The National Assembly ended Thursday, June 30, the third and last day of internal elections and is now ready to begin its legislative work. After the election of Yaël Braun-Pivet at the head of the Palais-Bourbon, Tuesday, then that of the office of the Assembly, Wednesday, it is the heads of the eight permanent committees who have been appointed. A president, four vice-presidents and four secretaries in each of these bodies will be able to begin their missions: in the coming weeks, the government’s bill on purchasing power, the amending finance bill and a text on the health crisis will be examined in particular.

MP Eric Coquerel was elected to chair the finance committee, a strategic position assigned to the opposition and hoped for by the National Rally (RN). Joint candidate of the left-wing coalition New People’s Ecological and Social Union (Nupes), the elected representative of Seine-Saint-Denis won in the third round with 21 votes against 11 for the candidate RN Jean-Philippe Tanguy and 9 for the MP Les Républicains Véronique Louwagie, while the majority MPs abstained. After three suspensions of the session, the deputy Charles de Courson (Freedoms, independents, Overseas and territories) had withdrawn his candidacy for this decisive round.

A strategic budget review role

The Finance Committee, whose presidency has been reserved for the opposition since 2007, plays a strategic role in examining budgets before their arrival in the Chamber or bills such as the one on purchasing power expected in July. The presidency offers access to information covered by tax secrecy, without however being able to reveal it. The mandate runs for one year, like all the presidencies of permanent committees. The deputy of the majority Jean-René Cazeneuve (Renaissance), the only candidate, obtained the other key position of this commission, general rapporteur of the budget.

Elected officials from La République en Marche, the National Rally and the Republicans had accused Eric Coquerel of wanting to use his prerogatives for political purposes, while the LFI deputy shouted “fake news”. “We have to stop with that, the idea is not to go on an individual witch hunt,” he repeated Thursday upon his election, in the Salle des Quatre-Colonnes. He promised debates on the “substance” and rejoiced that “the National Assembly will again become a little more the center of political gravity of this country”.

Aged 63, Eric Coquerel was the favorite as a common candidate for Nupes. He was preferred internally to the socialist Valérie Rabault. Forced to give up in the face of the leadership of the LFI, the most important left-wing force in the Assembly, she obtained in exchange a vice-presidency of the institution. Mr. Coquerel already sat on this commission of some 70 members during the previous legislature.

Immediately after the election, the RN candidate Jean-Philippe Tanguy again denounced the “piracy” of Nupes and an “illegitimate presidency” of LFI, despite the “unifying words of good quality” from Eric Coquerel. The National Rally hoped for an anti-LFI front and the voices of LR. “It’s a shame, now they will manage Monsieur Coquerel and his friends,” added Mr. Tanguy.

Seven elected by the majority as presidents of the other commissions

The far-right party believes that the presidency should have returned to it as the first opposition group with 89 deputies, while the Nupes, 151 elected in total, is made up of four distinct groups. But the regulations simply state that the position must go to an elected member of an opposition group. For Patrick Hetzel (LR), “things went as planned arithmetically. It’s an election for a year, until then we’ll see if it went wrong.”

The other committee chairs are shared between seven elected from the majority: five Renaissance, one elected Horizons and one Democrat (MoDem). At the law commission, in particular, it is Sacha Houlié (Renaissance), 33, who will chair. In social affairs, Fadila Khattabi (Renaissance) was re-elected, while her colleague Stéphanie Rist (Renaissance) will be general rapporteur.

Unlike in 2017, parity is not respected in these senior positions. But the Macronists take shelter behind the election of Yaël Braun-Pivet as President of the Assembly, the first woman on the perch, and Aurore Bergé as patroness of the Renaissance parliamentary group (La République en Marche), as well as vice – female presidencies.