FRANCE

Check up on skiving MPs

How often does your MP attend parliament? And when attending, does he or she do anything? A French website has been designed to answer precisely those questions, and spare constituents the hassle of having to frisk government records. Read more...

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How often does your MP attend parliament? And when attending, does he or she actually do anything? A French website has been designed to answer precisely those questions, and spare constituents the hassle of having to frisk government records.

Nosdéputés.fr, or "Our ministers", has been recording the attendance, spoken contributions, and committee work of each member of the National Assembly for the past 12 months. Loaded with information, the website opened to the public on Monday (14 September)and soon became victim of its own success. The site's servers were so overloaded just a few hours after it went online that the website struggled to work at speed.

Statistics for ruling UMP party member Patrick Ollier reveal him to be one of the parliament’s most active attendants.

Henri Cuq on the other hand, also a UMP member, has evidently been skiving in the past year.

“We found the official parliament website useless”

Jean-Baptiste Gabellieri is a student in communications and philosophy in Lyon. He's one of the founders of the website.

About a dozen of us decided to set up the project after meeting on the Internet. Our aim is not to prove how rarely MPs attend parliament; we simply believe in the transparency of democratic institutions.

The site is fully comprehensive; we include what the MPs say on the floor and what work they do on committees. It does allow us to identify the MPs who are not attending regularly; but in any case, there are some MPs who openly admit to not attending because they say they'd rather stay at home working for their constituency.

Our initial reason for starting with the project was because we found the official parliament website useless. You can't follow the exact work of MPs, what they're putting forward to the house, or even what assignments they're on.

We have no connection to state or parliament; we're independent in our adventure. Of course private initiatives can be quicker and more efficient than public ones, and without doubt our site will make the house reflect on its own website. Take Data.gov, the US government's data site - it's highly efficient and comprehensive, and notably because websites like Sunlight Foundation pressed it to modernise."