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Pourquoi détestons-nous autant nos politiques

Interview d'E. Grossman et N. Sauger
  • @nuvolanevicata shutterstock.com_.jpg.@nuvolanevicata shutterstock.com_.jpg.

Nous sommes souvent séduits par leurs promesses, mais, très vite, ils nous déçoivent. Est-ce dû à leur inefficacité ? À leur supposée corruption ? Ou au pessimisme des Français, réputés impossibles à gouverner ? En somme, pourquoi détestons-nous autant nos politiques ? Dans l’ouvrage au titre éponyme qu’ils publient aux Presses de Sciences Po, Emiliano Grossman et Nicolas Sauger, chercheurs au Centre d’études européennes de Sciences Po, s’interrogent sur cet étrange mal… qui n’est pas que français et relève plutôt d’un malaise européen. Interview.

L'opinion des Français sur nos classes dirigeantes est-elle une exception en Europe ?

Nicolas Sauger : Hélas non ! Partout en Europe, on observe une défiance croissante à l’égard des gouvernements. Mais la France est allée plus vite et plus loin dans cette défiance. "Sortir les sortants" est devenue une constante de la vie politique française, et ce, bien plus que dans nos pays voisins. Le point de départ du livre est ce constat d’un cycle répété de la déception à l’égard de la politique en France, après chaque élection. Et c’est cela que l’on essaie d’expliquer.

Les Français n’ont-ils pas raison d’être déçus ?

Emiliano Grossman : En fait, ce que l’on observe d’abord, c’est que les Français ont de grandes attentes vis-à-vis de leurs politiques. Ils sont souvent enthousiastes pendant les campagnes électorales. Et si l’on compare la France à ses voisins, on voit que les Français ne sont pas victimes de politiques publiques plus inefficaces ou d’élites politiques plus corrompues qu’ailleurs. Et contrairement à une image largement répandue, ce n’est pas non plus parce que les Français sont d’éternels insatisfaits.

Alors pourquoi cette crise de confiance ?

Nicolas Sauger : La réponse que l’on développe dans notre ouvrage est que les origines de la crise sont à trouver dans les institutions mêmes de la Ve République. Ces institutions ne sont pas la cause de tous nos maux, mais elles amplifient cette défiance par le décalage qu’elles créent entre des attentes fortes développées pendant les campagnes électorales, et des réalisations forcément plus modestes une fois les élus au pouvoir. Par ailleurs, face à cette attente et compte-tenu de la la centralité de l’élection présidentielle, les candidats à la Présidence ont tendance à exagérer leur capacité à résoudre les problèmes.

Faut-il alors réfléchir à une refonte en profondeur des institutions de la Ve République comme le proposent plusieurs candidats ?

Emiliano Grossman : Non, ce n’est pas notre proposition. Nous suggérons effectivement quelques réformes aménageant l’architecture actuelle de nos institutions. Nous proposons par exemple la coïncidence des élections présidentielles et législatives, le passage à un système plus proportionnel pour l’élection de nos députés et un approfondissement de la limite au cumul des mandats, en introduisant une limite dans le temps. Mais l’essentiel, nous semble-t-il, est finalement de dépolitiser une bonne partie de ce débat sur les institutions. Ce ne devraient pas être les hommes et femmes politiques qui décident eux-mêmes des règles qui leur sont destinées. Ce que nous proposons, c’est de déléguer cette responsabilité à d’autres, par exemple à une instance en charge de l’édiction des règles du jeu qui pourrait être composée de citoyens tirés au sort et épaulée par des experts de la question.

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Photo : @nuvolanevicata/shutterstock.com

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Société contemporaines

Faire tenir les murs, n°103
  • Société contemporaines 2016, n°103Société contemporaines 2016, n°103

La revue Société contemporaines est dirigée par Vérène Chevalier, Florence Haegel, Sabine Montagne, Laurence Proteau, Patrick Simon

 

