Chirac places power of parliament centre stage
Saturday 20 May 1995
Mr Chirac called for the changes in a message conveyed to special sessions of the two houses of parliament yesterday. The constitution does not permit a president to address parliament in person, so his speech was read out by Philippe Seguin in the National Assembly and Rene Monory in the Senate.
Most members of the new government, including the Prime Minister, Alain Juppe, were in the National Assembly chamber with the MPs to hear that in the President's view the balance of power had tipped too far in the government's favour and needed to be tilted back towards parliament.
Mr Chirac's proposed constitutional changes are a provision to allow wider use of referendums, and another to change the parliamentary session from a maximum five and a half months a year to a continuous nine-month session. The President had promised the first during his election campaign as a means of tackling the "democratic deficit". The second is seen partly as a concession to Mr Seguin, who has long advo- cated a single, longer session.
On the need to balance the powers of the presidency, the executive and the legislature, Mr Chirac was definite: "The president presides, the government conducts the policy of the nation, and parliament is the expression of the people's will, a control on the government, and a forum where the direction of national policy is debated."
Mr Chirac said there was no longer sufficient clarity about what each branch should do, and this had reduced effectiveness.
He also proposed a requirement that all draft legislation submitted to parliament by the government be accompanied by a report setting out the likely cost and social implications; a provision for the recodification of existing laws to make them simpler and accessible to all; and a citizen's charter, monitored by parliament, to improve the quality of public services.
In a move that suggests Brussels and Paris will no longer be quite so closely identified with each other as they were, Mr Chirac proposed changes to the working of parliament to enable it to take a more detailed look at legislation issuing from the European parliament.
As in all his statements as President, Mr Chirac stressed that his absolute priority was to reduce unemployment, and directed parliament to subordinate all its work to that end.
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...