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Frankrigs politiske kultur har i årtier været organiseret som Top-Down system med stærkt centraliserede magtstrukturer.

Hélène Madénian skriver i Participedia artiklen Participatory Budgeting in Paris, France, 21.08.2017:[1]

"The political culture of France has been organized as a top-down and centralized approach for centuries and, since forms of participation are influenced and shaped by the sociopolitical tradition of a country, French citizen participation has been reduced to descending communication and few opportunities have been offered for active participation in decision-making. This culture deems citizens as lacking skills, experience and information to make coherent political judgement in comparison to elected officials. Governing elites share a general distrust of the masses and fear communitarianism. This is a result of a long tradition of Durkheim republicanism in France. However, this tradition is facing criticism, leading to a rise in support for more open, participatory forms of governance."
Since the early 90s, successive administrations have been trying to increase citizen participation at the local level to strengthen democracy. For example, in 2002, the “Loi relative a la démocratie de proximité” (Proximity democracy law) was promulgated. One main contribution of this law is the creation of "Conseil de quartiers" (neighborhood councils), which are micro-level consultative arenas encouraging discussions and debates. They are required for municipalities of over 80,000 people and optional for municipalities of over 20,000 residents. The mayor is free to determine the geographical limit of neighborhoods and the operation rules of the councils. In Paris, there are 123 neighborhood councils composed of residents, community organizers, and elected officials. Each council receives a financial aid of 3,305 euros for operational expenses, and 8,264 euros for investments.
However, the neighborhood councils have had little impact and varied success across the country. According to a report by Les Budgets Participatifs which tracks PB in France and around the world, only 25 out of 36,000 cities have adopted PB in France. Among these 25 cities, 13 have less than 20000 inhabitants, 4 have in between 20000 and 50000 inhabitants, 3 have more than 100000 and finally Paris with more than 1 million people. The implementation of PB at the city level is recent. According to this report, 88% of cities (22 out of 25) adopted PB in 2014, like Paris or Metz, and between 2015 and 2016, this number increased by 64%. An explanation for this increase could be the municipal elections of 2014 and rising enthusiasm for citizen participation. For some candidates, introducing participatory mechanisms in their city was part of their campaign promises to restore public trust, and improve the effectiveness of policy making.
Like in Brazil where "PB emerged out of the cauldron of leftist experimentalism", PB in France has been mostly taken up by left-wing politicians. The report shows that out of 25 PBs, 21 were taking place in cities governed by leftist parties like the Socialist Party, the Green Party or the Communist Party. In the recent presidential elections, the socialist candidate Benoit Hamon, was the only candidate who included PB in his platform. He supported the creation of a national participatory budget of 5 billion euros. Political support is the most important requirement for the development and success of PB and other participatory mechanisms in representative democracy. With this in mind, it will be important to monitor how opportunities for citizen participation develop under Macron’s administration and after the municipal elections in 2020."
1. Participatory Budgeting in Paris, France, oprindelig artikel af Hélène Madénian, Participedia, 21.08.2017:

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