Representative democracy in danger
If Democracy is the government of the people by the people, there are many ways to turn it into a diversion according to the interests of the dominant people. Who do not hesitate to democratically change the rules to prevent the people from governing. To ensure the permanence of dominant’s power. Last example: the privatization of Paris Airport (ADP).
Alas, this diversion of democracy is not a French specialty. It is found, in forms adapted to each country, in all so-called democratic countries. It is not surprising that, everywhere, the first party is that of non-participants in the elections. They are obviously too biased.
In France, the rules are a mixture of presidential and parliamentary system that allows a minority to seize power: the president has won the votes of less than a fifth of adults in the country, it has an overwhelming majority and unconditional in the National Assembly. This makes it the absolute master of the agenda and legislative initiative.
Jacques Chirac was elected, in the second round of the presidential election, with a comfortable majority of votes, not for his program but to block Le Pen father. Elected, he forgot who made him president. Emmanuel Macron, champion of a new world, has understood the old one. Elected, under the same conditions, in front of Le Pen daughter, he took the opportunity to satisfy his real constituents to the detriment of the majority of those who voted for him.
Finally, a yellow explosion leads everyone to recognize that there is a small anomaly: it would be necessary to put, a little, in play the neglected intermediate bodies, to discuss, a little, to explain to the people the intelligent measures inflicted for its good …
After 6 months of yellowing, 3 months of Gand Débat National (1) – conscientiously used as a mid-term election campaign and to prepare for the European elections – President Macron took off the double democratic advance he had set: in the face of the citizen’s initiative referendum (RIC) claim, he proposes a facilitation of the RIP, référendum d’initiative partagée ie referendum of shared initiative (2) – with a reduction of the number of necessary signatures – and a significative proportion in the legislative elections.
The future of these proposals, however, is uncertain.
First of all, it must be emphasized that the initiative is not shared: only parliamentarians (deputies and senators) can trigger the process. They must be 185 to make the request. They were 248 (PS, PC, LR, FI) on the privatization project of Paris Airport.
This initiative must then be recognized by the Constitutional Council, a well-known assembly of extremist antiparliamentarians, perhaps discreetly infiltrated by Gilets Jaunes (yellow vests). Anyway, this second stage is crossed.
But the authorization of the Constitutional Council does not mean that the referendum will take place. First, it is necessary to obtain the agreement of more than 10% of the electorate, ie more than 4.7 million signatures within 9 months. If successful, to block the eventual referendum, it will be enough then that the National Assembly or Senate seize the proposal. This will allow the large presidential majority in the National Assembly.
All in all, it is not a referendum but the possibility of putting a subject on the Parliament’s agenda. It is not a shared initiative but a parliamentary initiative supported by a significant portion of the citizens. Which does not seem to question parliamentary democracy. On the contrary, it gives an opportunity for initiative to parliamentarians who must receive the support of citizens in a clearly defined constitutional framework.
The day after the decision of the Constitutional Council, the title ADP fell on the stock market of 9.73%. Editorial editors panic. Democracy is in danger!
Yet the decision to privatize everything is widely disputed. The exemplary nature of the past privatization of highways is strongly questioned: some even speak of the calamitous precedent of the privatization of motorway companies. The economic and financial interest of such privatization is strongly discussed. Like the announced hydroelectric dams.
These privatizations are not required by the European Union. They simply aim to relieve today’s budget constraints to the detriment of permanent financial inflows.
For the Government, if each time a majority passes a law, 185 parliamentarians can delay its application by more than 9 months, this would create a dangerous situation for the conduct of public action.
But all the way knows that the Constitutional Council is there to limit, according to the law, the possibility of RIP, in certain cases envisaged by the Constitution: organization of the public authorities … reforms relating to the economic, social or environmental policy … The ratification of a treaty.
This risk, even if it is limited, will not lead the President of the Republic to rush to instil, as announced, a little proportional in the legislative elections. This could only increase the number of opponents in the National Assembly likely to put again at stake a possible RIP.
This will comfort the president in his desire to reduce the number and means of MPs and senators.
After 6 months of demonstrations of the GJ, supported, according to the polls, by the population despite the strong repression and the imprecations radio-televised, in spite of 3 months of Great debate, the answers that proposed Emmanuel Macron to answer the demand of the RIC seem badly gone.
There is a good chance that the President of the Republic regains wisdom and sacrifices his desire to facilitate the RIP and to introduce a significant proportional proportion.
We have known for a long time. It is the people who rule if they want what the dominant people want. If not, there is always a way around its will. In strength or softness.
The circumvention of the results of the 2005 referendum, which had not been requested by a RIP, it did not exist at the time, has shown. And the passage in force of the law on work. And the brutal repression of yellow vests … And tomorrow ???
Failing to restore the ISF, if not facilitate the RIP, if not proportional, the president may delete the ENA that no one has requested. It is not sure that it satisfies and les Giets jaunes, and the population.
Who puts a risk to democracy, representative or not, already sick? Those who want to limit or eliminate a possibility of parliamentary initiative that has never been used since 2008? Those who want to reduce the number of parliamentarians and their means? Those who want to go into force to impose measures that compromise the future and are rejected even by the support of the powers that be?
No, it is obviously those who demonstrate, whether trade unionists or Gilets jaunes to defend the general interest against the privatization of national investments depreciated for a long time and now profitable?
Is this the answer to les Gilets jaunes? Or will it need the irruption of Gilets rouges to convince the oligarchs?
1 – Great Debate, to give the floor back to the French on the development of public policies that concern them and relate, among others, democracy and citizenship …
2 – Constitutional Law of 23 July 2008 on the modernization of the institutions of the Fifth Republic adopted almost unanimously by the right and center parliamentarians. Contested during its first attempt at application: it becomes a serious problem of democracy according to the entourage of the Prime Minister.