For the attention of the (new) Members
of Parliament: public finance is at the heart
of your decisions!
“Taking a stance on community affairs” requires an “understanding of the issue at hand and the ability to grasp what is at stake”. While the council makes sense and may concern everyone, implementing it is not straightforward when it comes to matters that concern public finance. For a large part of the population, the inner-workings and challenges of public finance are considered particularly opaque and difficult to decipher. This subject is often met with people jumping to conclusions, with simplistic views that reveal the most outdated ideological assumptions repeated year after year. In general, public finance suffers from a negative or even daunting portrayal that creates an obstacle to being understood not only by citizens but also by lessexperienced representatives.
Indeed the matter is not simple. Composed of particularly entangled processes within which a great variety of national and international factors interact, public finance forms a complex arrangement and therefore a system that is not easily controlled. Yet another reason why it is imperative that all elected officials in charge of public matters take an interest. It is just as important that public financial governance does not limit itself to separately treating the various components of the public financial system. It is important to recognize that economic, legal and political analyses as well as managers continue to proliferate without any broad-based debate, in other words without considering the underlying issues that encompass all of the components that are at stake with the goal of developing a project, a direction for the public finance of tomorrow and consequently for the society of tomorrow. This flaw is extremely detrimental not only from an economic but also a political and social point of view especially in terms of the quality of life of future generations.
However the need to invent innovative public financial governance and consequently to invent a new State also depends on educating citizens and developing a “collective intelligence” or even “intelligence networks”. Because institutional creation is only possible by increasing and sharing knowledge. The transformation of contemporary society is part of the booming knowledge-based economy, i.e. an economy in which knowledge, know-how, skills and creativity are essential.
Members of Parliament, you have taken on a world which is built on a long-term path of movement, uncertainty and continuous reform. Accordingly, your ability to face the complex challenge of interpreting, organising and controlling increasingly entangled phenomena requires support from a network embodying diverse knowledge. This will represent a fundamental challenge. In this framework, it is also necessary to reinvent the public financial system, reimagining it from the current context towards a world in transition.
As a step in this direction, it is first the political character of public finance that must be understood. It represents the core and substance of political powers by determining power and change. More broadly, public finance always reflects the choices of society. Present everywhere, its organisation and rules hold considerable influence on the day-to-day life of both individuals and businesses. At the heart of all major questions on contemporary society, public finance is decisive for democracy and for addressing people’s needs. The quality of the social contract is at the forefront of public finance.
This is why you as Members of Parliament, with your skills and knowledge of public finance are the key to ensuring its sustainability.
 Weil E., Philosophie politique (Political philosophy), Vrin, 1985 (4th edition).
 See conferences, symposiums, publications and films by FONDAFIP (www.fondafip.org).
 See major public finance challenges on Youtube : https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=michel+bouvier
 See Bouvier M., Esclassan M.-C., Lassale J.-P., Manuel de Finances publiques, (Public finance manual) 15th ed., 2017, LGDJ-Lextenso. See also Bouvier M., “Repenser et reconstruire les finances publiques de demain” (Rethinking and rebuilding the public finance of tomorrow) in Réformes des finances publiques, démocratie et bonne gouvernance (Public finance reform, democracy and good governance) (under the supervision of Bouvier M.), LGDJ, 2004.