Far Away, So Close: Parliament and Citizens in France

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This article accounts for the paradoxical relationship between French citizens and their MPs. It is well known that the French chambers are among the weakest in Europe since the Constitution of the Fifth Republic restricts their role. The French chambers also suffer from their reputation in the public's opinion, as repeated survey results show. Therefore, despite great efforts to communicate, the National Assembly and the Senate have not succeeded in raising citizens' interest or confidence in their activities. However, at the same time, the representative link in France is characterised by MPs' personal involvement in their constituency which is strengthened by specific institutional incentives (electoral rules, accumulation of mandates, weakness of parties, etc.). Using diverse sets of data, including a survey of French députés' opinions and attitudes, this article provides a picture of contrasting features which are still part of today's debate about parliament.

Keywords: France; legislatures; parliament and citizens; political representation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13572334.2012.706046

Affiliations: 1: Centre Emile Durkheim, University of Bordeaux, France 2: Sciences Po Bordeaux, < xmlns:xlink="" xlink:href="">p.lefebure@sciencespobordeaux.fr, Email: p.lefebure@sciencespobordeaux.fr, URL: http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink p.lefebure@sciencespobordeaux.fr, Email: p.lefebure@sciencespobordeaux.fr, URL: http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink "> 3: Sciences Po, Centre d'Études Europénnes, Paris,< xmlns:xlink="" xlink:href="">olivier.rozenberg@sciences-po.fr, Email: olivier.rozenberg@sciences-po.fr, URL: http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink olivier.rozenberg@sciences-po.fr, Email: olivier.rozenberg@sciences-po.fr, URL: http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink "> 4: Centre Emile Durkheim, University of Bordeaux, < xmlns:xlink="" xlink:href="">t.schnatterer@sciencespobordeaux.fr, Email: t.schnatterer@sciencespobordeaux.fr, URL: http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink t.schnatterer@sciencespobordeaux.fr, Email: t.schnatterer@sciencespobordeaux.fr, URL: http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink "> 5: Centre Emile Durkheim, University of Bordeaux, < xmlns:xlink="" xlink:href="">e.kerrouche@sciencespobordeaux.fr, Email: e.kerrouche@sciencespobordeaux.fr, URL: http://www.w3.org/1999/xlinke.kerrouche@sciencespobordeaux.fr, Email: e.kerrouche@sciencespobordeaux.fr, URL: http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink">

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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