“The Assembly is gradually getting closer to the France that we meet in the street”

According to a count carried out by France 24, 32 deputies from diversity (excluding elected representatives from Overseas France) will sit in the National Assembly in the new term. A slight decline compared to 2017 when their presence had tripled. To analyse.

Legislative 2022 © FMM Graphic Studio

After the great leap forward, the slight regression. As in terms of parity, the number of deputies from diverse backgrounds has fallen slightly compared to the 2017 term of office. According to the count carried out by France 24, at least 32 of the 550 deputies, excluding overseas territories, i.e. 5, 8% of the House elected on June 12 and 19 come from it, compared to 35 five years ago.

Since the collection of demographic data based on ethnic origin is prohibited in France, official statistics are non-existent. For this article, France 24 has therefore carried out its own census: as five years ago, we have identified elected officials with at least one parent from non-European immigration or from overseas. For the latter, we have only retained in this article those elected in mainland France. Thus, if Maud Petit, MoDem MP for the Val-de-Marne constituency, and originally from Martinique, is included in our count, we have excluded all elected representatives from Overseas France. And, in the same logic that had presided five years ago, we did not select candidates from a family of pied-noirs or themselves pied-noirs.

The proportion of elected representatives from diverse backgrounds in the National Assembly.
The proportion of elected representatives from diverse backgrounds in the National Assembly. © Graphic studio France Media World

“This stagnation hides progress,” rejoices Patrick Lozès, president and founder of the Representative Council of Black Associations in France (Cran), who has been following the subject of the representation of diversity in political personnel for years. “In 2017, it was a windfall effect: La République en Marche did not expect to have so many elected officials and the nominations had been distributed in haste. There is also a huge drop in the ranks of their MPs this year. Things seem to be stabilizing.”

Patrick Lozès, himself a UDF candidate for deputy in Paris in 2002, measures the progress made over the past twenty years. He was then one of the few people from the diversity invested by a large party.

>> To read also: “A rejuvenation of the National Assembly carried by the Nupes and the RN”

“Since that time, things have completely evolved,” notes the president of Cran, who regrets the banning of ethnic statistics in France. “They would not be used to flog France as some would like to say. On the contrary, they would make it possible to measure progress in this area. We could have quantified the progress of 2017 compared to 2012: the elected representatives from diversity had tripled! The National Assembly is gradually getting closer to the France that we meet in the street.

The evolution, since 2012, of the number of elected representatives from diverse backgrounds.
The evolution, since 2012, of the number of elected representatives from diverse backgrounds. © Graphic studio France Media World

According to the latest INSEE survey on the subject in 2015, 11% of the population in France has at least one immigrant parent.

Many elected La France insoumise and Renaissance

If we look at the results party by party, it is La France insoumise (LFI) which sends the largest contingent of deputies from diversity (in percentage): 14.6% of its elected officials, excluding Overseas, fill our criteria.

Several historical figures of LFI are part of it and have been elected in the Paris region. Danièle Obono, the Franco-Gabonese already elected in 2017, is joined by, among others, Sophia Chikirou, eternal communications director for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, of Algerian descent, Nadège Abomangoli, born in Congo-Brazzaville, or the very media-friendly Rachel Keke. Born in Ivory Coast, the latter lived there until the 1999 coup before becoming known in France by leading the fight for the chambermaids of the Ibis des Batignolles hotel, in Paris, between 2019 and 2021. Raquel Garrido, pillar of the rebellious movement, is also elected deputy. A consecration for this exiled Chilean whose parents fled the dictatorship in the 1970s, just like the family of her now colleague from the Assembly Rodrigo Arenas.

“Some parties pay much more attention to the issue of diversity, starting with LFI. The movement has taken a great interest in working-class neighborhoods and has made itself the bearer of their demands”, underlines Sébastien Michon, sociologist at the CNRS and specialist of the sociology of political personnel.

