Macron wants institutional reform, proposes trans-partisan convention

With just a few days left before Macron faces off Le Pen in the final election round, now would be the time to outline his vision of the country's institutions in the future. EPA-EFE/Mohammed Badra [EPA-EFE/Mohammed Badra]

French President Emmanuel Macron wants to hold a trans-partisan convention that will debate and decide on institutional reform, possibly including an overhaul of the country’s entire election schedule, if he is reelected in a run-off vote on 24 April. EURACTIV France reports.

Macron came in first on 10 April, followed by far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, and the two will face off in a second round of voting on 24 April.

The incumbent president did not specify what form this convention might take, but given the “transpartisan” aspect, it could be that representatives of political parties, movements and intermediary bodies will be involved.

Macron said he wishes to “renovate our institutions” by relying on a broad consultation, he stated in a press conference where he presented his programme on 17 March.

The president also said he wants to “strengthen parliament’s control missions” and clarify “the terms and rules of political responsibility”.

While they have different ideas on the implementation, both Le Pen and far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who finished third on 10 April, also agree that change is needed.

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Proportional representation

Better representation in parliament is among Macron’s objectives.

The legislative elections, currently held on a majority basis, for example, should include a dose of proportional representation, according to the president.

The government has already carried out a reform project of this kind during its current five-year term, but it failed due to a lack of political consensus.

This proposal is favoured by most other political parties, including MoDem, Rassemblement National and La France Insoumise, as well as the Yellow Vest movement.

No changes should happen before the upcoming parliamentary election on 12 June.

A ‘different calendar’ is needed

According to Macron, the election schedule also needs a makeover, he told weekly Le Point in an interview. Presidential and legislative elections are currently back-to-back every five years.

During that period, the European elections of 2024 and the municipal ones of 2026 are the only elections that give citizens a chance to vote.

“The fact of not having a democratic breathing space for five years is no longer adapted to our times,” Macron said in the same interview.

To remedy this, Macron proposes a series of “reflections” on institutional reforms that will likely be submitted to the transpartisan convention mentioned in his programme.

A seven-year term?

Macron has also suggested returning to the seven-year term that was in place until Jacques Chirac was re-elected for a second presidential term in 2002. According to Macron, the current five-year period is “undoubtedly too short for a presidential term in France”.

Macron suggested “something like mid-term elections, like in the United States” could work in France.

As for whether the mandate is renewable or not, Le Pen wants to introduce a seven-year non-renewable term, while Macron wants to let the people decide.

Contacted by EURACTIV France, Macron’s campaign team said that these are not commitments included in his programme, but personal positions. Since a convention should be held on this subject, it would be “contradictory” for the president to make promises on certain points that the convention should be addressing.

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[Edited by Alice Taylor/Zoran Radosavljevic]

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