PoliticsDo you have to be an MP to be...

Do you have to be an MP to be appointed Prime Minister?


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French women and men will know the identity of their Prime Minister by the end of the week, the deadline for the end of Emmanuel Macron’s first term. There is a lot of speculation about who will take over as head of government, pending the legislative elections which could turn everything upside down if the presidential majority is defeated.

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Jean-Luc Mélenchon recently announced: “I am preparing myself more for the idea of ​​being Prime Minister than for the idea of ​​being a new deputy”. A position strongly criticized by the opposing parties who point the finger at the absence of the former legislative candidate. “Mélenchon claims to become Prime Minister without being elected deputy! It is an institutional and political deception because a Prime Minister of cohabitation must be the leader of the parliamentary majority, ”said historian Jean Guarrigues on Twitter.

“You can be Prime Minister without being a deputy? But yes. Of 24 prime ministers of the Fifth Republic, six were not deputies,” retorted Jean-Luc Mélenchon during the launch of the New Popular Ecologist and Social Union, while two names are actively circulating in the Marcronist ranks for this weekend: those of Marisol Touraine and Audrey Azoulay, neither of whom sits on the benches of the Assembly.


Regarding the formation of the government, the site of the National Assembly explains: “No condition governs these different choices (nothing imposes, for example, that the Prime Minister or the ministers be parliamentarians); however, the functioning of institutions and democratic practice lead the President of the Republic to choose a Prime Minister who has the support of the parliamentary majority. »

Jean-Luc Mélenchon is therefore right to assert that it is possible to be appointed head of government without being a deputy. And if he were to take on this role, he would not be the first in this case. Jean Castex is not a deputy, and never has been. Before taking office in 2020, he was mayor of Prades in the Pyrénées-Orientales for twelve years. At the same time, he held various positions, without ever sitting in the National Assembly.

He is not the only example. The first Prime Minister of the Fifth Republic, Michel Debré, was not from the ranks of the Assembly when he was appointed by Charles de Gaulle in 1959. Ditto for De Gaulle’s second Prime Minister, George Pompidou. In 1976, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing appointed Raymond Barre, then without a parliamentary mandate. Jean-Pierre Raffarin was a senator when Jacques Chirac chose him in 2002. Dominique de Villepin succeeded him in 2005, without ever having been a deputy. Then, in 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy chose François Fillon who was a senator at that time. They were therefore in reality seven Prime Ministers not to have been elected deputies previously during the Fifth Republic, and not six as claimed by the leader of La France Insoumise.

And when living together?

Three periods of cohabitation have already existed in France, when the opposition to the President won the legislative elections. The first took place from 1986 to 1988, when Jacques Chirac (RPR) was the prime minister of François Mitterrand (PS), the second during Mr. Mitterrand’s second term with Edouard Balladur (RPR), from 1993 to 1995. And the last between 1997 and 2002, with Jacques Chirac (RPR) as president and Lionel Jospin (PS) at Matignon.

These three men had been chosen from among the parliamentary majority. “They might not have been. The president can choose who he wants, but the Assembly is also free to refuse, ”explains Christian Delporte, historian specializing in political history. The exception was in 1993, when it was not the majority leader who was appointed prime minister. “It was Jacques Chirac at the time, but he refused the job. This is why it was Edouard Balladur who obtained it, ”continues the historian. But the latter was also a deputy, just re-elected.

“Generally the party leaders present themselves to the legislative elections”, affirms Christian Delporte, on the case of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. In the event that the left obtains the majority this year, Emmanuel Macron could in any case not choose the leader of the New Popular Ecological and Social Union for Prime Minister, whether the latter is a deputy or not. The Assembly could completely refuse this choice, which would force the President to reappoint someone. Emmanuel Macron could then reappoint someone who suits parliamentarians, or dissolve the National Assembly as was done in 1962 by Charles de Gaulle. The French would then have to vote again and the President of the Republic would hope, this time, to obtain the majority.


Source: 20minutes

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Janice Thomas is a content editor at 24 News Recorder. She has 5 years of journalism experience and she he is a graduate of Wittenberg University and holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.


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