Debate at La Croix: Of what use is the senate?

La Croix has recently had an interview with Loïc Blondiaux about the idea of an allotted senate. A few days later, La Croix published two more pieces on this subject, one supporting the idea and one opposing it, under the title “Of what use is the senate?”.

Here is a translation of the ‘in-favor’ side of the debate. A translation of the ‘against’ side will be published in the upcoming days.

Fatou Tall : “The time has come for a citizen senate”.

Fatou Tall is a lawyer and a member of the Citizen senate collective.

What is useful is the bicameralism which divides Parliament into two distinct chambers. Within this framework we consider the way to respond to what appears to be currently a real emergency: revitalising our democracy, “radicalizing democracy”, to use the words of the constitutional scholar Dominique Rousseau. The senate seems to be the appropriate tool for introducing a citizen assembly and the mechanism of sortition at a time when many are questioning the appointment of senators via indirect elections. The idea is therefore to make the senate a chamber of allotted citizens which would be charged with co-creation of the law in concert with the National assembly, as is now the case.

This profound reform would put the citizen back at the center of our institutions and revive article 2 of our constitution which declares that the principle of our republic is “the government of the people, by the people and for the people”. The citizen senators would be drawn from all the regions of France, because this chamber as we conceive it, would be the as representative as possible of the French population. At each local level there would be citizen assemblies that would maintain constant dialog with the citizen senate.

It is not a matter of calling into question the quality of the work of the senators, but to counter the powerful political myth according to which our representatives (senators, as well as other deputies) are wiser and more competent than the “ordinary citizen”. Every citizen is capable of handling political questions, as complex as they may be, as long as they spend the time required for the education necessary to carry out their role as representatives of the nation well. Our current representatives are not experts, at the outset, on the subjects which they have to handle. In order to overcome their lack of knowledge on this or that given subject, they can count on the help of their assistants and consult with experts…

These are all resources, technical and human, that we wish to put at the disposal of the allotted citizens in order to empower them, like our current representatives, to handle all the subjects that are submitted to their approval. These aim to give the allotted representatives real power, similar to that of our current senators, which would allow them to fully undertake their mission. It is for this reason that we attach great importance to the quality of the education that is provided to them, in order to make the best use of their term of service, which is envisaged as being two years long.

Compiled by Béatrice Bouniol

2 Responses

  1. […] pieces under the title “Of what use is the senate?”. A translation of one of those pieces is here. Below is a translation of the opposing […]


  2. […] Bouniol has been showing some interest in sortition in her stories at La Croix. Last November, on the occasion of the publishing of a new book on the […]


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