we call Chambre des Députés, and which in England is called the House of Commons, is not only the legislative power par excellence; it is also, by its very essence and through the will and desire of those who elect, the grand directing and political power of the country, and it is that very thing which, with us as in England, in Belgium, in Italy, in all free countries, constitutes the most important difference between the two great bodies by which the Parliament is formed.

It is true that our Senate, since the Constitution, has the same legislative initiative, the same prerogatives and the same functions, except in matters connected with the budget. But as the Senate does not proceed directly from the very heart of the nation, as it is chosen by a very limited elective body, as in consequence it must be considered but as a feeble image of the people, it has no more right than the House of Lords to the administrative power, except in one instance : when called upon to use that dangerous prerogative, the right of dissolution. In every other case the conduct of the politics of the country is intrusted to the Chamber of Deputies, as in England to the House of Commons. This political assembly, the Chamber of Deputies, is charged to point out to the executive power the way in which the people desire to walk, and from it emanate the cabinets chosen by the head of the State to execute the will of the electoral body.

On this side the Channel as on the other, a ministry may do without a majority in the Upper House, but if it has not a majority in the Lower, either the House must be dissolved or the ministry retire. So also, from it alone should emanate that spirit which constitutes the policy of a government, and which at last becomes the very history of the country. It ought to be the highest personification of the nation and, in some sort, its mirror. Its members are not simple law-givers: in a really free country, they are, they ought above all to be, the immediate agents of that country.

The theory which I have endeavoured to sketch is in a general way true for all those Peoples which have obtained a parliamentary government: the Lower House directs the policy of the nation. And now, it is as evident as a mathematical theorem, that it is impossible for this House seriously to conduct its policy unless the elections from which its members are returned be marked by a distinct political character.

Well, I am obliged to confess that in France we run the greatest risk of our elections not being strictly political; and for a very simple reason: we have no organised parties. In England there are the Whigs, the Tories, and the Radicals. In America the Democrats and Republicans. In Switzerland they have Radicals and Liberals. The very principle of our government is still contested by those who remain faithful to our three monarchical governments; and this reason alone makes it impossible for our Republic to organise its Whigs and its Tories. What takes place in England, America, and Switzerland on the eve of the elections ? The choice of candidates is by no means abandoned to the hazards of local competitions in the different districts. After long preliminary study, each party draws up its list of candidates, and the voters are duly advised how to dispose their voting-paper if they wish to insure the victory of the Liberals or Conservatives in England, of the Republicans or the Democrats in the United States. In France with the scrutin d'arrondissement we have only once been able to conduct the elections on this purely political principle. On the 14th of October, 1877, there were in the whole country two series of candidates, distinctly opposed one to the other: on one side, all the enemies of the Republic, Orleanists, Bonapartists, and Legitimists; on the other, all the partisans of the Republic without distinction of opinion, the members of the Left Centre with those of the Extreme Left, the friends of M. Dufaure with the friends of M. Gambetta, the friends of Thiers with the friends of Louis Blanc, the 363. But this was an exceptional circumstance, it was a question of life or death, of the Republic or Monarchy, and this celebrated division was rather constituent than legislative; it had a plebiscitary character. As things run, universal suffrage with uninominal voting does not produce a really political election; as a rule, neither those who are returned by this manner of voting, nor those who return them, are animated by purely political


And the cause of this is simple. If, previously to presenting himself before the vast electoral body of a department, viz. to the scrutin dle liste, a candidate must have acquired a very solid reputation, must go through a course of serious preliminary studies, and that with fruit, it is not so in the very limited theatre of our districts (arrondissements?). The attorney of the chef-lieunot the best and most serious one, for he is generally taken up in his clients; doctors and country veterinary surgeons; a former sous-préfet, who, instead of endeavouring to govern well, only tried to please and, by favours, to make friends; two or three country squires; a second-rate journalist, and an industriel of the third order; two or three barristers (conseillers généraux), intoxicated with the pale glory of their maiden brief: these as a rule are the candidates of the scrutin d'arrondissement, the immense majority of which candidates is very worthy and very upright, but only the smallest minority of which has received that special education which Herbert Spencer, in the admirable preface to his Sociology, has so very victoriously advocated against those who acknowledge two or three years of apprenticeship to be necessary to become a shoemaker, but imagine that a man is a politician by intuition.

If the candidates of scrutin d'arrondissement are too often men

? With the exception of some circonscriptions of our large towns, which are protected by the most fully-developed political spirit which, I sincerely believe, exists in Europe.

of little merit, the reasons which decide the voters are too often more mediocre still. The candidates, indeed, make professions of their political faith. But most of these professions are mere cockades, and are no security for anything real. Local interests, what is called intérêts de clocher, decide the public voice in a small constituency. The construction of a branch railway line, opening a new high-road, the removal of a garrison, the erection of a market, the repairing of the mayoralty-house or of a church, the abating certain taxes unfavourable to the district, the augmentation of certain government grants—for such questions as these many of the elections favourable to the scrutin d'arrondissement have been carried during the last three years; and the number of elections as radically tainted with indigence of political reasons will increase in the most formidable proportion. That we must assure the representation of local interests has never been contested, and the departmental assemblies (general council, district (arrondissement) council and municipal councils) have been created for that purpose. That these interests must have their place in the Chamber of Deputies is also quite clear. But it is manifest that these questions should only occupy a second rank in the minds and thoughts of the voters. Too often under the uninominal method of voting they occupy the first rank, and the colour of the flag becomes the secondary consideration. This has been constantly observed, and it can be so accounted for: the side of local interests and personal ambitions in the midst of any group whatsoever diminishes in proportion as the numerical importance of the group increases. If you address yourself to the electors of a whole department, local passions will disappear, by the simple fact of the extent comprised, and candidates will appeal to the political opinions of the electors, and to those only. In the arrondissement the deputy places himself at the service of a few interests, a few individuals. In the department he serves an idea, a theory, a great political revindication.

