One of the ideas promoted by the yellow-vests who have been protesting against President Macron since last winter is that representative democracy has had its day. With politicians discredited, ordinary people need to take control of public policy. The protesters want direct democracy, by which they mean regular referendums and the replacement of MPs with citizens selected by drawing names out of a hat. They are not going to get that, at least not in the foreseeable future. Mr Macron has, however, taken steps in their direction by selecting 150 ordinary people to develop policies that will enable France to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030 compared with the levels of 1990. In an attempt to deflect critics who say the assembly is little more than a public relations exercise, Mr Macron has pledged to act on its proposals, either asking MPs to vote on them or putting them to a referendum. The participants will spend six, three-day weekends discussing themes such as transport, housing, food, consumerism and work, with experts briefing them regularly. They are being paid €86.24 a day, with expenses for travel and food, and being put up in hotels costing up to €110 a night. Those with children can claim babysitting expenses of up to €18 an hour. More than 250,000 people were telephoned and asked if they wanted to join the convention.
Times 7th Oct 2019 read more »