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La Fabrique de la Loi

Does the Parliament make the law?

Opening the French legislative process blackbox through parliamentary data exploration in collaboration with CEE and Regards Citoyens. The datascape LaFabriqueDeLaLoi.fr allows anyone to follow every step of the legislative procedure for more than 1000 bills since 2008.

Research

At the intersection of parliamentary informatics and digital social sciences, The Law Factory is a project conducted as a partnership between two research laboratories at Sciences Po, the médialab and the CEE, and the volunteer-based hacktivists association Regards Citoyens. The website LaFabriqueDeLaLoi.fr, which became first available online in 2014 with a limited subset of bills, now allows anyone to follow every step of the legislative procedure for nearly 1000 bills promulgated since 2008.

Led as a collaboration between Regards Citoyens, a citizen NGO which has monitored the French Parliament's work through its project NosDéputés.fr since 2009, and two research laboratories at Sciences Po Paris, the médialab, specialized in digital methods, and experts in parliamentary/legislative studies from the Centre d’Études Européennes, « The Law Factory » project works on the French legislative process to answer a simple question: does the Parliament actually write the law, or are MPs only validating the executive’s drafts, as most people commonly assume? Initiated between 2012 and 2014 with the financial support of Île-de-France region and design input by Density Design Lab, the project has restarted since 2017 thanks to the support of the LIEPP.

What is the specific impact of the Parliament as a law institution? Are the adopted amendments substantive or cosmetic? Does the legislative influence of the Parliament originate from the majority, the committees’ experts, parliamentary front or backbenches? Is the law tracking process the same in the Senate and in the Assembly, during the first and the second reading, at the beginning or at the end of legislature? To answer all these question, we needed to open the blackbox of the legislative procedure by both producing data on the functioning of parliamentary democracy and developing an original instrument of visualization and analysis of the parliamentary phase of the legislative process under the form of a datascape: TheLawFactory.fr.

Concretely, the project's team monitors the evolution of the bills from their original version to their official promulgation in the Journal Officiel, in order to analyse temporally and quantitatively nearly all promulgated laws, observe the degree of modification of their articles text via a color code, or explore speeches and amendments attributed to a certain article or a specific elected representative.

Targeting political scientists, this initiative is also made available to anyone, citizens, journalists, activists or even lobbyists, in order to democratize the understanding of the multiple steps composing the législative process of forging the law.