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Réduire le nombre de députés en France métropolitaine. Quel mode d’affectation, pour quelle représentation nationale ?

Abstract : The purpose of this paper is to explore the possible implications for national representation and for the principle of vote equality, of the 2018 constitutional National Assembly reform project. This could, among other changes, lead to a 30% decrease in the number of national parliamentarians in France (i.e. from 577 to 404). The study does not follow the classic lines of electoral geography, which generally deals with gerrymandering, spatial analysis of the vote, or its explanation using sociodemographic or geographic variables. Our objective is rather to identify and, applying spatial analysis and political science, understand the potential impacts of a decrease in the number of MPs (Members of Parliament) on national representation. Using GIS analyses, we first demonstrate that the present electoral boundaries produce major inequalities in population and territory representation. For example, with the current 577 MPs the inhabitants of certain legislative districts are better represented, as they are up to 2.34 times less numerous in designating their local MP. Moreover, the size of the current constituencies can vary from 3 to 5589 km². With the planned decrease in the number of MPs, the issue is to know if it will widen these demographic and territorial representation inequalities. As the way to allocate the new 404 MPs in the national territory has not been defined yet, we explore the impacts of different allocation methods which more or less take into account the current constraints for the definition of electoral boundaries (for example the fact that each “department” must have a parliamentary seat). More particularly, the two classic paradigms for allocating seats are compared: the largest remainder method, and the highest averages or Sainte-Laguë method. The first, based on proportionality, is enshrined in the French Constitution, while the second is based on a divisor method. We show how these two approaches do not target the same objective, and how their impacts on representation differ. The study shows that a reduction in the number of MPs is not a simple mathematical problem, but involves complex historical relationships between demography and democracy. It gives rise to inevitable questions concerning the very notion of political representation. Simulations have pointed out that it is very difficult to attain equitable representation for both populations and territories if the current principles of political representation are maintained in the representative democracy model. In order to limit inequalities in representation, the reduction in the number of MPs must be accompanied by rule modifications to enable greater flexibility in the allocation process, in particular by preferring a regional rather than departmental allocation for MPs. The paper concludes that it is mandatory to take current changes in lifestyles (such as dual residence) and political participation (abstention) into account when addressing the issue of representation. This is particularly important in the light of decision making for the future implementation of electoral boundaries within regions.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, March 30, 2021 - 2:55:58 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, June 16, 2021 - 12:38:02 PM

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Cyrille Genre-Grandpierre, Guillaume Marrel, Mathieu Coulon. Réduire le nombre de députés en France métropolitaine. Quel mode d’affectation, pour quelle représentation nationale ?. L'Espace Politique, OpenEdition Journals, 2020, ⟨10.4000/espacepolitique.7353⟩. ⟨hal-03173573⟩

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