You are a careful observer of the mechanisms of participatory democracy for a long time. Do you not feel, with the great debate, a missed appointment?
Loïc Blondiaux I will make a nuanced conclusion, this debate was started in response to a great democratic crisis, that of the yellow jackets, which shows in part to the citizens a strong criticism of the state of our democracy. The answer may seem democratic in the beginning, providing space for debate. With these means, it has no precedent in history and on a global scale. But there are some criticisms to be made in the exercise: the first rejection by the National Commission of the public debate, the explicit will of the government to use it for its communication, the way in which we forced citizens with closed and biased questions on digital platform … Using it to say that the French want, for example, both lower taxation and public spending seem to me a deviation from the very idea of participation.
Loïc Blondiaux Because other elements relativize this aspect. There is no demand for lower taxes, for example, which is not accompanied by a request for greater tax justice. To say, as Édouard Philippe did, that the French did not want the CIP or the restoration of the ISF was a problem: there was no closed question on the RIC on the digital platform. In surveys, three-quarters of the French are favorable … If we look at this time at the free contributions sent, the RIC or ISF occupy a place as important as that of taxation. The way in which the government translates a democratic exercise of immense wealth in a simplistic and politically oriented way seems to me abusive and embarrassing for the very idea of participatory democracy.
The Prime Minister boasts of listening to the request for deliberative democracy and claims to be wary of "direct and permanent media democracy". Isn't he suspicious of both?
Loïc Blondiaux Really recognizing a deliberative democracy would mean putting in place mechanisms that really involve the citizens in the discussion, the deliberation around decisions. They cannot be simple sporadic consultations that do not do much in the rest of the action. We await what Emmanuel Macron will say, but, immediately rejecting the citizen's initiative, the government means that it does not want to change our institutions in the end. With other colleagues, we have presented a proposal for a less ambitious referendum than those for yellow jackets, but it seems entirely possible to include them in constitutional law.
Remains of large documents, digitized and available to researchers …
Loïc Blondiaux One of the good news is actually the opening of all the data. It is precious, prodigious. Already with the 150 pages of the analysis of the contributions, or the remarkable synthesis of the regional conferences, the values brought by the citizens are touched, they are of a complexity and a richness of which the synthesis of the government does not absolutely do not count. Focusing on the symbolic, like 80 km / h, or public spending, there is a form of indifference to what the citizens said during the debate. Even in this less overturned France of the yellow jackets that participated in the debates, there is an extremely powerful desire for social justice and a need expressed by the proximity to the public service. This is obviously what this government does not want to hear, insisting on conclusions perfectly in line with its policy.
Professor of political science at the Paris-I University