[Open-Legislation] [PMO Network] A minister says NosDéputés.fr has a dangerous effect on the French Parliament

Josh Tauberer tauberer at govtrack.us
Mon Sep 10 23:45:18 UTC 2012

On 09/10/2012 05:26 AM, Benjamin Ooghe-Tabanou wrote:
> - MPs would have started to speak saying repeated things within
> comittee reunions just to appear on our website and therefore would
> pollute the debates and make them slower.

Hi, Benjamin.

There is some evidence that this, as well as the opposite of this, has 
happened elsewhere.  A 2006 article in the Times of London claimed that 
British MPs had been participating in more debates and offering more 
questions for question time in an attempt to influence the metrics on 
TheyWorkForYou. Malesky, Schuler, and Tran (2011) found that Vietnamese 
politicians whose activities were being quantified asked fewer questions 
in their equivalent of question time. (Full citations here: 

So even if it hasn't happened yet in your case, it very well could.

This issue is something the opengov community hasn't tackled very well 
yet. While there have been discussions of purported cases where 
transparency caused harm, the discussions have revolved so far around 
whether there was actual harm and whether transparency was responsible. 
But let's assume there's some actual harm. Could that ever mean we 
shouldn't shine light on particular public records?

A serious question for you: If you found that NosDéputés.fr did in fact 
lower the quality of debate, would that change how you present the 

- Josh Tauberer (@JoshData)


On 09/10/2012 05:26 AM, Benjamin Ooghe-Tabanou wrote:
> Hi everyone,
> We've been quite busy the last two weeks : in addition to helping on
> the declaration's translation, we've been dealing with some public
> criticisms that came from the french minister in charge of the
> relationships between the executive and the parliament. We believe
> these critics are totally unjustified.
> First during a political meeting debating methods to revalorise the
> parliament <http://lelab.europe1.fr/t/la-froide-colere-du-ministre-vidalies-contre-les-effets-pervers-du-net-4446>
> and then in an interview to a news website
> <http://www.pcinpact.com/news/73356-nosdeputes-alain-vidalies-souhaite-pole-reflexion-sur-transparence.htm>,
> Alain Vidalies basically said two things:
> - our numeric criteria being uncomparable (which we claim as well by
> refusing from the start to establish a mixed combination with some
> kind of palmares) would be misused in palmares made by local press.
> - MPs would have started to speak saying repeated things within
> comittee reunions just to appear on our website and therefore would
> pollute the debates and make them slower.
> We've looked through both our press reviews and actual data and could
> not verify any of this. We've actually demonstrated the opposite
> showing that the recent debates were in fact shorter than they used to
> be in the previous years, the only real bump observable being a few
> months before the creation of our website and therefore linked to
> institutionnal reforms rather than us.
> More details in french are in our answer to the interview we've published here:
> http://www.regardscitoyens.org/nosdeputes-fr-%C2%AB-dangereux-%C2%BB-vraiment-nos-reponses-au-ministre-des-relations-avec-le-parlement/
> We've met with the minister and his office since then and it sounds
> like we all would like the relations to be more constructive and that
> we could maybe work together on some colloquium with the institutions
> to discuss improvements on the measurement of parliament activity
> early next year. It is just too bad they did not realize this before
> our open legislative data event in Paris last July... ;)
> We'll publish another blog article in french reporting on our meeting
> with the minister this afternoon.
> Best,
> Benjamin Ooghe-Tabanou for Regards Citoyens

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