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French MPs officially given permission to ditch ties and jackets

French MPs can officially wear what they want to parliament (well, within reason) after authorities put an end to an ongoing row by confirming there was no rule to make them wear ties and suit jackets.

French MPs officially given permission to ditch ties and jackets
Photo: AFP

At a meeting on Wednesday the Office of the National Assembly issued a formal reminder that there were no uniform rules for French MPs.

“The office issues a reminder that no rules exist that state the dress code for MPs. There is nothing to oblige men to wear a jacket and tie in the chamber,” read a statement.

The issue of a dress code in parliament arose after MPs wit the far left France Insoumise party sparked shock among some right wing deputies by turning up to parliament without ties or jackets.

France Insoumise MPs vehemently defended their right not to conform with Mélénchon himself comparing his MPs to the working class French Revolutionaries who were known as the “Sans Culottes”, which translates as “without trousers”.
 
“We've had the Sans Culottes, now we have the Sans Cravates (without ties),” joked Mélénchon.
 
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But members of other parties in the Assembly were not amused.
 
A spokesperson for President Emmanuel Macron's La Republique en Marche (REM) party called the move an “insult”. 
 
“Arguing that, 'we're here to represent the French working class so we're not going to wear ties', I think that it's an insult to those people,” said the spokesperson.
 
Conservative Bernard Accoyer, an ex-president of the French parliament, has weighed in, saying that it represents “a lack of respect for the French people, the voters, democracy and the institution which is at the heart of the Republic.”
 
Despite the uproar, there have been some far more dramatic cases of flouting the MPs' tradition of wearing a tie.
 
In 1985, Jack Lang, then minister for culture, sat in the French parliament wearing a Mao costume and in 1997, another MP arrived in workers overalls. 
 
The parliament office does however demand that MPs turn up in “respectable” outfits. So it's unlikely we'll see any mankinis in the National Assembly.
 
 

POLITICS

Voting rights for foreigners in France back on political agenda

Foreigners living in France could get the right to vote in certain elections if a newly-created bill passes through parliament.

Voting rights for foreigners in France back on political agenda

The newly elected president of the National Assembly’s law commission calmly lobbed a 40-year-old electoral hand-grenade into the political discourse of the summer – and then went on holiday.

Sacha Houlié, MP for the Vienne and a member of Macron’s LREM party, filed a bill on Monday that would, if passed, allow non-EU citizens living in France to vote and stand for office in local elections. 

Under current electoral legislation, only French citizens can vote in presidential and parliamentary elections; EU citizens in France can vote in local and European elections; and non-EU citizens have no voting rights in France whatsoever. 

EU citizens can also stand for office in local elections, but are barred from becoming mayor or running for a seat in the Assembly.

Since Brexit, Britons in France have not been allowed to vote in local or  local office, any many Brits who were on their local councils had to resign because they were no longer EU citizens.

Many countries limit voting for their citizens who are out of the country, so non-EU citizens living in France often do not have the right to vote in any country.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and the far-right Rassemblement National wasted little time criticising Houlié’s bill.

Darminin’s entourage said that the minister was “firmly opposed” to the idea.

The far-right party went further. “We have crossed the limits of indecency and incomprehension of what the French are asking for,” Rassemblement national spokesperson Laurent Jacobelli told Franceinfo, echoing the sentiment of the party’s interim president Jordan Bardella, who insisted the passing of the bill would mark the, “final dispossession of the French from their country”.

Houlié said: “The right to vote for European Union nationals in local elections already exists in France. No one is surprised that a Spaniard or a Bulgarian can vote in municipal elections. But it has surprised many people that the British can no longer do it since Brexit.”

Given the current shape of the Parliament in France, it seems unlikely that the latest bill will pass. But it is far from the first time it has been on the table.

François Mitterrand had pledged during his presidential campaign in 1981 to ensure “the right to vote in municipal elections after five years of presence on French territory.”

But, in the face of opposition from the right, he backed down from this particular promise. 

In October 2004, Nicolas Sarkozy, then Minister of the Interior, tried to move forward with an electoral plan that would have allowed non-EU citizens certain voting rights – but was blocked by his own UMP party.

François Hollande re-launched the proposal during his 2012 campaign, before quietly letting it go in the face of opposition from both sides of the political spectrum.

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