Third term for Macron? Close ally causes stir with proposal

AFP , Monday 19 Jun 2023

One of French President Emmanuel Macron's closest political allies caused a stir on Monday by backing constitutional changes to enable the head of state to seek a third term in office.

Richard Ferrard
Former MP and parliamentary speaker, Richard Ferrard said he was against the constitutional limit of two terms that means Macron must step down in 2027. AFP


Former MP and parliamentary speaker Richard Ferrand told the right-wing Figaro newspaper on Monday that he was against the constitutional limit of two terms that means Macron must step down in 2027.

"In my personal view, I'm against everything that restricts the expression of the popular will," he said, provoking a rash of headlines and criticism from political opponents.

Ferrand criticised the presidential term limits as well as new rules introduced in 2014 that prevent MPs and senators from also serving as mayors or heads of regions.

"All of that puts a straightjacket on our public life with rules that limit the free choice of citizens," he added.

"Let's change it all, while keeping the bicameral system and the Constitutional Council, the guardian of our republican principles and public liberties."

Critics on both the left and right accused Ferrand, one of Macron's earliest political backers, of copying the tactics and language of authoritarian leaders.

"Changing the constitution to stay in power.... the last two people to do it are called Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin," said right-wing senator Alain Houpert, referring to the Chinese and Russian leaders.

Mathilde Panot, the parliamentary head of the hard left France Unbowed party, said Ferrand was the "face of authoritarian drift under Macron".

France regularly urges African leaders to respect term limits with attempts to cling to power causing crises in countries from Burundi to the Democratic Republic of Congo in recent years.

Ferrand issued a new statement on Monday saying it was "worrying to see social networks and lazy media getting worked up about a stupid proposal that I didn't make in my interview with the Figaro".

He added in an interview with Sud Radio that he was not suggesting a change before the next scheduled presidential elections in 2027.

"You don't change the rules in the middle of the game. That would make no sense," he said.

Ferrand was a shock victim of anti-Macron voting patterns during parliamentary elections last June when the centrist pro-business head of state lost his majority in the national assembly.

The former Socialist MP has since disappeared from the public eye, but remains a close confidant and adviser to the president.

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