It assures that it is “the first” French metropolis to adopt such a text. On closer inspection, Lille and Toulouse have already done the same thing, but who cares. At the end of the year, the elected representatives of Rennes Métropole voted in favor of the adoption of a first “metropolitan charter of citizen participation”. This document has the particularity of having been designed by a citizen jury drawn by lot. For several months, 86 inhabitants chosen at random began to reflect on the role of the community. A way to involve the population at a time when abstention progresses at the same rate as distrust of institutions. What will this charter be used for? 20 minutes posed the question to its signatories.
“When I received the mail, I wondered what it was. I felt like I didn’t belong. I even thought that I would be useless. I came here by chance”. Roseline lives in Langan, one of the last municipalities to have joined the metropolis. Located twenty minutes north of Rennes, the small rural town sometimes finds it difficult to feel concerned by the major policies carried out by the metropolis for all 43 municipalities.
“During the first workshop, it was moaning. Everyone had the impression that things were being imposed on us, that no one was listening to us. And at the end of the weekend, everyone felt like they had participated,” adds the member of the citizen jury. With her, 85 other inhabitants discussed during four meetings to give birth to a long document full of good intentions.
The text adopted, the question now is to know what it will be used for. “The approach is guided by the desire to take into account the voice of citizens. It is not an assembly called upon to express itself for or against such and such a project. It is rather a way to ensure that we have been at the end of the consultation, that everyone has been heard, ”explains Nathalie Appéré (PS) president of the metropolis since 2020. It is common to hear the inhabitants complain about “discovering” a real estate project under their window when the building permit has already been issued. It is to respond to this desire for transparency, inclusion and collective spirit that the text was established.
“I’m waiting to see what it will be used for”
Concretely, the new charter will offer for example a right of questioning as soon as a petition collects 1,000 signatures from at least three municipalities. A participatory budget should also be created, but it will be directed towards climate issues. The elected officials also undertake to consult the inhabitants more in the design of their policy. An example ? The obligation imposed on property builders to offer a balcony or terrace to all apartments built in the metropolis stems from popular demand.
It now remains to be seen how the text will translate into metropolitan politics. Should we fear that this text is a new brick in the French administrative wall? “I was carried away by the process and it opened my mind. But I’m waiting to see what it will be used for. We are expecting something concrete,” warns Roseline.