Home > English > The National Assembly in the French Institutions > File n° 63

 

February 2011

 File n°63 

Communication
at the National Assembly

 

 

 

 

 

 

    Key Points

    Rather than “communication”, it would be better to speak of “communications” at the National Assembly. The National Assembly is, in fact, looked upon by the citizens simultaneously as a historical monument, as an institution of the Republic and as one of the most significant places in French political life. This implies a necessity to use different communication strategies and initiatives.

    The communication policy of the National Assembly is laid down by the Communication Delegation of the Bureau. It is consists of a variety of activities such as the organization of tours of the Palais Bourbon, providing access to parliamentary proceedings and documents as well as to the internet site and the development of teaching tools for schoolchildren of both primary and secondary level.

    There are also, of course, a variety of initiatives carried out in the framework of internal communication.

See also files 64 to 67 and 75

 

    On account of its history and role, the National Assembly is looked upon in a number of ways in France. It is, at the same time:

    - A monument, with its facade, “the colonnade”, its Chamber and the Hôtel de Lassay, the residence of the Presidency, all of which are part of the nation’s heritage;

    - A deliberating assembly at the very heart of institutional life and of public powers;

    - A political assembly, where, with its political groups based on the political parties, debates take place between the governing majority and the opposition;

    On top of this communication, aimed at citizens, must be added the demands imposed by internal communication whose audience is made up of those who ‘use’ the National Assembly: M.P.s, parliamentary civil servants, members of the President’s staff, the staff of the political groups and the M.P.s’ assistants.

    The National Assembly is therefore not a single but a multiple entity and it is this manifold nature which requires a series of different communications initiatives.

    The Communication Delegation of the Bureau of the National Assembly under the authority of the President lays down the communication policy of the National Assembly. This policy is implemented by a specific Department, which is called the Communication and Multimedia Information Department.

    I. – COMMUNICATION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AS A HISTORICAL MONUMENT

    This first image of the National Assembly entails a whole first set of communications initiatives:

    - The National Assembly may be visited. It is the duty of the Communication Department, in particular, to organize such visits and the communication aids which are linked to them. These include the “Welcome to the Assembly” signs which can be seen all along the routes of the visits and which explain the various places and the working of the National Assembly, as well as the audio-guides which are available in French and in English. The National Assembly may also be visited virtually by means of the Assembly’s website. On top of these “traditional” visits must be added the participation of the National Assembly in the National Heritage Days on the third Saturday and Sunday of September when many public buildings are opened simultaneously to the general public;

    - The National Assembly also has a shop called the “Boutique de l’Assemblée”, where citizens may, in particular, procure documents of the Assembly or a souvenir of their visit;

    - This wealth of heritage has led to the development of a publishing wing both in the traditional form of books, e.g. “The National Assembly” published by “Editions Beaux-Arts” and in a more modern form (CD-ROM, collections of photographs and videos made available on line);

    - The prestige attached to the premises also means that many events or exhibitions are often organized there to celebrate specific or traditional occasions. These events are the subject of media coverage.

    II. – COMMUNICATION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AS AN INSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC

    In this framework, every person who is interested in the working and the activities of the National Assembly should be able to access the information he is seeking. Who is who? Who does what? What is the role of the National Assembly within the institutions?

    This information brief relies on different tools, from the most traditional to the most modern, as the digitization of documents enables their transmission, from a single file, in a whole series of ways.

    This mandate requires the departments of the National Assembly to inform without taking sides. The taking of sides and the making of commentaries do not fall within their brief but within that of the press or television and radio. The Communication Department however does assist the press, television and radio through its Press Unit. Amongst the television channels, LCP-Assemblée nationale, the Parliamentary channel, has a very specific role.

    This second image of the National Assembly entails another set of communications initiatives:

    - Replies to questions asked by mail, telephone or electronic mail;

    - Making available on paper and by means of the Internet site, parliamentary proceedings and documents, along with a weekly newsletter giving information on the work of the Assembly as well as all information concerning the organization and the working of the National Assembly;

    - Live access to the debates upon request via the Internet site;

    - The recording of all the debates for television and radio. Making them available to public or private television channels as well as to M.P.s;

    - The publication of documents summing up, at regular intervals, the work of the National Assembly and its different bodies and in particular the annual activity report;

    - Learning tools for schoolchildren in different formats: a cartoon/brochure called, “I Visited the National Assembly”, a “teaching kit” provided to M.P.s to illustrate their talks when they visit schools in their constituency, and the organization in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, of the Children’s Parliament which has its own interactive internet site: www.parlementdesenfants.fr.

    III. – THE COMMUNICATION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT FORUMS IN POLITICAL LIFE

    In this particular field, communication, apart from the minutes and the transmission of debates, is the responsibility of the political groups and the M.P.s themselves.

    Each of the political groups has its own organization and carries out its own communication:

    - By means of an Internet site which can be accessed directly from the National Assembly site;

    - Through press conferences, in part, organized by the Press Unit.

    - Each M.P. may use the National Assembly site to give access to his own site (for which he has the entire editorial responsibility). He can meet the press (in particular in the “Salle des Quatre Colonnes” which is situated next to the Chamber and which has always been the tradition meeting place for M.P.s and journalists).

    IV. – INTERNAL COMMUNICATION

    The Communication Department is also in charge of internal communication. To do so, it has several tools both electronic (the Intranet site “Weban” for the departments of the Assembly or the extranet site “577”, which is specially designed for M.P.s and their assistants) and paper (the ‘Feuilleton’ or Daily Gazette).