Friday, 23 April 2010

Elect a Queen

This morning on, France Inter, Jean Pierre Rafarin (ex Premier Ministre under Chirac) and Martine Aubry (Secretary of the Socialist Party) were quoted as calling into question the idea that the President and the assembly are both elected at the same time for five years. This was a recent constitutional change, just before the 2007 Election Presidentielle, because previously the President was elected on a seven year cycle and the Assembly on five years. This often led to “La Cohabitation” with the President belonging to a different party from the Prime Minister, which was thought to be a bad idea because the Government was not able to act in a coherent and concerted way.
With the harmonisation of the two terms of office, and the personality of Sarkozy, we have a different situation. The role of the Prime Minister is reduced, whilst the role of the President is augmented. But the Assembly can’t sack the President, they can only change the Prime Minister, and changing the Prime Minister would make no difference if the President was still the same and was “hyperactif” like Sarkozy. So without proposing a solution, Sarkozy’s critics are expressing the view that “Le Quinquennat” does not work as it was intended.

But what is the answer? If France reverts to the situation as it was before, then the problems that were observed before will recur. If the terms of office of the President and the Assembly are displaced by two or three years, given the French tendency to elect alternately left and right wing governments (La Pendule), there is likely to be a permanent state of “Cohabitation” in which nothing gets done. It was Chirac who said “La France est un pays très conservatif” and perhaps I could forgive myself for thinking that this would suit the many French people who like to resist change at all levels of society and at every opportunity. “Il n’y a pas de petites luttes”!!

But I have found a solution! It is a solution which is at the same time practical, lucrative, European and which would raise the status of France in the eyes of the world. Why not elect a Queen? It would allow France to express its solidarité with the other countries of Europe who have constitutional monarchies such as Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Norway, Spain, Sweden and of course the UK. It also would solve the difficult problem of how to provide a Head of State, who would not interfere in politics, and who can’t be sacked for political reasons, because they would have no political power!
With all the beautiful French actresses that the world knows well, like Catherine Deneuve, Juliettte Binoche, Sophie Marceau, Audrey Tatou, Isabelle Adjani and others taking part, imagine the world-wide television rights! If you were prepared to take the risk you could even invite Carl Bruni to stand. But in order to preserve the essentially non-political nature of the role, one of the principal Royal candidates, Segolene, would be barred from standing.
The campaign could start with primaries in the autumn; it could have a Christmas special, and then move on to the real election in the spring between three or four candidates. You could add “Queen for a day”, in which “les francaises ordinaires“could have the opportunity to share the lives of the actresses for a day, all ending up with meeting the incumbent President and having a treasure hunt in the Elysée Palace. If France television was given the job, I am sure that the hole in the Social Security budget would be refilled, and there would be enough left over to last for the next five years!

It would have to be made clear to the candidates that the role was purely constitutional, and that it would be a five year contract (CDD Contrat Duré Déterminé) against a defined budget but, with such a high potential return, I am sure that a deal could be struck with the successful candidate which would satisfy all parties.

And then, once she was elected, the tabloid press in all European countries could have a field day digging up stories about past affairs and indiscretions and the paparazzi would make a fortune snapping topless pictures of the Queen whilst she was on holiday. It would be “la fête en permanence”.

This would then, of course, open up the role of Prime Minister to be both the head of the government and the leader of his or her party, and the Assembly would have the right to pass a vote of no confidence and change him or her whenever they wished.

Tony Blair speaks French doesn’t he, what about Helen Mirren?


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