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“The candidates” or the importance of queues in politics


Delivered. In the spring of 2017, the sociologist Etienne Ollion shed new light on the recurring quarrel over the professionalization of the political world. In a work co-written with political scientist Julien Boelaert and sociologist Sébastien Michon (Profession: deputy, Reasons to act), he had spotted a phenomenon that most often goes unnoticed: since the 1970s, the deputies, before being elected, have been waiting more and longer in the anteroom of the “Republic of collaborators” – the elected representatives of 2012 were there. spent twice as long as those of 1978. Politics, concluded the CNRS researcher, is more and more a matter of patience …

When the book was published, however, a political turmoil changed the situation. At the end of a campaign relentlessly denouncing the wear and tear of “political professionals”, Emmanuel Macron won the Elysee Palace. In its wake, dozens of strangers settled on the benches of the National Assembly. These newcomers, recruited after a call for candidates, had gone up the “queue” at lightning speed, grilling politeness to seasoned professionals who had been patient in political circles for many years: mayors , cabinet advisers, parliamentary assistants.

New paradigm

For a sociologist who intended to think of political careers in the light of expectations, this new paradigm was the perfect opportunity to study in vivo this sudden modification of the rules of the game. Since 2017, Etienne Ollion has therefore followed step by step the laboratory of the National Assembly: he multiplied the interviews, continued the observations at the Palais-Bourbon, but also analyzed, as in his first work, an impressive amount of data on the profile, the trajectory and the practices of these elected novices in the name of the fight against the “professionalization” of political elites.

the “Big bypass” 2017, he concludes, unquestionably inaugurates an unprecedented renewal of the Assembly. In the aftermath of the legislative elections, 72% of deputies began their first mandate (against around a third in normal times), nearly 40% were women (against 25% in 2012) and their average age fell from 56 to 49 years. The famous “Waiting system” in place since the 1970s was also powerfully “Reconfigured” : while the deputies of the Socialist Party and of The Republicans had, on average, already spent nearly twenty years in politics, those of The Republic on the march had a length of service four times less.

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