The government prides itself on involving Parliament in its decisions, like the debate in the National Assembly in December 2020 on the vaccine strategy. Why do you think this is insufficient?
Sébastien Jumel Since the start of the health crisis, we have been dealing with a solitary power of a President of the Republic who now takes all the major decisions within the Defense Council and not within the Council of Ministers. The spaces for dialogue with Parliament are formal and are not real places for the co-development of national responses. The rare times that Parliament has been asked to give an opinion, on the deconfinement plan or on vaccines, it has been without a vote and without a prior text.
Examples of humiliations are unfortunately legion: systematic recourse to ordinances, accelerated procedures, texts sent in the morning for amendments at the next hour … The marchers – these start-upers elected by applying on a website – would like to be able to do without parliamentary democracy, which is only made for them to prevent them from going around in circles. This is true with Parliament, but also with local elected representatives. The prefects, each week, bring together the deputies, the mayors of the big cities, but in a logic of information, a top-down, vertical logic. This lack of a method of consultation and, ultimately, of national unity in the fight against the virus, explains the mistrust of the people of France with regard to the management of the health crisis.
A desire for a more direct democracy has been expressed in recent years. Why, in your eyes, the citizens’ committee on the issue of vaccines set up by the executive does not answer it?
Sébastien Jumel They are decoys, gadgets, pretenses. Unfortunately, we have as an experience the Citizen’s Convention for the Climate, which has been largely misled. We are in favor of more direct democracy. For example, we are in favor of lowering the threshold for a shared initiative referendum to 1 million votes, as the President of the Republic committed to doing. But the creation of a citizens’ committee of 34 people drawn by lot when there are so many bodies – the High Authority for Health, the scientific committee, parliamentary inquiry committees, etc. – which meet without being listened to, is really painting solitary decisions with a democratic veneer.
I was mayor (of Dieppe – Editor’s note) for ten years, I set up in my city neighborhood councils, participatory budgets, local democracy bodies … But that implies training, resources, spaces where citizens can rub shoulders with those who make the decisions.
The bill extending the state of health emergency until June is under consideration. Why does the hold of this exceptional regime over time pose a problem?
Sébastien Jumel Between technocracy and democracy, the macronists have chosen, convinced that they are right alone and that the time for deliberation is time wasted. The failure on the masks, on the tests, the ignition delay for vaccines show that they are wrong. I am also worried because making a state of emergency a permanent system undermines the foundations of democracy. Freedom to demonstrate, the rights of Parliament, the separation of powers… these are principles that one should never get used to being weakened. What happened in the United States shows us that democracy is fragile.