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French politics Parliament France Fran├žois Fillon

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1 out of 6 French MPs employs family, according to new report

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General view of the National Assembly during a debate to extend a state of emergency, in Paris, France, November 19, 2015 following the series of deadly attacks on last Friday in the French capital Reuters/Charles Platiau

Right-wing presidential candidate François Fillon is not alone. According to French centrist daily Le Monde, at least one out of six members of parliament in the National Assembly has relatives on his or her payroll.


It is not illegal in France for members of parliament (MPs) to employ relatives as parliamentary assistants. But ever since it was revealed that Fillon’s wife was paid nearly one million euros over more than a decade for an alleged “fake job” as parliamentary assistant, this particular line of work has been in the limelight.

After conducting its own investigation, centrist daily Le Monde found that at least 18 percent of MPs in the National Assembly employ relatives as parliamentary assistants.

The results are based on the daily’s own research, as well as the list of parliamentary assistants published last week by the National Assembly on its website, a first for the lower house of parliament. Although MPs have been required to disclose their assistants since 2014 to the High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life, an independent administrative authority, they were not required to make this information public on the National Assembly’s website. There are 2,039 assistants listed for 572 MPs.

Le Monde
emailed all 572 MPs asking who their parliamentary assistants were, how long they had been working for them, whether they work at the National Assembly or in their local district, and, above all, if they were related.

Only 205 MPs, or less than half, responded.

Findings

Of the 205 MPs who participated in the daily’s investigation, 103 confirmed that they employ relatives as parliamentary assistants.

While all political parties are concerned, the report shows that nearly 25 percent of right-wing Les Républicains MPs employ relatives, as opposed to the roughly 12 percent combined of Socialist and Green MPs.

At least eight MPs employ two family members instead of just one.

Seventy percent of the parliamentary assistants employed by a family member are women. This compared to the total percentage of women parliamentary assistants in the National Assembly, which comes to 59 percent.

Le Monde
also found a disparity regarding which MPs are more likely to employ their spouse. Only six women MPs employ their partner, whereas 45 men MPs do so.

The majority of MPs dispose of roughly 9,500 euros every month to pay up to five assistants. Each MP decides how many assistants he wants to employ, and how much each will be paid.