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The Little Republic of Saillans, An experiment in participative democracy (La petite République de Saillans, Une expérience de démocratie participative)

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Original Language: French | XXX pp. | February 2020

2 Seas Represents: North American, Dutch and Nordic rights

NARRATIVE NON FICTION

(Rouergue)

In March 2014, as the Front National was making a historic breakthrough in the first round of the local elections, Saillans, a small commune of 1,300 inhabitants in the Valley of the Drôme, was bucking the trend. Citizens completely new to politics decided simply to focus on the community’s priorities without an electoral programme or a single candidate. Success was immediate and unexpected. For the first time, the inhabitants spoke up and reflected collectively on another way of doing local politics. A citizens’ electoral list of twenty-one people was drawn up, but no one sought leadership of it.

On 23 March 2014, this group won the first round with 56.8% of the votes. The mayor was appointed by his peers in his absence at an evening meeting which he could not attend as he was on his shift as a nightwatchman at a centre for disabled adults.

For the last five years, the Saillans experiment has been inventing itself from day to day.