does not move. Mute, he watches. As if hypnotized by this complex and timed game of postures, technical responses, measured provocations. He observes this match with the rules constantly slightly broken by the deputies (forced shouts, strong agitations, tirades to cover the one who speaks), weakly refereed by the President of the Assembly who, like every day, entered to the sound of the rolls of drum of the Republican Guard (on Tuesday, high school students filmed his arrival with their laptops). I would like us to ask them, these students, these retirees, these curious motley people from the balcony, what they think of their day at the National Assembly.
Before the questions to the government, they may have strolled (supervised by sworn personnel) in the maze of the Palais-Bourbon: tall black and shiny statues in the large empty rooms, ushers in tailcoats sliding silently between the doors, panels adorned with fake marble and marquetry, painted ceilings depicting armed hussars and strange floating magistrates. Lighted chandeliers, pendant chandeliers, chandeliers punctuating the rooms, interacting with the shine of the parquet floors and waxed tiles, all bathed in a sweet smell of honey. Visitors have their senses dazzled and, no doubt, their minds a little dizzy.
I myself feel a little lost in this living place of the Republic, of which I know practically nothing of the cogs and codes. I notice that the MP costume is worn tight at the leg and very fitted at the waist. It seems to me that the men make more of an assault on coquetry (within the narrow limit of navy blue and the tie) than the women, who play low profile; flat heels, slicked back hair, dark skirt below the knee.
The press badge I inherited for the day thanks to Release allowed me to glimpse another ballet before the great performance of questions to the government: this Tuesday morning, I attended the “press briefings” led by the representatives of the various political groups. On the morning program and in timed bursts of fifteen minutes in front of the journalists: the LFI-Nupes group, the Democratic Left and Republic group, the Liberty group, independents, overseas and territories, the socialist group, then the Les Républicains group.
From these short interventions by deputies with determined and articulate words, there emerges a general malaise: the elected representatives of the nation are tired. We would be less, when they explain to us that the days at the Assembly regularly extend beyond midnight and sometimes end at 2 or 3 am. The current situation of the Assembly, without a clear majority, without a culture of compromise between the groups, is affected by the famous recourse to 49.3 which shuts down and prohibits fruitful discussions. The result is frustration and a crying lack of highlights in the Assembly: obstruction is a strategy. A succession of small maneuvers, a shower of innocuous texts, a cruel lack of great debates of ideas. A government entrenched behind its institutional advantages to avoid learning from contact with others.
Little ego battles
Whether they have entered the Palais-Bourbon for a day or more or have never set foot there, the French feel this lack of breath and vision at the heart of our current democracy. The media are drawn into this perverse game of petty attacks, last-minute announcements, dialogue of the deaf. It’s a mess that comes from the functioning of our Fifth Republic, made for leaders and the overwhelming majority: as there is no longer an all-powerful leader or an overwhelming majority, there are only small ego battles left.
All this may also come, more deeply, from our inability to dialogue, to concede, without having the futile feeling of losing something, of being “beaten”. If we learned from school to develop arguments orally, to listen to opposing opinions and to seek healthy common ground, we would perhaps have a democratic life in a better state and more attractive to the poor abused citizens that we are. . Spending a day in the National Assembly reinforces my idea that we are a nation that is hurting itself by dint of old rigidities and macho weakness. We lack fluidity.
Anyway, you can feel all this as soon as you arrive in the neighborhood. Who takes pleasure in walking in these large avenues around the Palais-Bourbon, mineral, too large, battered by the winds? You feel bad in it, like in a garment that is too loose. Too much false greatness and not enough real circulation for beings. It’s always the same effect when I approach the National Assembly.