On the side of the presidential party, it is the opposite movement. After sending 23 deputies from diverse backgrounds to the Assembly five years ago, La République en Marche, which has become Renaissance, has only eleven left. Some figures from the previous term, such as Mounir Mahjoubi, did not run or were beaten, like Laetitia Avia in the eighth district of Paris.

The right, dunce of diversity

Nothing new, however, on the right side. The dunce’s cap still goes unquestionably to the Les Républicains (LR) party and the National Rally (RN). Despite some candidates from diversity presented, none of their deputies (62 for LR, 89 for the RN) meet our criteria. In the case of the RN, however, the finding is hardly surprising, one of the pillars of its program being the control of immigration.

Between these good and these bad students, there is the procession of “can do better”: Socialist Party (PS), Europe Ecology-The Greens (EELV), Democratic Movement (MoDem), Communist Party (PCF) and Union of Democrats and self-employed (UDI). Thus, Fatiha Keloua-Hachi, one of the few communist neo-deputies, allows the PCF to avoid repeating the zero points of 2017. For its part, the UDI has only one person from diversity, the outgoing Meyer Habib, on its five elected in total (against 18 deputies previously).

The risk of ethnicization of candidates

The rebellious movement and its allies in the New People’s Ecological and Social Union (Nupes) were not spared criticism during the nominations. The presentation, in photo, of the twelve candidates invested by the left in Seine-Saint-Denis has tensed. “When I saw the heads of the list of the far left (sic) in Seine-Saint-Denis, I thought we were in the Vosges!”, Thus tackled comedian Yassine Belattar. A way, for this close friend of Emmanuel Macron, to mock the whiteness of the candidates in this department where nearly 100 different nationalities cohabit.

“The controversy has developed because the choice was made to place an executive rather than local activists in ultra-favorable constituencies for Nupes, analyzes Sébastien Michon. This is due to the very structuring of the parties: executives who make a political career claim places where they can be elected. However, among these executives, there is a certain homogeneity: many white men from the upper categories. There is a friction between a partisan logic and an adequacy with the political brand.

The Tous Élects association, which has set itself the task of bringing out representative profiles of French society and fighting against abstention, also issued a forum in Le Monde to warn the coalition of left.

“Our platform did not want to hit only on the Nupes. There, we were talking about the left because these are parties that carry values ​​in terms of diversity, meritocracy, ecology and, as a non-partisan association, it seemed to us important to underline this discrepancy. However, Together!, LR and the National Rally are not left out in this lack of representativeness”, specifies Audrey Fortassin, director general of the association.

“Citizens today think it is important to have diversity among their representatives to defend their voice. However, for the people we have trained, a cruel observation has been made: for the novices, it is difficult to win a nomination in the parties”, underlines Audrey Fortassin. “There is a desire to do political marketing by putting forward a Rachel Keke – or a François Ruffin five years ago. However, you have to see that, without media pre-existence, it is very difficult to be elected. “

Patrick Lozès shares this observation but extends it to all the parties. In each political movement, “nominations of candidates from diversity are withdrawn by the act of the prince in the nomination committee, disgusted outgoing people no longer want to run. Others invested are sent to hell in unwinnable constituencies Many are also relegated to the role of substitute,” he laments.

The president of Cran also warns of a danger. “There is also a risk of ethnicization of the deputy from diversity, who would only be able to be elected in ‘pockets of diversity’ such as Seine-Saint-Denis or the constituencies of French people living abroad” , he warns. “The parties must pass the course of presenting candidates of diversity everywhere. The voters vote above all for the party.”

However, Patrick Lozès is optimistic. While the Cran is preparing to deliver in the coming days its own counts and conclusions on diversity within the new National Assembly, it notes that “beyond the elected officials, we must salute the unprecedented number of candidates invested for these elections.

There remains a crucial step, according to him, to improve the situation. “Ideally, people from diverse backgrounds should be included in party nomination committees. It is there, in these opaque places where decisions are made without transparency, that everything is played out.”

France 24

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