06:42 GMT28 October 2020
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    The yellow vests-proposed "citizens' initiative referendum" (RIC) may pave the way for the rise of a French sixth Republic where the people of France will finally be heard by their government, journalist and author Gilbert Mercier told Sputnik, stressing that the ongoing crisis is not a problem specific to France but a far broader issue.

    Yellow vests protesters came up with a referenda initiative which appears to be nothing short of a push to revive democracy, according to Gilbert Mercier, a French journalist, serving as the editor-in-chief of the News Junkie Post and the author of "The Orwellian Empire".

    "It is at large an extremely positive idea, providing that it is not used by financial interest and/or foreign interest to serve specific agendas," Mercier told Sputnik.

    A "citizens' initiative referendum" (RIC) is one in the list of demands released in late November by the yellow vests movement. In accordance with the 42-item list, any policy proposal gathering 700,000 signatures should be considered in a referendum.

    On 17 December, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that there is a debate on holding the RIC, endorsing the initiative and admitting that the French government "made mistakes".

    In his article "Gilets Jaunes Referendum by Initiative of Citizens (RIC): Push to Revive a Democracy", Mercier argues that yellow vests protesters "understand that the current democratic process is a farce, and that democracy itself has become an illusion".

    "France's new Sans-Culottes will not be satisfied any longer with crumbs, or even loaves of bread: instead they want control of the bakery. The Gilets Jaunes want more than money, food and stuff, they demand respect, dignity, and attention," the journalist wrote.

    Speaking to Sputnik, Mercier highlighted that the Gilets Jaunes protests exposed the decades-long problem that affects not only France: "It's a global systemic problem of capitalist development which affects even China and Russia since the fall of the USSR".

    "In brief, the Gilets Jaunes movement is, in essence, an anti-capitalist movement which does not use Marxist lingo or ideology, but a lot of ideas concerning what Marx called 'the class struggle'," he said.

    Commenting on the ongoing rise of conservative forces in Europe, the journalist highlighted that the yellow vests uprising has nothing to do with the promotion of the right-wing political agenda in the EU.

    Likewise, yellow vests are not close to the French Right and Marine Le Pen's National Rally (RN), he added.

    "The Gilets Jaunes movement is a lot closer to the French Insoumise of Jean-Luc Melenchon than to the RN of Le Pen," the journalist pointed out.

    In his op-ed, Mercier suggested that the yellow vests movement "could mark the end of an era and the beginning of a French sixth Republic, where the excessive power in the executive branch is diminished".

    He explained that the French constitution currently has two types of referenda: The first one can be only called by the president and has been used nine times during the fifth Republic; the second one was established in 2008 and enshrined in Article 11 of the French Constitution. It is called a "referendum of shared initiative" and it has never been used since then, the author emphasised. This referendum can be kicked off if it has support of one-fifth of the members of parliament and the backing of one-tenth of registered voters (4.5 million citizens.)

    "The Gilets Jaunes are calling for four types of RIC," Mercier elaborated. "Firstly, the ability for any French citizen registered voter to propose a law; secondly, the right to propose the abrogation of any legislation; thirdly, the ability for any citizen to petition for the destitution of any elected official; and finally the right to call for an amendment to the constitution".

    This type of direct democracy is nothing new for Europe — it has been used in Switzerland, Italy and Great Britain.

    "Direct democracy in France is a thrilling proposition, provided that it is not motivated by meanness, anger, racism or is secretly financed by various entities," the journalist underscored.

    The views and opinions expressed by the contributors do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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