In 9 months, 7 meetings of 3 days each in the building of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE) in the Palais d'Iéna
In times of high political tensions and complicated by the Covid 19 pandemic, a unique democratic experiment emerged in France: a citizens' council consisting of 150 randomly selected French citizens met over eight weekends to formulate proposals on how France could reduce its carbon footprint by 40% by 2030. The Citizens' Council was convened in response to President Macron's yellow waistcoat protests. Five million euros were made available. He promised that all citizens would vote on the recommendations of the »Citoyenne«. The 150 participants were a representative cross-section of French society and were supposed to find concrete answers to the climate crisis. The panel concluded its work in June 2020. Among the measures formulated were a reduction of the maximum speed on motorways, an extreme investment in train transport and a mandatory overall energy renovation of buildings.
Involving a representative cross-section of French society to develop and formulate clear responses to the climate crisis that combine environmental protection and social justice. Participatory democracy to find solutions and to preserve and strengthen democracy. Citizens' councils should become an integral part of French democracy in the future.
The Convention has received a lot of attention. There is a growing body of literature on deliberative and participatory democracy, as well as literature assessing the success and failure of the convention. There is also a growing demand for similar assemblies in other countries.
Loic Blondiaux (French political scientist) warns that the climate crisis threatens the preservation of our democracies and that new forms of democracy are therefore essential.
So far, it is not clear whether the convention was more than an attempt to legitimise the government or will actually become an effective participatory instrument.
Emmanuel Macron, french government
Citizens' Council of 150 randomly selected citizens of France