While Macron is in a quandary after losing an absolute majority in parliament, Yaël Braun-Pivet makes history in France by becoming the first woman president of the National Assembly

While Macron is in a quandary after losing an absolute majority in parliament, Yaël Braun-Pivet makes history in France by becoming the first woman president of the National Assembly
Photo Source: Yaël Braun-Pivet, Epjt Tours/2019 via Flickr photolist-2npXXXo-2dMzQ7a-2nv1GvR-2fayqAS-RtRtqg-2hKBRWW-2ivw9VH-2i5Pgi5-2i5PgfK


Idil Igdir

Women’s Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence. 

Since April 2022, France has captured the world's attention first with its challenging presidential election between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, then with an unprecedented legislative election that marked a political setback in the country, as 20 years later a French president lost an absolute majority in parliament (Wheeldon, 2022). The last cohabitation, the third, was formed during the XIth legislature of the Fifth Republic, from 1997 to 2002 under President Jacques Chirac (Assemblée Nationale, N.D). But with the introduction of the five-year term for the President in 2002, thus harmonizing the parliament and the presidency terms, such political stalemates were never again encountered in the country. 

Yet, Macron continues to set records as the first French president to take office for the second time in 20 long years and who may have to form a coalition in parliament to avoid political gridlocks in France after the sharp loss of the legislative elections on June 19, 2022. This means that his party won 245 seats, 44 less than the majority, in the National Assembly, where there are 577 deputies (Wheeldon, 2022). 

On the other hand, as the president faces difficult circumstances in his second term, the country is going through a major shift to address the recurring problem of lack of gender equality in politics. To begin with, France now has a woman Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, for the second time in the Fifth Republic, that is to say since 1958 (Gazate Duvar, 2022). Moreover, Yaël Braun-Pivet made history in the French parliament by becoming the first woman president of the National Assembly, defeating her opponents in a secret ballot (Ghosh, 2022). The new speaker of parliament is a member of Macron's centrist alliance Ensemble (Together) and was previously appointed Minister of the Overseas in Borne’s government in May 2022 (The Associated Press, 2022). 

Yaël Braun-Pivet, a 51-year-old criminal lawyer by trade, said she had always voted for France’s Socialist Party before becoming a member of Emmanuel Macron's En Marche party in 2016. Therefore, the fact that she now holds the fourth most senior office in terms of order of precedence for public ceremonies sends an important message for women's representation in politics. The first three thus belong to the President (Emmanuel Macron), the Prime Minister (Elizabeth Borne) and the President of the Senate (Gérard Larcher). 

Consequently, having a woman president of the National Assembly is a huge victory not only for gender equality in politics but also for women lawmakers, who are still a minority with 37.26 per cent in the lower house in France (Hird, 2022). Braun-Pivet addressed this issue in her first statement, describing the situation as “the long and winding path of equality between men and women'' (Darame & Lamothe, 2022). 

Sources and further reading

Assemblée Nationale. (N.D). Les élections législatives depuis 1958. Retrieved July 6, 2022, from https://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/dyn/decouvrir-l-assemblee/les-elections-legislatives-depuis-1958

Darame M., Lamothe J. (2022, June 29). France: Yaël Braun-Pivet makes history as first female Assemblée Nationale president. Le Monde. Retrieved July 6, 2022, from https://www.lemonde.fr/en/politics/article/2022/06/29/france-yael-braun-pivet-makes-history-as-first-female-assemblee-nationale-president_5988363_5.html

France 24. (2022, June 28). French lawmakers elect Yaël Braun-Pivet as National Assembly president, first woman in role. Retrieved July 6, 2022, from https://www.france24.com/en/france/20220628-french-lawmakers-elect-yaël-braun-pivet-as-national-assembly-president-first-woman-in-role

Gazate Duvar. (2022, May 16). Fransa'da 30 yıl sonra kadın başbakan: Elisabeth Borne göreve atandi. Retrieved July 6, 2022, from https://www.gazeteduvar.com.tr/fransada-30-yil-sonra-kadin-basbakan-elisabeth-borne-goreve-atandi-haber-1565011

Ghosh S. (2022, June 28). French parliament elects Yael Braun-Pivet as first ever woman speaker. Wion. Retrieved July 6, 2022, from https://www.wionews.com/world/french-parliament-elects-yael-braun-pivet-as-first-ever-woman-speaker-492738

Hird A. (2022, June 22). Drop in the number of female MPs shows ongoing battle for gender parity in French politics. Rfi.  Retrieved July 6, 2022, from https://www.rfi.fr/en/france/20220622-drop-in-female-mps-shows-ongoing-battle-for-gender-parity-in-french-politics-feminism-chamboncel

The Associated Press. (2022, June 28). The first woman speaker of France's parliament defends the right to abortion. NPR. Retrieved July 6, 2022, from https://www.npr.org/2022/06/28/1108493651/the-first-woman-speaker-of-frances-parliament-defends-the-right-to-abortion

Wheeldon T. (2022, June 23). After losing the majority, can Macron strike a deal with opposition parties?. France24. Retrieved July 6, 2022, from https://www.france24.com/en/france/20220623-where-do-france-s-opposition-parties-stand-on-a-deal-with-macron