The contradictions of France's new-look National Assembly

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The new Members of Parliament have taken up their seats in the National Assembly following the Parliamentary elections and they consist of new faces, new groups and a new social demographic. Many of them are from a non-political, civic society background, with their own habits, customs and beliefs and bringing with them, too, a desire to circumvent the old political obstacles and delays of the past. But, says Hubert Huertas, this new group may themselves soon end up personifying those very same old political ways.

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At first glance the 2017 National Assembly elected in June looks more representative of society than did its predecessors of 2012, 2007, 2002 and so on. Yes, the lower house of the French Parliament lacks MPs who have been manual workers or employees and the upper middle classes are over-represented. The Assembly has 17 graduates of the elite École Nationale d'Administration (ENA) – known as énarques in French - ten former students of the prestigious HEC business school, 34 MPs with doctorates, while there are just five who have the CAP vocational qualification or a BEP diploma – broadly equivalent to a City and Guilds qualification. But the 2017 intake is clearly different: the new MPs elected on 11th and 18th June are younger, lawyers, doctors and civil servants are not the dominant force they once were and above all there are, at last, lots more women.