With debates over the rising cost of living and President Emmanuel Macron’s allies short of an overall majority, what MPs are wearing may not seem the most burning issue in the French parliament.
But there have been impassioned discussions over the last days over that crucial question of a contemporary gentleman’s fashion – should men have to wear ties in the chamber?
The issue has been sparked by the presence of a large contingent of deputies from the far-left France Unbowed (LFI) party who scored well in last month’s parliamentary elections as part of the NUPES left-wing alliance.
Many male MPs from the LFI have chosen not to wear ties in parliament, leaving some right-wing counterparts aghast. Prominent LFI members of its younger generation, such as MP Adrien Quatennens, are almost always tie-less.
Right wing Republicans MP Eric Ciotti in a letter asked the parliament speaker to enforce an “obligation to wear a tie” in the chamber, in a bid to “to prevent certain deputies, in particular from LFI, from allowing themselves to wear more and more casual clothes in the chamber.”
He described it as a “mark of respect due to our institutions and our compatriots.”
But the LFI faction responded with a letter of their own on Friday, declaring that “clothes do not make the deputy.”
“MPs must reflect the image of the people, their hopes and their indignation, and must not marginalize themselves,” said the letter signed by prominent LFI deputies Mathilde Panot and Alexis Corbiere.
They argued that in 2022 wearing a tie does not imply smart dress but more adhering to a “particular social group” and said deputies had been allowed to go tie-less in the previous parliament.
LFI MP Louis Boyard went even further, demanding that parliament “bans suits sold for indecent prices” and regretting that some deputies were wearing “increasingly expensive outfits.”
Right-wing MP Renaud Muselier had also denounced the left-wing MPs as “the dirty, scruffy left, screaming everywhere,” saying there was a “problem of behavior.”
The parliament rule book is not specific on whether MPs should wear ties, saying they should be in “informal wear” which usually means a business suit.
The strong performance of the LFI and NUPES in the parliamentary election deprived Macron of his majority although the government is now trying to push through legislation on a bill-by-bill basis.
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