One hell of a fall! The candidates for the June legislative elections will be precisely 6,293 on the starting line. A number down 20% compared to 2017, when 7,882 candidates dreamed of winning their seat in the National Assembly. What are the short and long term trends behind this number? Le Point interviewed Jean Garrigues, a political historian and author of The Temptation of the Savior. Story of a French passion (Payot Histoire, 2022).

Le Point: The number of legislative candidates fell sharply in 2022 compared to 2017. How do you explain this?

Over the past twenty years, with the exception of 2017, the number of candidates has fallen significantly. Is there a vocations crisis?

Obviously, yes, there is a vocations crisis. The exercise of the parliamentary function has been greatly devalued. The institutions of the Fifth Republic emphasize executive power, unlike the Third and Fourth Republics where most of the power was in the National Assembly. This devaluation was reinforced by the constitutional revision of 2000, according to which the legislative elections follow the presidential election. The National Assembly gives the impression of playing a very secondary role in public life. All these elements, put together, explain this almost irreversible decline.

Evolution of the number of legislative candidates: 2022: 6,2932017: 7,8822012: 6,5002007: 7,2432002: 8,444

There was a resurgence in 2017. All is not lost.

Yes, it is true that 2017 marked a resurgence perhaps due to the emergence of the En Marche movement, a new conception of political curricula with a strong feminization and candidates from civil society. However, this new breath fell in 2022 due to the divorce between citizens and political life, the disbelief of the French towards their elected officials.

Isn’t too many applications, on the contrary, a sign of lower quality?

The criterion of quality is very difficult to set. We can consider that it is the control of the files. We can also consider that it is the capacity to represent the majority of the ideas of the citizens… I consider that the multiplication of the candidatures is rather the sign of a democratic vitality.

Would limiting the renewal of the mandate of an MP, as it comes up from time to time in the public debate, be a good option?

It’s possible. A rebound in vocations could arise from the idea of ​​a new course that would not engage candidates for 15 or 20 years, as was the case before, provided of course that the people decide.