French citizens are increasingly dissatisfied with the representative system, whether in terms of election procedures or of the relatively stagnant choice of candidates from a professionalized political class. How can France manage to better represent society through its elective system? What would it take to turn grassroot protest movements into constructive influence on public policies?This document begins by noting two facts. Far from being disinterested in politics, the French — weary of a majority voting system and a relatively stagnant political class — are expressing their political engagement by participating in associations. Second, France and Great Britain are exceptions in Europe, maintaining proportional voting systems either directly or in the form of a mixed system.
The debate over proportional voting is well-known: the proportional system’s merit is that it is “fairer” and better represents minorities. However, it leads to political instability which is incompatible with the need for efficiency. In light of European experiences, and the various proposals adopted by the twenty-five Member-States, the debate is worth reopening: Should we re-examine the “French exception,” which has certain advantages, and incorporate some aspects of the proportional system into the legislative election process, like a “dose of oxygen” that could improve the quality of representation? If the answer is yes, how big a dose, given how that this voting method is better suited for so-called politically “calm” periods? This study proposes a subtle approach which meets both demands of fairness and efficiency: a mixed system with a dual vote at the first ballot, closed lists without a vote-splitting option, a relatively high eligibility threshold (5%), and electoral districts set up at the regional level, to ensure legitimacy, transparency and efficiency.