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End of dual mandate for French parliamentary officials

media Panorama of the French National Assembly floor, September 2009. Wikimedia Commons/CC/Richard Ying & Tangui Morlier

A law that took effect on Friday will prevent parliamentary officials from simultaneously holding multiple offices at different levels of government.

It’s the end of an era for France’s “député-maire,” or “mayor-MP”. On Friday 31 March, two laws that were passed in 2014 took effect, thereby preventing members of parliament (MPs), senators, and European MPs from holding two elected offices at once.

This means that elected officials who hold the positions of both mayor and MP, for example, will now have to choose between the two.

According to French daily Libération, roughly one-third of senators in France are also mayors, serving in both positions simultaneously. A similar number of MPs are mayors as well, some 30 percent as of January.

This number is bigger, however, when you take into account MPs and senators that occupy not only mayoral offices, but also those of departmental council president or regional council president. In 2012, 45 percent of MPs and 48 percent of senators were concerned, according to the French government.

However, parliamentary officials will still be able to serve as municipal or regional advisors in non-executive roles.

What’s next for France’s mayor-MPs

Elected officials with dual mandates will have a few weeks to plan their next move.

With upcoming legislative elections in June, MPs will have to decide whether they want to re-run – and possibly lose – to keep their parliamentary seat, or whether they will step down and maintain their municipal position. The latter would be a safer bet on more time in office, as the next municipal elections aren’t until 2020.

However, MPs and senators are paid at least 2,000 euros a month more than most mayors and municipal officials.

Proponents of the law say that it will help fight corruption and fraud, while opponents say that such a provision increased access to funding for mayors and municipal officials from smaller towns.

France is the European country with the highest rate of dual mandates, according to the French government, with more than 40 percent of MPs and senators simultaneously occupying multiple elected offices.

In Italy, the European country with the second highest rate, some 16 percent of parliamentary officials also hold local executive positions. In Spain 15 percent of parliamentary officials are concerned, compared to 13 percent in the United Kingdom and 10 percent in Germany.

The legislation to get rid of dual mandates was championed by President François Hollande, who had promised to put an end to the accumulation of mandates during his campaign. The bill was ultimately passed two years after his election in 2014, and after months of parliamentary debate.

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