“It is not incoherent that article 40 of the Constitution comes to frame the initiative of parliamentarians”

Dor several days, serious criticisms have been directed against article 40 of the Constitution. After the “47-1”, the “49.3”, the “RIP” [référendum d’initiative partagée] of Article 11, it is therefore the turn of the “financial inadmissibility” mechanism to arouse the wrath of the opposition and certain observers of parliamentary life. The provision would be dangerous, unparliamentary, iniquitous, undemocratic…

Dangerous? Article 40 of the Constitution is one of the few that has never been modified since 1958. As the late Guy Carconne pointed out: “Although parliamentarians denounce, often exasperated, the constraints that article 40 imposes on them, they nevertheless had the wisdom not to touch it. » What does the rule state? It declares “inadmissible” – that is to say invalid – any parliamentary initiative whose adoption “would result in either a reduction in public resources or the creation or aggravation of a public charge”. It proclaims a requirement of rigor which is imposed on all elected officials, members of the majority as well as of the opposition.

The principle laid down is intended to prevent parliamentary initiatives from leading to costly excesses. The objective pursued is threefold: to ensure that the executive has control of finances, to anticipate the budgetary and fiscal impact of the proposed reforms, and to try to convince the government of the relevance of a measure.

Perfectly known by deputies and senators, this constraint is frequently applied to amendments, without causing any excitement: under the 15e legislature (2017-2022), the Chairman of the Finance Committee of the National embly was contacted 313 times; a total of 7,266 amendments were declared inadmissible. On the other hand, with regard to legislative proposals, referral is rare: only one case under the 15e legislature; only eight during the 14e (2012-2017).

Under these conditions, the exceptional nature of the referral to the current president, Eric Coquerel [La France insoumise]about the LIOT group’s bill repealing the increase in the retirement age makes it possible to understand the amazement of the members of the opposition groups. But this singular use demonstrates, a contrario, that the mechanism of Article 40 does not have all the evils that we would like to see in it and, in any event, that its deletion or maintenance will have no effect. on the crisis of political life!

A minimum of rigor

Unparliamentary? The provision does not block the reforms initiated, but it imposes compliance with financial constraints. If a bill tabled by a parliamentarian generates a budgetary or tax impact, it is up to its author to find compensation (we say that he “pledges” his proposal) so as not to degrade the public accounts.

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