French politics

The Speaker coming from the “9-3”

Claude Bartolone, new Speaker of the French National Assembly, elected on the last Tuesday

Claude Bartolone was largely elected Speaker of the Frencch National Assembly by 289 votes in favour vs. 185 in favour of Bernard Accoyer, UMP candidate and outgoing Chairman. It is a genuine consecration for the political man and its department (Seine-Saint-Denis, located in suburbs of Paris) which massively voted for François Hollande during the presidential election. The election was surprising and even expected insofar as the former minister of City used his networks and his long presence within the French Socialist Party and the socialist group in the French Parliament to get the support of his party to be Speaker vis-à-vis Elisabeth Guigou and Jean Glavany mainly. What is more, the socialist MPs have the absolute majority within the Parliament.

The current president of the Seine-Saint-Denis local Council really wanted to be Speaker after having not been appointed in the Ayrault government. Claude Bartolone, becoming the new Chairman of the French Assembly, is the fourth personality of the French State which is a kind of revenge. Indeed, he is coming into the heart of the Hollande’s political system and is, thanks to his position, a major personality within the State. For instance, he can appoint three people to be member of the French Constitutional Court or must be consulted by the French President before the dissolution of the Parliament.

The Claude Bartolone’s election as Speaker is symbolic and a kind of revenge for the Seine-Saint-Denis department especially during these ten last years in which the “9-3[1]” (the nickname of the department) was stigmatized and caricaturized by the French Right and Nicolas Sarkozy. The Bartolone’s election must also allow changing the view on this young territory and influencing the policy led by the Left and serve as reference on the national stage.

Bartolone as Speaker is the logic consequence of more thirty years of parliamentarian life. The man is an expert of the Palais Bourbon and should be appreciated and respected by his colleagues. The skate is know if Claude will be a simple Chairman or a man which is going to guarantee the debates and the rights of the oppositions as Jean-Louis Debré, former Speaker from 2002 and 2007 and current Chairman of the French Constitutional Council. The task won’t be easy insofar as it is clear the French Socialisty Party has the absolute majority, the new Speaker will have to give some guarantees to appear as independent although he comes from the socialist movement.

[1] “93” is the administrative number of the Seine-Saint-Denis department.