Thursday, April 22, 2010

Le cumul des mandats explained

Marc explains the news from France.

The cumul des mandats means elected officials holding multiple offices. It's shocking for Americans, but common in France. Here, you can run for office while already holding another office. The public say they oppose it, and recent laws have limited it, but when those members of the public enter the voting booth, they seem to have no problems with their full-time mayor also being a full-time member of a regional council and a full-time member of the national and European parliaments. Part of it is habit, part of it is status, part of it is financial calculation: having your mayor as a minister can bring pork to town, and having your mayor as an MP can be handy for getting a traffic ticket canceled.

What prompts my rant of the day is this story from 20 Minutes, in which I learn that one limitation on the cumul des mandats isn't really one. You see, there is a limit on the total compensation an elected official can earn from his offices. He can hold multiple offices, but he can only collect a limited amount of cash for doing it (he still keeps all his other benefits, office expenses, travel expenses, etc.). But according to the article, he can transfer any excess compensation over his limit to another elected official! Huh? The compensation is for doing his job, not money owed to him that he can give away to others. This is such BS. Vive la France!

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