The Role and Importance of the Senate in French Politics: An Analysis of the Senatorial Elections

The Role and Importance of the Senate in French Politics: An Analysis of the Senatorial Elections

“So try to put the cap back on a pen while closing one eye, you’ll see, it’s more complicated… You can see the relief of things better with your two eyes. Well, it’s the same thing with the National Assembly and the Senate. » An anecdote that Francois Dietsch told to his public law students at the University of Metz. Another image dear to the teacher and current mayor of Val de Briey: “If the National Assembly reflects the tremor of the country, the Senate represents duration, wisdom” says Alain Poher, then president of the Senate in 1975.

Punishable by fine

And yet, who really cares about the results of the senatorial elections, held this Sunday, September 24? Already the disenchantment between the French and the electoral votes is complete, then an election where only the electors have a say… In Meurthe-et-Moselle, there were 2,090 to go to the polls, in Nancy, to fill four seats. And 2,894 in Moselle, in Metz, for five seats. “Their vote is obligatory,” stipulates François Dietsch. Under penalty of a fine of €100. »

It is an electoral body which represents “the citizens of the territories, with a more marked representation of rurality”. And again, “under the Third Republic (1870 – 1940), it was one mayor, one vote. Regardless of the size of the municipality. Which provided a conservative force not possible. »

At that time, “bicameralism was egalitarian”. In other words, “it was necessary for both chambers (or assemblies) to adopt the law in the same terms”. Blockage loomed over every text. A striking example in 1919: “The deputies voted by an overwhelming majority to give women the right to vote – they had turned the country around during the Great War – but this great momentum was blocked by a very conservative Senate. Then under the 4th and then the 5th Republic, its power weakened.”

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Today, if there is no agreement between the two chambers, it must be found in a joint committee. The last word goes to the Bourbon Palace. But with a relative majority in the National Assembly, the senators have regained a certain political weight.

Reduce the weight of the Senate

Like a refrain, “politicians wanted to reduce the weight of the Senate. Already De Gaulle, in 1969 with his referendum, wanted to merge the Economic and Social Council with the Senate by granting it only an advisory opinion. At the time, the anti-Gaullist Senate had become a refuge for the left with François Mitterrand! » The French said no to this referendum coupled with the creation of regions. This was followed by the departure of the General.

Whatever the political side, everyone has their own murderous sentence towards the Luxembourg Palace. Marine Le Pen said: “In a context of inflation of elected officials, what is the point? » Lionel Jospin, in 1998, described the institution as “an anomaly among democracies”.

In short, when the Senate is not on the side of those in power, it disturbs them. “It acts as a counterweight,” says François Dietsch. Recently, through commissions of inquiry (concerning the Benalla and Schiappa affairs), he shed light on “what went wrong”. A role that he exercises “on condition that no court is seized of the case”. Enough to improve its image among the general public.

Catherine Belrhiti: “Unity is strength”

Catherine Belrhiti, outgoing senator, retains her seat alongside Jean-Marie Mizzon and Khalifé Khalifé: “I had predicted this score. The goal was to get to three. There is strength in numbers, like in a high-level team! We had a list of competent people, it paid off. Khalifé Khalifé [médecin et ancien président du comité de surveillance du CHR Mercy, N.D.L.R.] deserves and will be a quality senator on the problem of medical deserts. »

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Catherine Belrhiti believed in it and didn’t give up, certainly helped by her experience as a competitor on the tatami mats. The former karate world champion savored this new victory by shedding a few tears. The emotion!

Jean-Marie Mizzon: “A result beyond our expectations”

Jean-Marie Mizzon, known and recognized as the leader of rural mayors of whom he was president for a long time, led a list with LR Catherine Belrhiti and Messin Khalifé Khalifé. His list is far ahead with 868 votes. “This result is beyond our expectations at the start of the campaign. As the weeks went by, we felt that our work and the choice of union, from the start, would pay off. » He said it before the election: “It was the mayors who asked us for it”. He did well to listen to them!

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