Low participation, disconnection: the first gloomy assessment of the great national debate

The “Macronie” is preparing to face the European elections against a backdrop of demonstrations that have not stopped for 4 months. The so-called “Great National Debate” scheme, invented to cut short the movement, does not seem to have worked well, as protesters always demand a real dialogue and not a show. According to RT, did the initiative launched several months ago by Emmanuel Macron to counter the mobilisation of the Yellow Vests convince? According to Le Parisien, the most disadvantaged social categories are among the most absent from the debate.

The young and the poor, excluded from the great national debate? In an analysis published on 9 March, Le Parisien explains that it analysed the 334,000 citizen proposals registered under the Macronian initiative, which is nearing completion. A good part of these comes from the Internet platform of the great debate, unprotected from the interference of activists, anonymous and other trolls, as RT France had observed.

“It is an urban, socially privileged and retired France that has expressed itself, at least on the Internet”, analysis by Jérôme Fourquet, director of the public opinion department at the Ifop polling institute, for the daily newspaper in the capital. Several media also noted the low responsiveness of young people to government initiatives.

But who participated “The France that participated is the one that voted Macron”

“The France that participated in this vast survey is the one that voted for Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the presidential election,” Jérôme Fourquet adds. As a result, he notes disparities between the participation of the richest and poorest departments. The illustration is made with Ile-de-France, Paris and the Hauts-de-Seine, which have more than six online contributions per 1,000 inhabitants, far ahead of Seine-Saint-Denis – where the poverty rate is the highest in metropolitan France – with less than four online contributions per 1,000 inhabitants.

Also, the great debate initiated by Emmanuel Macron, and organized by the government outside an independent framework (as originally intended by the National Commission for Public Debate) seems to be, first of all, a Macronian affair.

“The map of non-contributors corresponds to that of the no in Maastricht”, summarizes Jérôme Fourquet, who notes that there is a “civic and democratic divide”.

What will happen in the following months?

After the collection of contributions ends on 15 March, the exercise will continue with regional citizens’ conferences drawn by lot. They will deliver their diagnosis over two weekends, either on March 15-16 or March 22-23, depending on the location.

Debates in the Senate and National Assembly will also take place in early April on the four themes (ecological transition, taxation and public expenditure, democracy and citizenship, state organisation and public services). According to a parliamentary source contacted by the AFP, the government should then make a statement to the National Assembly on 9 April, without a vote.

Sébastien Lecornu also states in Le Journal du dimanche on March 10 that proposals will “run until the summer”.

On 12 March, before the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (ESC), Edouard Philippe also announced that the major debate should lead to a “democratic compromise” on several points. However, it is difficult to make this eventuality plausible when, at the same time, La République en marche and its General Delegate Stanislas Guerini confirm that their proposal is to make employees work an additional day, free of charge, in order to finance the dependence of elderly people. This would be the second day of solidarity after the one set up by the Raffarin government in 2004 to finance… addiction.

Before the final outcome of the great debate, isn’t macronia already throwing oil on the embers of the current social protest?


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