Make no mistake about it, there is a form of continuous disengagement since the presidential election of 2017. Of course, the right/left divide has not completely disappeared, but there are other divides that are emerging and that are making local and national political life more complex in the long term. First of all, the legitimacy of elected officials is being questioned and challenges are becoming more and more frequent and radical in the face of devalued democratic institutions. The loss of trust not only in relation to leaders but also in relation to others around us raises the question of what we are capable of pooling. Criticisms of density or metropolises often demonstrate a refusal of the other. Valuation of distance and withdrawal into oneself and one's family. Now it is not enough to simply mix social groups to create conviviality. Many other things have to be put into it, which often makes the urban debate difficult.

tribune1 chapuis

What the June 2020 municipal results tell us

Column by Jean-Yves Chapuis, sociologist, urban planner, elected in Rennes city (France) from 1983 to 2014, former vice-president at the Rennes Metropolis and director of the school of architecture in Rennes. He is now an advisor in urban strategy.

Make no mistake about it, there is a form of continuous disengagement since the presidential election of 2017. Of course, the right/left divide has not completely disappeared, but there are other divides that are emerging and that are making local and national political life more complex in the long term.

First of all, the legitimacy of elected officials is being questioned and challenges are becoming more and more frequent and radical in the face of devalued democratic institutions. The loss of trust not only in relation to leaders but also in relation to others around us raises the question of what we are capable of pooling. Criticisms of density or metropolises often demonstrate a refusal of the other. Valuation of distance and withdrawal into oneself and one's family. Now it is not enough to simply mix social groups to create conviviality. Many other things have to be put into it, which often makes the urban debate difficult.

The environmental issue is of growing concern to the French and this is spreading to all strata of society. This is a new point. But it goes well beyond the Green Party (EELV) and it will raise a certain number of questions that will divide us rather than unite us, as Pierre Charbonnier aptly puts it. "Ecology can appear as an opportunity for some, and as a luxury, even a burden for others. Some can integrate ecological standards into their lives in the form of improved health and living conditions, while others are forced by job blackmail and the cost of living to remain prisoners of the automobile, industrial food and energy insecurity. »

It can also go through a cleavage that is within everyone: am I going to spend my vacations in France and not take a plane to go abroad so as not to have too many CO2 emissions?

More philosophically, the question will arise of being able to limit oneself personally and collectively. This is where the democracy of knowledge takes on its full meaning in defining these limits.

The decline of public speech makes the debate difficult. Expressing an ambitious project that goes beyond a budget or upcoming elections becomes almost impossible. The economic system in which we live has allowed people to have a rising standard of living, it has allowed people to enter the consumer society. Today we feel that we have to go beyond this, otherwise the risks related to the climate and new forms of inequality become unbearable. But how can we embark on a new path, are we each capable of taking our fate into our own hands? Do we really want to? It is clear that since 2017 society has been looking for a new political horizon. Yet we find ourselves in a denial that is as follows: nature will always have the last word. Technologies that are there to overcome the natural limitations of human freedom and comfort are also capable of destroying the ozone layer and making the earth uninhabitable. These are obvious facts, but accepting these facts is difficult in our modern societies, the fantasy of human technological autonomy indicates that our narcissistic culture does not accept limits, as Christopher LASCH beautifully explains. The world is not only there for the satisfaction of our desires, others have a right to it too. Democracy must collectively define what we want, even if it means being against ourselves for a moment.

Vast debate, strong demand and permanent vigilance.

Illustration : © Abstract vector créé par pch.vector - www.freepik.com

Back to previous page


International Urban Development Association

A global membership association of urban policy-makers and practitioners to share knowledge, experience and tools for integrated territorial development.  // READ MORE