Elected officials and money: norms and customs. Thematic section 34 during the 2017 AFSP Congress

The 14th French Political Science Association Congress was held at the Faculty of Law and Political Science, University of Montpellier, from 10 to 12 July 2017. During this Congress, thematic sections were organized to represent political science work in France today in all its thematic, generational and disciplinary variety. 76 thematic sections- each lasting 4 hours- took place.

The 34th section was entitled: « Elected officials and money: norms and customs ». Its scientific supervisors were members of the project ELUAR, Rémy Le Saout (CENS, project coordinator) and Didier Demazière (Sciences Po, CSO). It covered various works dealing with the remuneration of mandate-holders and the uses and production of norms pertaining to material rewards of political work. Please find below summaries of some of the papers presented at this thematic section.

Axis 1/ Codification of remunerations for elected officials.

Romain Rambaud et Sébastien Brameret (University of Grenoble-Alpes, CRJ), “Elected politicians and money, a map of possibilities”
Monitoring the evolution of legislation and regulation governing the relations of elected representatives (both nationally and locally) with money makes it possible to determine which types of problems have been solved, and what kinds of difficulties still remain. It emerges that society has initially framed these issues at the macroeconomic level, that is to say on the scale of the political system as a whole: i.e. the fixing the allowances of elected officials or the funding of electoral campaigns and political parties. Several hypothesis can be formulated. In the first place, the rise of legislation could be linked to the multiplication of excesses and to the process of professionalisation of the political life. Secondly, we can observe a very important development of this framework in connection to the process of decentralisation. 1982 should therefore be a breaking point (but there is no significant change in the legislation between the adoption of the 1977 Municipal Code and the 1992 laws), and the recent period (post-2012) a period of acceleration and deepening of the framework. While improvements can still be made at the global level, the difficulties are now seemingly more at the microeconomic level: accumulation of functions for politicians; participation in many lucrative activities in the local public sector. In the end, this raises the question of the relative effectiveness and the delicate implementation of the legislation and regulations, in an increasingly pronounced case-law context. The transition from general perspective to individual situations leads to questions that are certainly new, but all the more delicate.

Marie-Ange Grégory (IEP Aix en Provence, CHERPA), “The negotiation of pecuniary benefits: a federating object, favourable to the mobilisation of elected representatives”
This communication wishes to highlight that the negotiation of pecuniary benefits is an effective means to federate a group of elected representatives. Money would to some extent be the sinews of the mobilisation. In a social-historical perspective, two examples on the material conditions of departmental councillors allow to shed light on their mobilisation to beneficiate from comparable rights to councillors. The first focus comes from the action of the Revue départemenale in 1911 in favour of the reimbursement of travel costs incurred by departmental councillors; reimbursement agreed by the finance law of 27 February 1912 (38th article). The second focus is aimed at the long mobilisation of associations of departmental representatives – the Association des présidents des conseils généraux de France registered in 1946 and the Union des conseillers généraux de France founded in 1973 – on the topic of the pensions of their members; until the attribution of a right to retirement for departmental councillors by the law number 92-108 of 3rd February 1992 (4th title, “pensions of elected representatives”). Through these two examples and diverse levels of formalisation of the collective action, one brings light onto the actors invested in the production of reforms aiming at improving the conditions of the practice of the departmental mandate and the registers of justification that it brings in.

Axis 2/ Ways elected officials use money

Louise Dalibert (University of Nantes), “The financial reward of the profession of politician”
The financial reward provided by the profession of politician will be considered from the standpoint of a case study. In September 2014, Jean-Philippe Magnen (Vice-President of the Pays-de-la-Loire Region, former EELV spokesman) announced his decision to withdraw from politics, at the age of 47, in order to return to work as a psychotherapist. What does the biographical study of this ex-professional of politics reveal, as well as his pro-domo advocacy on the impact of financial reward within in the professional political world ? The economic reward seems central in the regulation and evolution of careers, Jean-Philippe Magnen’s exit provides support for this position in the negative ; the fact that he’s less dependent on the pattern of financial dependence allows him to accomplish a rare action in the political landscape : to withdraw from it. Despite this relative detachment, money matters occupy a significant place in his advocacy. We must see there the will to symbolically rehabilitate the local political mandates. The financial reward also influences the representations conveyed within the professional political world, on the value given by actors to the different elective mandates. Finally, his plea on money in politics shows both the difficulty of publicly address the issue of financing political life and the interiorization by the individual of the classical justifications of the profession of politician.

Sébastien Vignon (University of Picardie Jules Vernes, CURAPP-ESS), “The symbolic and political uses of the elective compensations in the rural worlds.The example of the mayors of Picardy”
If the small municipalities offer a priori the least good conditions to live financially  » on the politics(policy) « , the remuneration for the work of the town councillors however developed. On one hand under the influence of the institutionalization of new political roles in the intermunicipal scale which can come along with the payment of compensations the payment of which is the object of negotiations because it is not made systematic by the legislator. On the other hand, and more recently, within the framework of the reform of the legal framework of the compensations because since January 1st, 2016, in the municipalities of less than 1 000 inhabitants, the statutory amounts are fixed and the City Council cannot reduce them any more. By crossing the bibliographic trajectories of the elected representatives (municipalities of Picardy) and the conceptions.

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