By breaking the basic rules of the Highway Code, these government vehicles (and often government vehicles) ostentatiously signal that their passengers are not citizens like the others.
By Erwan Le Noan.
An article from Trop Libre
Walking around the National Assembly a day of questions to the government can witness a strange eagerness of sedans that darken the House. Lighted beacons, they cut priorities and interrupt traffic, probably to arrive on time at this important democratic session.
The phenomenon seems trivial at first, but it is indicative of a dysfunction of the French democracy: by breaking the basic rules of the Highway Code, these vehicles government (and often ministerial) ostentatiously indicate that their passengers do not are not citizens like the others.
Signals however not recommended
This behavior is all the more surprising because it contradicts government instructions. A Pierre Bérégovoy circular dated 1992 indicated that "The use of special alarms, sirens and beacons is abusive and largely unjustified, especially in Paris. It exasperates, rightly, the population. The Prime Minister therefore demanded that ministers resort to these "Special equipment" than "In the only necessary cases". He insisted: "It is important that you refuse these facilities for your own trips, except in cases of force majeure". QAGs are unlikely to fit this situation.
Ministers are not alone in taking advantage of these benefits. In 2013, the Ministry of the Interior – which admitted to not keeping the accounts – indicated that "The custom is that, as a rule, only the ministers and the directors of their cabinet have a police equipped vehicle". But it also noted for example that the Economic and Social Council had two of these cars …
What can justify this derogation? Why are big bosses not entitled to flashing lights too? After all, as INSEE notes this week, French multinationals employ nearly 10 million people in total (55% in a foreign country); it is not forbidden to think that they have contributed more to the growth and well-being of French citizens than many members of successive governments … Like many others besides!
Tocqueville explained that democracy is not only a system of political institutions: it is also a model of society, animated by the "passion" of equality. The market economy is consubstantial, since it presupposes the principle equality of all its actors. In these societies, the only distinctions admitted between citizens "Are those of their virtues and their talents" (Article 6 of the Declaration of Human Rights) – and they do not derogate from the principle that the law "Must be the same for everyone".
The sirens and revolving lights of ministerial cars are therefore privileges, which Diderot described in his Encyclopedia like the "Injustices made to all men in favor of one", and among which he distinguished "Privileges of dignities" who "Are those who, or for services rendered, or to further enforce those who are to be rendered, are granted to individuals". The privilege honors, but it also obliges.
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