POINT OF VIEW : The abstention massive during the municipal elections of 2020 puts into question the legitimacy of elected representatives. More fundamentally, it challenges us as to the diversity of the foundations of the legitimacy and their articulation. A new democratic order ?
58,4% of abstention at the 2nd round of the municipal elections of 28 June 2020 ! A real earthquake…
The causes are multiple : lack of challenge, secession democratic, laziness, citizen, consumerism, electoral, loss of confidence, even defiance, in the institutions and elected officials, disaffiliation partisan…
This results in a weakening of the legitimacy of elected representatives. Remember that, Emmanuel Macron, elected in 2017, with 66% of the votes cast in the second round, has gathered about his name than 8.7 million votes in the first round, or 18% of the people registered on the electoral lists. He is today President of the Republic… Peter Hurmic, just elected Mayor EELV of Bordeaux, with 46.5% of the vote in the second round and 62% of forbearance, has, in fact, been designated by 17.5% of the citizens registered on the electoral lists. Worse, in the first round, it has met only 12.5 percent of these same voters. Emmanuel Macron and Pierre Hurmic are no less legitimate in the institutional sense of the term. So far, these numbers are dramatic and worrying, and raise the question of their legitimacy in the democratic sense.
Should we oppose institutional legitimacy, and democratic legitimacy ? The answer is not simple;
The sources of legitimacy are multiple and competitive : representative democracy (elections, referendum, Conventions, civic and social democracy (unions), draw, democracy of opinion (mass media and social networks), participatory democracy, mobilization of citizens, direct democracy, petitions, judicial legitimacy (power of judges) or scientific (power of experts)…
Historically and institutionally, the representative democracy, which is expressed by voting and electing representatives is considered, rightly, as being at once the most legitimate and the most effective from the point of view of the governance of our institutions.
It must not, however, consider themselves as the one and despise or ostraciser other forms of democratic expression. Quite the contrary ! The issue today, while reaffirming the precedence of the representative democracy, that articulate all of the sources of democratic legitimacy. These will complement, compete with, feed on each other.
For the elect, ” classic “, whether they are local or national, it is a sacred exercise, and a hell of a difficulty. But they don’t have the choice ! Quite the contrary, this capacity to regenerate, to feed and to compare these other forms of democratic expression is the best way to reaffirm and consolidate their legitimacy marred by the abstention.
The historian and sociologist Pierre Rosanvallon has understood. He distinguishes, and rightly so, in the democratic process, the time commitment and the time of the government, the latter being often one of confrontation with the real and therefore of disillusionment. Learning about and integrating the different sources of democratic legitimacy in their governance, the elected officials from the representative democracy can find a way to preserve their role and their legitimacy.
Let us recall two fundamental points :
1. Democracy is neither a bracket nor a delegation. It does not apply only to the election at which it entrusts “the keys to the truck” to elect without any form of control. It is a process, a continuum and an ongoing dialogue.
2. Democracy is not a simple mechanism. You can have ” on paper “, the institutions of the most democratic in the world, it is not enough. Democracy is also about values, practices, cultures and attitudes.
Xavier Brunschvicg is an expert in communication. Founder of www.clashman-corp.com
Author(s): Xavier Brunschvicg for FranceSoir