The French city of Marseille is investing in the future with a citizens' assembly. In view of the major challenges awaiting everyone in the city, randomly selected residents of the city are to think together about the city of tomorrow.
The citizens' assembly should be
- a democratic instrument that makes it possible to work on medium and long-term projects and to promote their translation into visible action
- an instrument of inclusion, enabling those who are excluded from current democratic procedures to articulate themselves
- an instrument of redress to transform powerlessness into power to act
- an experimentation tool that contributes to building civic capacity
The randomly selected participants of the Future Council should work on topics that deal with the city of tomorrow, its transformation and its resilience to climate change, for example. The use of sortition should guarantee a diversity of participating citizens. "This will be a key element in the richness and representativeness of the Citizens' Assembly's recommendations," explains Sébastien Barles, Deputy Mayor of Marseille.
100 assembly members
The Future Assembly will consist of 100 citizens aged 16 and over, drawn annually from the city's population. They are to represent the diversity of the inhabitants and the characteristics of the city districts. The assembly will
- consist of 60 per cent of residents randomly selected from the electoral roll
- 16 per cent will be made up of young people between the ages of 16 and 18 who will be recruited through a call for applications in the city's secondary schools
- 24 per cent of residents who are not registered on the electoral roll (especially foreign nationals). To this end, there should be support from organisations that have contact with the relevant population groups
The citizens' assembly will work in four thematically delimited committees in addition to the plenary sessions. The Future Council can formulate wishes or opinions, propose a decision to the city council and evaluate political decisions and measures.
Recourse to other citizens' assembly models
The Future Assembly will be convened for the first time in November 2022. The composition of the participants will be based on various other citizens' assembly models. For example, the procedure of the Demokratiekonvent (Democracy Convention) in Frankfurt/Main, where one third of the participants are recruited through organisations and institutions that represent oder have contact with population groups that cannot be reached and mobilised in any other way. These are, for example, homeless people, people with a migration history, people with physical disabilities, people with diverse sexual orientations or people whose living conditions hardly allow them to participate in participation processes.
The fact that young people will be more strongly represented in the Citizens' Assembly than their share of the population was already the case in the randomly selected citizens' panels that took place in the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe between May 2021 and 2022. This was justified by the fact that questions about the future primarily concern young people.