France mulls 'MP for Britain' to represent expats in French parliament
France has unveiled radical plans to create an “MP for Britain” who will sit in the French parliament.
Last Updated: 9:59AM BST 17 Apr 2009
The new French overseas constituency of the UK would have its own dputs to voice the interests of the estimated 400,000 expats living in Britain.
Under the proposals, Britain would become one of 11 new French constituencies located in countries with large French immigrant populations.
Other countries to get their own French representatives to voice their interests in the French parliament would include Germany, Switzerland and the US.
The scheme is the brain-child of French interior affairs minister Alain Marlaix, and has the backing of President Nicolas Sarkozy and his centre-right UMP party.
More than two million French living overseas can already vote in their national elections, but only for an MP with a seat in France.
The new foreign constituencies would give expats more direct representation at home in France, Mr Marlaix said.
“This is the first time in any country in the world that something like this had been done,” he said.
“The new overseas MPs will have identical status to any other MP based in France.
“They will be elected in the same way and speak for the French expatriates they represent.”
The new constituencies are part of a larger parliamentary shake-up, with seats being merged or enlarged in France so that the total number of French MPs remains the same.
But French socialists have claimed that the scheme is “closet gerry-mandering” – where new constituencies are created to the benefit of the ruling party.
A spokesman for the socialists said: “Studies show French people living abroad are more likely to vote for a centre-right party than a left wing one.
“This is being proposed as something that is good for French expatriates, but in fact it is just a way for the government to give itself another 11 safe seats.”
The 11 new constituencies would be: Britain, Switzerland, Germany, the Iberian peninsula and Monaco, eastern Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America, the US, the Middle East and two in Africa.
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