In his first address to members of the National Assembly and Senate since his election in May, Macron delivered a US-style state of the nation speech in the Versailles palace, the former seat of French kings, saying the country must change. “Until now, we were too often on the wrong track,” said the 39-year-old leader, who won office on a promise of political renewal. “We preferred procedures to results, rules to initiative, a society where you live off inherited wealth, to a just society.” He confirmed a plan to implement reform of France’s jaded political system, changes first raised during campaigning. That would include shrinking the number of lawmakers in both houses of parliament — 577 in the lower house National Assembly and 348 in the Senate — by a third, saying it would have “positive effects on the general quality of parliamentary work”.
Macron also pledged to introduce a degree of proportional representation into France’s winner-takes-all electoral system.
The move, long demanded by small parties such as the far-right National Front, would ensure “all tendencies are fairly represented”, he said.
The centrist president, who enjoys a large majority in parliament, said he hoped lawmakers would adopt the changes within a year but reserved the right to organise a referendum “if necessary”.