History Lesson: The Participative Vote in Paris
November 6, 2014
Paris has a reputation for its timelessness– its iconic monuments, picture-perfect parks, and artistic history which have all drawn generations of visitors– but at its heart it’s a bustling metropolis, one whose people and ideas are constantly in motion, and one whose officials strive every year to decide how best to ensure that Paris continues to be the vibrant hub of culture we know and love.
Le Budget Participatif
This year, however, the keys to this development are being handed to the citizens of Paris, through an event you may have heard spoken about: “Le budget participatif”, or the participative budgetary vote.
This initiative, spearheaded by the new mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, consists of a popular vote, open to all Parisians “regardless of age or nationality”, on how best to allocate 5% of the yearly budget which the city puts toward funding new public initiatives: A civic investment which will reach an impressive total of 426 million Euros by the project’s end in 2020.
For this first edition of the participative budget, over forty thousand participants voted on 15 projects ranging from the environmental (e.g. the creation of mobile recycling centers) to the artistic (e.g. the restoration of iconic works of public art) from September 24 – October 1. While this year all the projects were proposed by the City of Paris, in future years citizens will be encouraged to submit their own proposals to the participative vote.
Though the concept of the participative vote is not new, originating in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre in 1989, in Paris it’s gained a great deal of support by tapping into the city’s democratic spirit: To many Parisians, it seems only fitting that the home of the French Revolution should give its people a voice in the development of their city. Indeed, most of the criticism that has been levied against the project only argues that the proposed 5% of the budget doesn’t go far enough!
With the results now in, we can see that 9 of the proposed projects have secured funding, with the most popular being the creation of vertical gardens or “green walls” around Paris to combat air pollution, provide a safe haven for birds, and bring new life to some of Paris’ forgotten corners. However, the vote’s biggest winners by far are Paris’ youngest citizens, with projects such as “Giving the streets back to the children” and “Gardening in schools” among the planned developments.
So, as you wander around Paris in these beautiful fall months, keep an eye out for glimpses of the new projects being set up, and if you take advantage of the Fat Tire Tours Paris Day & Paris Night Bike Tour Combo, you’ll get a comprehensive view of the changing face of this ever-renewing city of lights.