Bras-sur-Meuse puts the great national debate within a click’s reach of its inhabitants.

December 2018

During the great national debate at the beginning of 2019, the municipality of Bras-sur-Meuse used its own application to relay the government’s questionnaire. This was an opportunity to test an interactive tool that facilitates debate on both national and local issues.

Territories of intervention

Grand-Est - Meuse

Labelled Ville Internet 5 arobases, Bras sur Meuse is one of those rare rural communes that are very advanced in digital uses, always ready to experiment with new uses. In terms of citizen participation, there has been a closed Facebook group for several years now, strictly reserved for Brazilians. It is a place to debate everyday subjects and where the town hall regularly launches mini polls to solicit the opinions of the inhabitants. « A very effective tool, but one that the municipality does not have complete control over, as Facebook can change its rules and functions at any time » explains Julien Didry, mayor of the municipality.

The municipality, a democratic relay of proximity

On the occasion of the Great National Debate, initiated by the President of the Republic in December 2018, the mayor wished that Brazilians could express themselves. « The municipalities have a role as mediators between the central government and the inhabitants. As a local interlocutor, we are particularly well placed to gather the people’s opinions in a neutral and impartial manner, » he stresses. Therefore, in parallel with the public meeting organised in Verdun by the prefecture « where greying heads tend to dominate », the mayor wanted to test an innovative digital tool, more accessible to the younger generation.

One questionnaire, four sequences

The municipality has opted for the Vooter consultation platform (500 euros/year), which allows online surveys to be carried out while guaranteeing the anonymity of respondents and full control of the data by the community. The survey strictly took up the 80 questions of the great national debate and its four themes: ecological transition, fiscalité́ and public spending, democracy and citizenship, organisation of the State and public services. However, the platform made it possible to sequence the debate - four calls for participation around the four themes - and to spread it over one month. The Numéripôle mobilised its facilitators to help those who wished to install and use the application.

A tool that can be used at any time

In total, some 50 households used the tool, generating more than 800 responses to the open and closed-ended questions designed by the government. « A quite honourable figure considering the 700 inhabitants who populate the commune. Moreover, 30% were young people who we never see at public meetings, » says the mayor. The results of the questionnaire, extracted in a few clicks from the application’s back office, were sent to the prefecture, the association of mayors and members of parliament. The concerns of the inhabitants turned out to be very similar to those that emerged at the national level. Since then, the platform has been mobilised to ask the inhabitants if it would be appropriate to provide financial assistance for the reconstruction of Notre-Dame de Paris. The Brazilians have come out clearly against it. It can now be used at any time by the municipality to solicit the opinion of the inhabitants, with a preference for local subjects, « more likely to mobilise them ».

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