“Citizen participation can nourish democratic deliberation, but it cannot in any case replace it”

Tribune. Strengthening the role of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE) is one of the major projects of Emmanuel Macron’s mandate, in order to promote forms of participatory democracy and thus respond to the growing mistrust targeting public authorities.

In this sense, can the citizens’ committees drawn by lot that emerge in its wake remedy the democratic crisis we are experiencing? Do they not call into question the very principle of universal suffrage and do they not reflect a contempt for elected officials liable to further aggravate the democratic crisis?

Strong success

Following the “yellow vests” crisis, the great national debate had met with great success; an organic law was therefore adopted on December 15, 2020 to extend this great momentum. It enshrines the principle of citizens drawn by lot to work with the EESC and carry the voice of civil society, between Parliament and the executive.

With the citizens’ convention for the climate, this ambition for democratic refreshment had found a first outlet. With the vaccination committee and its thirty-five citizens drawn by lot, it is a question of perpetuating this exercise and making the EESC the chamber of national citizens’ conventions.

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The stated objective of these bodies is laudable: to involve civil speech in the decision-making process through quality citizen deliberation. However, the problem lies elsewhere.

First of all, this vaccination committee is part of an already existing maquis of bodies associated with decisions on the deployment of vaccines: orientation council of the vaccination strategy, scientific committee, citizens’ committee, committee of health professionals, committee. elected officials, civil society committee.

Lack of representative counter-power

Then and above all, as much citizens’ convention for the climate aimed at formulating proposals, as much the committee on vaccination is only responsible for “To make observations and question Alain Fischer” [médecin nommé en décembre pour coordonner la stratégie vaccinale de l’Etat contre la pandémie de Covid-19] in a report submitted “By summer”. It is this point that highlights the inanity of Parliament and underscores the institutional problem of the Ve Republic since the establishment of the five-year term.

With this committee or other announced conventions, such as the one on discrimination, we are faced with an act of political communication which in reality comes to alleviate an institutional problem, namely the poor representation of the electorate within the National Assembly and the lapse of parliamentary power in a regime that has become “presidentialist”.

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