On the occasion of the results of the municipal elections in France, our partner Action Commune shared via a press release its analysis of the emergence of municipalism in France and the results of the municipal elections.
Bearing in mind the impact of this particular context on the conduct of the elections, and the welcome retreat of the extreme right, we draw four lessons from these results:
1. A clear mistrust of our representative system, illustrated by a record abstention rate of almost 60%.
2. Growing support for the ecological and social transition, embodied by the green wave that is overturning major French cities (Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Tours, Lyon, etc.).
3. A feminisation of politics: 23.1% of candidate lists were led by women in the first round (40.7% at the head of the participatory lists!), and major French cities were won by women (Paris, Lille, Nantes, Strasbourg, Marseille).
4. But also, a strong breakthrough of citizens’ movements with the participative lists*, which have largely contributed to reversing the electoral game in large and medium-sized cities, such as Poitiers, Annecy, Chambéry, Rezé, and in small towns, such as St Médard-en-Jalles, La Montagne, Nogent-le-Rotrou, Bourg-Saint-Maurice…
However, it would be very simplistic to comment on the results through the usual categories of analysis that are limited to political parties. Indeed, political labelling (translator’s note : specific categories used in France to identify political parties such as DVG for left-handed parties , DVD for right-handed parties , PS for socialist party, EELV for ecologist/green party… etc.) does not recognise the existence of citizen and participatory lists. Moreover, this same system does not highlight the weight of citizens’ movements in alliances. And finally, many “citizens’ lists” have only the name, not the practices or values.
At the end of these elections, they are :
– 66 participatory lists were elected1In the 2014 municipal elections, only one participatory list won the elections, that of Saillans in the Drôme, in addition to a few dozen other lists with democratic ambitions. ;
– 1324 majority municipal councillors;
– 638 opposition municipal councillors;
– 408 local collectives that emerged all over France during these elections;
– 279,016 local unhabitants who voted for these participatory lists.
Some lists have chosen to receive the support of political parties on the condition that they have complete autonomy in the conduct of their campaign and the writing of their programmes with residents; others have made this a red line. Some opted for a strategic alliance at the time of the second round, while others preferred not to play the party game, or even withdrew to continue to exist outside the municipal institution in the form of citizens’ collectives or local assemblies. Yet one ambition brings them together: to build local forces made up of inhabitants, with the will to collectively reinvent the way their communes are managed, how decisions are taken, how power is distributed.
Other bigger cities were even on the verge of toppling over. This is the case of Toulouse, for example, where the “Archipel citoyen” collective lost only 48.4% to the LR (translator’s note : les Républicains, right-handed major political party) list after an intense campaign that mobilized collective intelligence and participation of residents in all neighbourhoods.
A veritable citizen’s wave, then. But also a slap in the face.
How can we talk about victory and democracy, in the face of the tidal wave of abstention? While the mayor remains the “favourite” elected official of the French2According to a poll conducted by Odoxa for CGI, France Info, France Bleu and La Presse en région in 2019., the 60% national abstention rate is a sad record, but it cannot in any way be perceived as a lack of interest on the part of citizens in local public life, nor can it be explained solely by the health context.
Our political representatives must face the facts: the people reject the democratic system as it works today.
The results of these municipal elections call on our elected representatives, civil society and citizens to mobilize in favour of the necessary democratic, ecological and social transformation of our societies. Because our representative democracy has never been so out of breath. Because the health crisis has revealed deep social inequalities and reminded us of the environmental consequences of our lifestyles.
These new municipalities will make the difference in the coming years, because they are committed to a long-term democratic dynamic, which no longer boils down to convening residents once every six years, but to involving them fully and systematically in the governance of their municipality.
Faced with the scale of this burgeoning citizens’ movement and the pugnacity of those who are fighting to live better and differently, we have only one thing to tell them: “Bravo, and bon courage! ” Because it will be necessary for these elected representatives who will soon take up their functions and discover their new responsibilities, as it will be necessary for all the citizens’ collectives who will continue to mobilize day after day for their city, their village, their district, sometimes without the support of their town hall.
A participatory list brings together residents who decide to put democratic transformation at the heart of their municipal process. They place cooperation at the heart of their project in order to move away from the role of the mayor and the all-powerful elected officials. They define a new way of functioning in the municipality that organises co-decision between residents, users, municipal officials and elected representatives. The participatory lists consider that the primary role of the elected representative is to design, lead and guarantee the processes of local democracy. In contrast, elected representatives think about their territory and decide for and in the place of the inhabitants and users. This democratic revolution only makes sense if it is at the service of political orientations. The participatory lists all carry projects for the ecological and social transformation of their territory.
This press release was written and published by Action Commune, and translated by Commonspolis in english and spanish.
Discover the mapping of municipalist lists in Action Commune website and the support tools for elected or non-elected lists : actioncommune.fr