Novice French lawmaker Guillaume Kasbarian plans on meeting voters once a week in a red and green fortuneteller’s caravan.
The 30-year old business consultant is part of President Emmanuel Macron’s new Republic on the Move party’s army of novices, whose election to Parliament last month transformed France’s political landscape.
Kasbarian’s political involvement started just last year, when he joined the independent centrist party.
He wants to re-engage voters in his Eure-et Loir constituency located southwest of Paris, who had a record low voter turnout.
“Politics have become boring as hell, we need to make it fun again and bring it to people where they live,” said Kasbarian in the garage where he is planning the customization the 1950s wooden caravan.
Around 415 of the 577 lawmakers elected to Parliament are newcomers. Most of them are from Macron’s party, rivals criticized by rivals as inexperienced yes-men to the 39-year-old. Many said they want to do things differently.
“Of course if we don’t deliver concrete results that’s all pointless, but it’s important to get the fun element back in,” said Kasbarian.
Town hall meetings were not enough to engage voters, he said after he spent a day touring his constituency to meet local residents including firemen discussing work hours and farmers pushing for pesticide law changes.
French lawmakers often spend around three days a week in Parliament in Paris debating and voting on laws, networking, and pushing for things like high-speed trains for their regions.
The rest of the week is spent listening to views on how laws should be crafted in constituencies or cutting ribbons at local fairs.
Veterans said the rookies’ ambitions will be crushed by the complexity of lawmaking and the overarching control of the government has on Parliament.
Little room is left for individual lawmakers to maneuver due to the discipline required by each political group, especially for newcomers who have not yet built up political weight.
“All governments want a Parliament that just obeys orders, ministers will call you and say, ‘Come on, you can’t do that, it will make the government look bad,’” said Dominique Raimbourg, a former Socialist lawmaker who lost his seat last month after 10 years in Parliament.
Raimbourg continued to say the social government pressured him when he pushed for amendments to draft criminal laws and often used tactics to get its way including sending bills at the last minute, vetoing amendments, and shuffling the agenda around.
Kasbarian said he was well aware of the difficulties ahead, he would be loyal to Macron and will make his voice heard.
“Most people voted for us to give Emmanuel Macron a majority in Parliament … we need to remember this,” he said. “We’ll have disagreements, we’re not robots, but we’ll discuss them among ourselves … rather than running to the press to complain.”
The newcomer will be tested soon, Kasbarian is pushing for amendments to a draft bill on political transparency being discussed in Parliament this month that would forbid lawmakers from holding consultancy jobs to avoid conflicts of interest.