France’s meritocracy and egalitarianism took 30 Years to see another female technocrat as Prime-Minister

Commentary by Dr Hermann Farrugia

France is eloquently praised as the cradle of meritocracy, emancipation of women and the champion of the fundamental notion egalitarianism which includes the concept of equal opportunities to everybody. To date the French Republic stands out tall above the average OECD Index strictly guaranteeing equal gender-rights for its citizens. This has inevitably come about thanks to its determinedly updated reforms on equal pay between women and men and following implementation of cross-government public policies spurred on by a legal arsenal which is constantly and effectively being enhanced.

Yet, very paradoxically and until last Monday evening, this sense of gender equality was not so visibile in French politics. The French political class had a gender-lacuna. I dare to say that it was an ongoing gender-lacuna as the highest constitutional échelons of the French Republic were very evidently assigned always to males. The gender bias has been ongoing for the last three decades. This is rather odd when one look at what has happened in the other major European nations over the past four decades. Even France, during this same period, has seen a steeply increasing trans-party representation by popularly electing women candidates at municipal and regional administrative level.

The same healthy increase was registered in the participation of women at national electoral encounters. In fact, over a similar time interval, l’Assemblée Nationale (National Parliament) has been boasting a progressively escalating cohort of successfully presence of female MPs called ‘Mesdames les Deputées’. These Lady MPs are found being elected across all the major parties and political groupings. Consequently, it is not surprising to note how a substantial number of these soundly trained and dedicated full-time women parliamentarians have, over successive presidential administrations, been appointed ministers or assigned responsibilities as secretaries of state but were never selected to lead a government.

In a nutshell and quite understandably, the time is again ripe for France to have once again a female as prime minister. Thus is was an act of political courage for President Macron in assigning to an established lady politician the most crucial power role to be found in the government system of the West – that of prime minister. In France, the mandate for the selection of the prime minister is in the hands of the President of the Republic. The French president has the power to select any candidate from the elected deputies and appointment as the Head of the French Government. The only criteris is that the selected candidate has to enjoy a parliamentary majority.

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