France’s new lawmakers take part in first parliamentary session
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France's newly elected lawmakers, most of them from President Emmanuel Macron's La République en Marche! (LREM) party, took part in their first parliamentary session on Tuesday.
Macron's 14-month-old centrist party, won 308 of the 577 seats at France's lower house of parliament in legislative elections earlier this month. His allies in the MoDem party took 42 seats, giving the government a wide majority.
“MPs getting down to business at the end of what has frankly been a marathon election season here in France,” said FRANCE 24’s Christopher Moore from the National Assembly in Paris.
“It’s a chamber made up of MPs which kind of reflect the new president’s desire for renewal, and a parliament which better reflects the French people as a whole,” Moore added.
Women make up 38 percent of lawmakers, a record for France’s National Assembly. There are 35 lawmakers from minority communities, also a historically high proportion.
During the opening session, lawmakers elected the National Assembly’s new speaker, a key post that organises legislative business and debates.
Francois de Rugy, a veteran lawmaker and a former Green who joined Macron's party earlier this year, got the job.
Rugy called on lawmakers to reform the house to make it "more democratic," ''more efficient" and "modern" to restore the confidence of the French people in the institution.
He also stressed the need for making changes to lawmakers' status, often seen as privileged, through new rules regarding their expenses, retirement benefits or judicial immunity.
A few big names
Some of the lawmakers previously had local political experience, but many are newcomers to politics.
The lawmakers' average age is down from 55 in the previous term to 49 now. The youngest is 23, the oldest 79.
“There are a few big names in this parliament, nevertheless,” said Moore. “One of the survivors is former prime minister Manuel Valls, who will be sitting with Emmanuel Macron’s block in the chamber.”
Other high-profile lawmakers, who intend to use their seats at the National Assembly to voice their opposition to Macron's government, include far-right leader Marine Le Pen and hard-left politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
Le Pen's National Front party won eight seats, including hers, up from two in the outgoing Assembly. Mélenchon's party took 17 seats.
Lawmakers expect to get to work quickly tackling the government's proposed law on expanding police powers and a labour reform making it easier to hire and fire.