France's embattled justice chief unveils clean politics bill

2017-06-14 21:47
Former French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a press conference to announce his candidacy for next year's presidential election in Bobigny, near Paris. (Philippe Lopez, AFP)

Former French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a press conference to announce his candidacy for next year's presidential election in Bobigny, near Paris. (Philippe Lopez, AFP)

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Paris - France's government is presenting a bill on cleaning up political ethics after years of corruption scandals - even as investigations haunt members of President Emmanuel Macron's new government.

Justice Minister Francois Bayrou is unveiling the draft law on "restoring trust" in politics on Wednesday to the Cabinet, the first major legislation by Macron's administration.

It's expected to easily pass parliament, where Macron's party is on track to win a crushing majority in elections on Sunday.

Yet the bill, a key Macron campaign promise to "moralise" France's political life, is already clouded.

Bayrou's centrist party Modem is under investigation for possible misuse of European Parliament funds.

The minister for European affairs, Marielle de Sarnez, also a member of the Modem, is among several French politicians facing a similar probe.

And the territorial cohesion minister Richard Ferrand is under investigation for his past business practices. They all deny wrongdoing.

The new bill notably would ban lawmakers and government members from hiring family members. About a hundred lawmakers - out of 577 - employed at least one family member during the last term at the National Assembly.

The presidential campaign had been deeply disturbed by an investigation of conservative candidate François Fillon. His wife, Penelope, was richly paid as a parliamentary aide, allegedly without actually working.

The bill would create a new sentence enabling judges to ban a person convicted for fraud or corruption-related crimes from running for an elected office for up to 10 years.

France's Senate and the National Assembly would have to set specific rules to prevent conflicts of interest.

Lawmakers will be asked to report their expenses - a first in the country. Until now, lawmakers get monthly allowances to cover expenses they didn't have to justify.


Read more on:    emmanuel ­macron  |  france

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