Towards a French-style municipalism?
In the context of the March 2020 municipal elections, Open Source Politics is supporting three citizen collectives in the deployment of their participatory platform. A look at a political movement closely linked to the history of Decidim: municipalism.
A movement "of the citizens, by the citizens, for the citizens
Establishing participatory and inclusive governance
Municipalism is a political project that places citizens at the centre of public decision-making. Both urban and rural, it seeks to reintroduce people into the political space and advocates participatory, transparent and effective governance. Through the establishment of popular assemblies and the acceptance of conflict, municipalism re-establishes a form of horizontality in decision-making.
Making political space a place for citizen emancipation
It is about citizens taking ownership of issues that concern them directly: the housing crisis, the failure of public services (electricity, transport, etc.), ecology, discrimination, the reception of refugees and the feminisation of public life. Municipalism sees the city above all as a place to live and a place to help each other. It invites residents to refocus on fundamental values: solidarity, cooperation, social justice, dignity, ethics, etc.
Municipalism, through its struggles and values, therefore intends to respond to issues located as close as possible to the citizens, thus justifying its action at the local level.
2015 in Spain: the new wave of municipal experiments
In the face of disruption, mobilisation
The 2008 financial crisis, the climate crisis, the refugee crisis, the political crisis...: municipalism emerged from a convergence of crises and struggles (the Indignant movement, 2011) which took shape in the Spanish municipal elections of 2015. Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Zaragoza, Cadiz and others were won by citizen collectives.
What does it say?
Although the record is not perfect (among other things, there is criticism of security policy and the difficulty of governance within an increasingly centralised Spanish state), the municipalities in question have taken up the most pressing issues, such as democratising access to housing or the municipalisation of certain public services (beaches in Cadiz, funeral parlours in Madrid and water in Barcelona). They have also set up participatory democracy systems, both in the city (like the Madrid 'citizens' laboratories') and online.
The origins of Decidim
In 2015, Madrid City Council created its own free software(Decide Madrid), a collaborative platform from which citizens can submit their proposals to the people of Madrid in a referendum, if they have the online support of at least 1% of the inhabitants. In addition, the city council has set up a voting system and a participatory budget of 30 million euros in 2019.
The Barcelona City Council has invested more than two million euros in the development of the Decidim platform. A true digital commons, Decidim is consistent with the values of municipalism both in its construction and in the tools it offers: open governance of the software, open source technology and the provision of multiple participatory features. The software, originally designed to establish the Barcelona Municipal Action Plan, covered 33,000 participants, 14,000 proposals of which almost 10,000 were accepted, 5,500 results, 13 debates and almost 200,000 supporters. This was the beginning of a unique experience to which Open Source Politics was linked.
2020 municipal elections: municipal collectives supported by Open Source Politics
In France, for the municipal elections of March 2020, there are many municipal lists: our partner Action Commune counts more than 150. Open Source Politics accompanies three of them with Decidim : We are, Let's wake up Annecy and Grenoble en commun.
Based on the principles of collective self-management, distribution of power and transparent governance, the Montpellier collective We are allows the co-construction of its programme through its Decidim platform.
The process is much the same for the Citizen's Factory, a platform of Let's wake up AnnecyThe 198 contributions are currently being validated by a citizens' parliament .
Finally, the Fabrique, set up for the participatory campaign of Grenoble en communcampaign, has 680 proposals, 244 of which came from physical meetings. Since 2014, Grenoble has been following the municipalist trend by allowing citizens to get involved through a system of voting, questioning, neighbourhood unions and a participatory budget.
Municipalism, a political movement that aims to change political practices in depth, presents itself as a credible response to current social crises. The use of participatory digital platforms, when backed by local democratic strategies, contributes to these reflections on the transparency of public action and the recognition of citizens' expertise. In this period of municipal elections in France, which sees several collectives co-constructing their programme with the help of a Decidim platform, it would seem that the claims made by municipalism are becoming even more firmly rooted in the debate. With a nod to history: the Decidim digital platform is the fruit of past municipalist experiences, but also the instrument of future municipalist projects.