Cumul des mandats

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The cumul des mandats (French: [kymyl dɛ mɑ̃da], lit. accumulation of mandates) is the French equivalent of the dual mandate in other countries. It is a political practice particularly common in France (as well as Belgium), in comparison to other Western countries.[1] It consists of simultaneously holding two or more elective offices at different levels of government — local, regional, national and European — as mayors, MPs, senators, Members of the European Parliament, and President of the General Council in their home regions.[2] Sometimes, officials hold as many as four positions.[3] While officials may not be elected to more than one office at the same level (such as being both an MP and a senator), they may hold offices in any combination at the municipal, departmental, regional, national and European levels.

The cumul des mandats is controversial in France, being accused of fostering absenteeism and cronyism.

Conditions regarding multiple mandates in France[edit]

Multiple mandates at the legislative level

Parliamentary mandates are incompatible with each other:

A member from one of the above assemblies can not combine its mandate with more than one of the following mandates :

  • Member, vice-president or president of a General Council
  • Member, vice-president or president of a Regional Council
  • Councillor, deputy-mayor, or mayor of a commune of more than 3,500 inhabitants
  • Councillor of Paris (The "Council of Paris" is at the same level a municipal council and a general council, because Paris has a special status, Municipality and Département at the same level)
  • Councillor in the Corsican Assembly (Corse has a regional special status)

Exceptions: They can hold a third office in a town of less than 3,500 inhabitants.

They may also hold a third office as a councillor, vice-president or president of an Urban community, an Agglomeration community or a Communauté de communes, as these terms are elected by indirect universal suffrage, by municipal councils from among the councillors.

For example, a member of the National Assembly has the right to be general/regional councillor or President of a regional/general council. They cannot hold a third office unless they are the mayor, deputy mayor or municipal councillor of a city of less than 3,500 inhabitants.

Currently, 87% of members of the National Assembly and 74% of senators have one or several local mandates.

The accumulation of local mandates

They cannot have more than two local mandates.

The following mandates are incompatible each other:

For example, an elected official cannot be mayor and President of the Regional Council. However, all other local mandates are cumulative. A mayor can also be a general councillor and a president of a Regional Council can also be deputy-mayor of a city.

Exceptions are the same as those for parliamentarians (Cities of less than 3,500 inhabitants and the intercommunalities)

The accumulation of mandates and governmental functions

The MP-mayor of Belfort and the Cédric Perrin (fr) senator-mayor of Beaucourt at a ceremony in 2014

A member of the French government cannot be a member of any assembly. However, he may retain any local mandate he or she holds. A cabinet minister can exercise a maximum of two local mandates in addition to his or her government function.

For example, the Prime Minister, a Minister or Secretary of State can be mayor, or President of a general, regional or intercommunal council or sit in one of these assemblies.

Currently, over two-thirds of the members of the French government are engaged in one or two more local mandates.

Purpose and frequency[edit]

The purpose of holding multiple offices are multiple. Holding a seat in the Senate, National Assembly, or European Parliament gives local mayors a valuable method of tapping funds to develop their home cities and regions.[4] It also can give many opportunities to curry favor with other important officials, with opportunities at each level.[5] Salaries for positions can be combined to a point as well, for greater wage compensation as an additional reward for building a political safety net.[5] For politicians with national ambitions, retaining a position in a local town can give them a down-to-earth aura that can appeal to voters. These advantages have made politicians very wary of reducing the practice of the cumul with legislation despite other moves to end perceptions of favoritism and corruption among politicians.[6]

It is common practice in France since the French Third Republic (1870). But there are also many cases of "cumul" before this period, for example, the writer Alexis de Tocqueville was a member from 1839 to 1851. In 1849 he was appointed Foreign Affairs minister, and at the same time he was elected President of the General Council of Manche from 1849 to 1851 (councillor from 1842 to 1852). There are several reasons for this phenomenon, and one of them is that France has a long tradition of centralization, on the contrary of countries such as Germany, Italy, and Spain. Local governments have less power and skills than that the "Länder" of Germany, or "Autonomous Communities" of Spain. The local mandates in France are less important than in other countries, politicians have more time to devote to a parliamentary mandate.

The cumul is a widespread practice and has grown much more prevalent in modern France. In 1946, 36 percent of deputies in the National Assembly held an additional office.[4] By 1956, this number had already increased to 42 percent[4] and by 1970, 70 percent of deputies held an additional elected office; in 1988, 96 percent did.[4]

Many of the most prominent politicians in France make use or have made use of the cumul. Jacques Chirac served as Mayor of Paris between 1977 and 1995. During this same time, Chirac also served as a deputy in the National Assembly from Corrèze, briefly as Member of the European Parliament, and even as Prime Minister between 1986 and 1988.[5] Former Prime Minister Pierre Bérégovoy served concurrently as mayor of Nevers and deputy of Nièvre in the mid-1980s. There is widespread acceptance of this practice among French politicians and without legislation, the cumul is likely to continue.

An example : the accumulation of four electoral mandates[edit]

Yves Jégo's four mandates, between March 2010 and July 2011.

According to French law[7] against accumulation of electoral mandates, Yves Jégo should have resigned from one of the following mandates before the 21st of April 2010 (one month after the Regional elections) :

But giving as a pretext a legal complaint from the Front National's candidates, he hold the three of them during more than one year, plus his local mandate of president of the « communauté de communes des deux fleuves » (CC2F).

Recent and current status of cumul in the French government[edit]

Lionel Jospin (Prime Minister from 1997 to 2002) imposed on his government ministers an unwritten rule of having no local office. For example, Catherine Trautmann stepped down as Mayor of Strasbourg (while remaining a member of the city council) to become Minister of Culture; conversely, Martine Aubry stepped down from the Ministry of Labour when elected Mayor of Lille in 2001. This rule was more or less upheld by Jacques Chirac during the governments of Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Dominique de Villepin for the 2002-2007 term, with a few notable exceptions (Jean-François Copé was mayor of Meaux, Nicolas Sarkozy was President of the Hauts-de-Seine General Council); for instance, Philippe Douste-Blazy had to step down from the Toulouse mayorship upon joining the government.

As of 2007, no such rule was stated for the François Fillon government: Alain Juppé, former Minister for Development was mayor of Bordeaux, and was defeated in his National Assembly constituency (a third cumulative mandate) by 50.9% to 49.1% of the votes by the Socialist candidate. Additionally, Hervé Morin, the Minister of Defense, is mayor of Épaignes, and Éric Besson, Minister of Immigration and National Identity, is the mayor of Donzère.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ At the time Pierre Mauroy was prime minister (1981–84), he kept his job as mayor of Lille, one of France's largest cities, without anyone objecting. France has had legions of députés-maires, sénateurs-maires and ministres-maires.
  2. ^ Gidea, Robert (2002). France since 1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 240. ISBN 0-19-219246-9. 
  3. ^ Nadeau, Jean-Benoît; Julie Barlow (2003). Sixty million Frenchmen can't be wrong: why we love France but not the French. Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks. p. 56. ISBN 1-4022-0045-5. 
  4. ^ a b c d Gildea, pg. 240
  5. ^ a b c Nadeau and Barlow, pg. 56
  6. ^ Gildea, pg. 281
  7. ^ "French Interior Ministry" "Le cumul des mandats électoraux" (in French)

External links[edit]