But this is not all. If it is true that too great a number of suffrages are carried by the prospect of individual or local favours, it follows too often that the member thus elected by the uninominal mode of voting becomes a simple paid commissioner, a procurator supported by a small number of electors, the reverse of disinterested. To be returned he must above all make promises; and if he stops shorts at this moral bribery, and does not try a method still more detestable than that employed in the rotten boroughs of England before the reform of 1832, bribery by money and wine, we may consider ourselves lucky. Once returned these principles must be kept up in order for the candidate to be returned again; and here are shown the defects of the scrutin d'arrondissement in all their ugliness. The member is in correspondence with all those who have at all actively supported his candidature, and with many others besides. There is not a single private individual who would hesitate to ask him to support his petition; and he tries to get a good name in every parish by a continual intervention in local affairs. He endeavours to get the whole administration into his own hands, and the sous-préfet ceases to be the representative of the central executive power and becomes the electoral agent of the member. The sous-préfet dares no longer cause the removal of a schoolmistress or a police-sergeant, propose the nomination of an assistant justice of peace, authorise the erection of a village fountain, pronounce an address at an agricultural meeting, without taking into consideration the secret desires of the member, or even without asking his advice. He it is who in the country throws the administrative machine into confusion. He it is who causes the disorganisation of ministerial committees in Paris. What becomes of the member when once invested with the legislative warrant? Look for him. He is an abonné in the antechamber of a minister's office. As each day he receives fifty letters reminding him of his unfulfilled promises, and containing new requests, he passes the day in taking measures to fulfil them by secretly petitioning all the authorities; and, by dint of rendering services and showing favours, he tries to preserve the good graces of his electors, those good graces which he has gained with so much difficulty, and which are menaced behind his back by a rival who intrigues on his side. He takes up the best part of the ministers' time and makes them disgusted with their work; he hinders the progress of serious business : to sum up, he renders all administration impossible, and perverts the public conscience ; for the State appears to the electors, not as the organ of right and justice, not as a guarantee of the security of the nation, but, vulgarly speaking, the dispenser of any favour through the medium of those elected by the arrondissement.

Now, if my readers are already convinced that the scandalous abuses just pointed out are not at all caused by him who is elected, but are the fatal and immediate consequence of the mode of election, it will be unnecessary to show at length that the scrutin de liste will entirely do away with these abuses. A simple argument à contrario suffices to prove it. Intimidation and ruse may be employed, as under the empire and le gouvernement d'ordre moral,3 within a limited circle. But it is not easy to deceive and intimidate a whole department. By promises, or other means, one may succeed in corrupting three or four thousand electors; but when the number of electors rises to fifty or one hundred thousand, bribery becomes impossible. To be elected by a small arrondissement, it may suffice to be the one from whom the greatest amount of support, in private and local interest, is to be expected. But to be elected by a large department something more is required, as I have already stated, and then the elections take a purely political character. By the very defect of the system, the member for the arrondissement is constantly called into immediate intimacy with the electors, and must inevitably become their paid commissioner ; this is the part he plays before the administrative power which he ultimately perverts. By the sole virtue of the scrutin de liste the member for the department has more liberty of action. He is obliged to show other services on his balance-sheet than those rendered to private individuals. In order to be re-elected, a member returned by the scrutin l'arrondissement must always be able to say to his electors: 'I have promised you so many places, so many functions, so many pensions, so many immunities, so many stars, so many favours, all of which I have obtained for you.' In order to be re-elected by a large political body, such as that of a department, the scrutin de liste member must only be able to say : - You have ordered me to render the Republic strong, to enlarge the domain of public liberties, to develop instruction, to assure the maintenance of the rights of the State, to pursue with ever-renewed energy the work of reconstituting the military affairs of the nation. I have kept my promise, I have worked, I have acted, I have spoken, I have contributed towards the realisation of those conquests to which you aspire. I have done my best to further the interests of the nation.'

* Broglie's ministry, May 16.

I believe I may now with confidence ask my readers: Which side shows more interest in political questions? On which side is the greater morality? Which side contains the most serious elements of progress ?

How much further might this comparison be carried! It might be shown that with the scrutin l'arrondissement the electoral contest is above all a personal one, and naturally foments the most violent hatreds, and leaves behind it, after each vote, such jealousies and wicked rancours that at last each sub-prefecture or each parish resembles a little Verona, with its Capulets and Montagues; whilst with the scrutin de liste the contest is one of principle, and directly after the battle all jealousies are allayed. It could also be shown how the scrutin d'arrondissement excludes from Parliament a whole category of citizens, because this system requires a local influence to have been previously obtained, and because the élite of the nation, who are not always very rich, dislike trying to make this conquest, which costs much money and time, and the exigencies of which are beneath their pride and self-respect. It could also be shown that in a parliament returned by scrutin l'arrondissement ministers are never sure of the concurrence of the majority but on condition of satisfying the private claims of deputies outside the House. It could also be shown that the result of this situation is a lack of independence on both sides, and that the majority, thus weakened, has the double inconvenience of not being able to support the power rezolutely when all goes well, or to spur it on when it lags. It could

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