National Assembly: the questions to the government will make new skin

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Did she know she would attend a near-last? The young climate activist Greta Thunberg was present in the National Assembly on Tuesday afternoon, during questions to the government. This is the last time before the summer holidays that MPs have taken advantage of this forum, political as well as media. And in its current form, because a mini-revolution is expected in September, as part of the reform of the Assembly!

Since 1983, these "QAGs" have been the perfect moment for any member who wishes to publicize a subject. Every Tuesday and every Wednesday, for at least an hour, members have the opportunity to question a minister, or even the head of government himself. "Contrary to popular belief, the French love politics. And they like questions to the government, "says Richard Ramos, MP MoDem.

This moment is often theatrical, sometimes even bordering the general hubbub. For years, it is remembered especially for the basket of races released by LFI deputies in July 2017, or the song of the Montagnards sung by Jean Lassalle in 2003 to cover the voice of Sarkozy. "I assume! "Says Alexis Corbière, one of seventeen elected Jean-Luc Mélenchon's team. "It's a romper and a catharsis. This is the only way to put the spotlight on a problem that could go unnoticed, "adds Gilbert Collard (National Rally), who scrapped several times with Manuel Valls under the previous five years. This lawyer by profession has just left the Chamber, with his election to the European Parliament.

Broadcast on TV

The questions to the government, broadcast live on television (on France 3, then on LCP since 2017), are sometimes the only moment of parliamentary life that connects the inhabitants to their elected officials. "On the ground, many say to me 'we saw you, you talked or did not listen to the answer'", smiles Jerome Nury, MP LR. But the schoolyard show has annoyed many. And the reminders to the rules of the chairman of the meeting are not always enough to calm the most chaotic elected officials.

Three measures have been taken to modernize these QAGs, starting next October (the current system will remain in place during the special session in September, "the time to settle with the Senate", says one to the Assembly). Finished the two weekly sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday: everything will be gathered on Tuesday afternoon, over a longer period. "Wednesday's session allowed to interrogate the government hot on the announcements made in the Cabinet in the morning," already regret the communist Andre Chassaigne, seventeen years of deputation on the clock.

"Oppositions are given new rights"

Another novelty, long sought by some elected officials: the right of reply. Clearly, once the minister has responded, the hon. Member will be able to speak again … provided he has not lost all of his two-minute speaking time with his question. This is already the case in the Senate at the Thursday meeting. "It will make the session more dynamic", rejoices André Chassaigne in advance. His colleague Alexis Corbière is more reserved: "1m30 for the question and 30 seconds for the answer, it does not change the face of the world. And it's complicated to make a high-flying recovery! ".

The opposition is also awarded two thirds of the 26 questions, against half of the 30 questions so far. "Oppositions are given new rights," argues Sylvain Waserman, rapporteur (MoDem) of the new regulation.

If they are attached to these "QAGs", MEPs agree on one point: they do not have much impact on substantive issues. "Especially if we use them to play the shoes and put forward a minister," squeaks a elected majority. The government often seeks to know the issues in advance, which removes the spontaneity of the exercise. "At least there will be a little more balance between the issues of the majority telephoned and others," says Jérôme Nury, admitting that the oppositions are sometimes also "a little caricatural".

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