OPINION

Professional deputies

The die was cast when Parliament passed the constitutional amendment that bars deputies from keeping their previous jobs. The two main parties saw the rule of incompatibility as a good opportunity to show determination in promoting transparency and for upgrading Parliament. The amendment passed because a considerable number of lawmakers already see themselves as professional politicians. This class of politicians includes mainly party officials who have no professional career or who have never exercised any profession. This does not mean that they are less capable, but having a Parliament made up of such persons only would be detrimental to our democracy. This is important because it has a direct impact on the critical issue of deputies’ freedom of conscience. A professional deputy is more vulnerable to corruption because putting his re-election above everything else makes him dependent on the party leader and on powerful business and media barons. Cutting off a deputy from his profession, even temporarily, renders him susceptible to outside influence. Freedom of conscience is really hard to find these days and the rule of incompatibility will further trouble those who strive to preserve it. The rule is also a counter-incentive for those good men and women wishing to enter Parliament. On the other hand, allowing a deputy to keep his job may nourish unfair competition. His professional capacity can win him, or give the impression of, preferential treatment. Once again, we have swung from one extreme to the other. These problems cannot be tackled with such sweeping solutions. Representing the people is not a profession. For those who enjoy a post and a wage, leaving their job is no problem. For the rest, however, the measure means more than a loss of income; it inevitably means crippling their careers.