France is one of the countries of the world where elected officials, particularly parliamentarians, are most often re-elected. And one of the few countries where an elected official, once defeated, does not change profession completely and permanently while waiting for future elections to try his luck again.
The consequences are dire indeed: the political class is aging; the right is turning to the most rancid conservatism; the left remains with the weakest defense architecture from past centuries. In order to 'stay in business' all are content to please the most vocal and most firmly rooted pressure groups in their constituencies, without regard for the general interest of the country, and still less for that of future generations. And when these elected officials resign themselves to leaving politics after three, four or five terms, those in the best position to take over their roles, at least in the candidacies, are their alternates and parliamentary attachés, who are beginning to populate in numbers Assembly and Senate.
Other tragic consequences of this tension: very few women sit in Parliament, despite quota rules, devoted solely to candidacies; and because of the lack of political opportunities in the ruling parties, young people who want to be in politics surrender to the siren voices of the far right, which alone provides them with constituencies, not by ideological choice, but by availability. And if we are not careful, it is by that means and that means alone that revival will come.
To address this issue, it would simply be necessary to pass a legislation introducing a two-term limit for any members of Parliament.
Political life would be turned around: more than half of the current members of Parliament would go away. And none of the newcomers could be, either, a former parliamentarian having already served two terms before being defeated.
It would become clear that the status of deputy or senator does not offer a career, being just a transition in one's life. And if, in addition, it ensures that private sector employees who would take the risk would be able to return back to their jobs, Parliament's decisions and composition would be of a different nature than today; political life would regain its sense of purpose.
Elected officials will argue that they have no time to think about it, having other emergencies. This argument is worthless. They can do this. Right away. And even if they did not really have the time, they could do things differently: any member of the French Parliament finishing his second term could already indicate his intention not to stand in the French legislative election and Senate election in 2017. All political parties should make a commitment right now not to let a deputy or a senator who has already served two terms run for re-election, whether an outgoing or former elected official attempting a comeback after a defeat.
And in order not to replace deputies and senators by their current substitutes, parliamentary assistants or by the bosses of local parties, they should even organize, right now, and choose the next and therefore the new candidates, for primary local elections as they will exist in the presidential election; primary elections that are not strictly reserved for members of parties, but extended to all supporters.
Then the same principle should apply in all elections: municipal, departmental, regional, at least until one of these levels is removed.
Will current parliamentarians dare to vote this way? Not at all. Neither before nor after the next presidential election: the last privileges these elected officials will call into question will be their own privileges, and the night of 4 August will not emerge overnight.
So we remain stuck, without solutions, because today any reform of the constitution, in any area whatsoever, requires the concurrence of the parliamentarians. And they are unlikely to have the courage of Italian senators, who will end up voting their own demise! This makes many other reforms impossible, such as the reduction in the number of deputies or senators and the number of municipalities.
Then we will have to consider other means to change the constitution without the agreement of those whose interests are at stake. With current law, and to this end there is nothing left but the coup d'Etat, as in 1958. Will elected officials act responsibly enough to help the country avoid this?