Dans une société qui promeut le respect de la vie privée, la liberté et la mobilité, les lieux d'enfermement, particulièrement la prison et l’hôpital psychiatrique, ont un caractère problématique. Ils semblent néanmoins survivre à la critique et se pérenniser. On assiste aujourd’hui à la résurgence de pratiques de contrainte au sein d’institutions ayant pourtant fait de leur (re)légitimation sociale le fil directeur de leurs réformes. Comment les professionnels entre les murs s’accommodent-ils de cette tension ?
Pour tenter de répondre à cette question, ce dossier s’intéresse aux pratiques quotidiennes visant à réduire le trouble induit par les injonctions contradictoires faites à l’institution. Christian Mouhanna analyse les conséquences organisationnelles et professionnelles, notamment pour les magistrats et les directeurs d’établissements pénitentiaires, d’un double impératif de sévérité pénale et de réduction de la surpopulation carcérale en France. Christopher Young étudie les effets de l’intégration d’un personnel soignant dans les prisons suisses, qui remet en question les règles de fonctionnement de l’institution carcérale ainsi que l’identité professionnelle des agents pénitentiaires. Livia Velpry se penche sur le lien entre enfermement, dangerosité et soin dans les unités pour malades difficiles en France, et analyse leur rapport avec le système de prise en charge psychiatrique ordinaire. À partir de l’exemple d’une prison allemande pour femmes, Camille Lancelevée observe le malaise des agents pénitentiaires face à l’exercice de la contrainte physique, et analyse la mobilisation d’un savoir psychologique pour traiter les comportements déviants en détention.

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A rise in populism

Interview of C. Froio & Nonna Mayer
  • Couverture de la revue ProjetCouverture de la revue Projet

1.Several European countries are seeing a rise in populism. What is this a sign of?

Caterina Froio: I share Nonna’s interpretation on globalization, but I would add an extra layer to it. I believe Europe is witnessing the success of a specific form of populism combined with ethnocentrism. It voices the fear of loss of (natives’) values and (natives’) ways of life resulting from the weakening of nation-states related to globalization.

Populism is indeed an ambiguous concept. If we define populism mainly as distrust in national politicians nourishing dissatisfaction with the way in which democracy works, Eurobarometer data show that today’s trends are not remarkably different from those in the past. Northern European countries exhibit higher satisfaction with democracy than Southern and Eastern European ones. In western Europe, a majority of the population is still “fairly satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the way in which democracy works. This suggests that populism is not the only catalyser of discontent. What is changing are citizens’ priorities and anxieties associated (mainly) with immigration. According to the Eurobarometer data (http://ec.europa.eu/COMMFrontOffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Chart/getChart/chartType/lineChart//themeKy/42/groupKy/208/savFile/632 ) in 2005 50% of the population considered “The Economic situation” as the most important problem in their countries. These figures changed with the euro crisis in 2016 (reaching peaks of 95%!). Today however only 33% of the EU population thinks that the economy is the most urgent priority. The issue that instead acquired importance overtime is “immigration” passing from 14% in 2005 to 28% in 2016. Immigration is now considered to be the most important issue in most European countries and in particular in Denmark (by 57% of the country population), Germany (56%) and the Netherlands (46%). Compared to other EU members, none of them appear to have the highest number of asylum-seekers in proportion to the country’s population (http://www.pewglobal.org/2016/08/02/number-of-refugees-to-europe-surges-to-record-1-3-million-in-2015/).

Parties combining strong anti-immigrant and anti-establishment rhetoric are those that seem to profit more of these societal changes, and these are ‘radical right populist parties’. One likely explanation for their rise is the crisis of the model of nation-state resulting from globalization. In nation-states a cultural identity (the nation) was combined with a political entity (the State). Globalization processes reshape this equation since they bring increasing levels of economic, cultural and political interconnectedness between different individuals and states. In this sense globalization challenges (and triggers) the pillars of populist radical right’s identity: nativism, nationalism and cultural homogeneity (https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/populist-radical-right-parties-in-europe/244D86C50E6D1DC44C86C4D1D313F16D). Thus radical right populists oppose globalization portraying it as a triple threat to the native people in cultural, economic, and political terms as Nonna says. In sum, populism (alone) remains a challenging but poorly explanatory concept to understand contemporary European politics. I believe that Europe is experiencing a specific form of populism combined with ethnocentrism gaining support by striving to redefine who the (native) ‘people’ are.

Nonna Mayer: Populism is a fuzzy concept. If one just defines it by the rejection of elites, today it’s 79% of French citizens who think that those who govern us « do not care what people like us think », as well as the 75% who think the political class is « somewhat corrupt », that should be labelled as populist !I’ll limit myself to the Populist Radical Rights parties that have developed in Europe for the last three decades, whose anti-elite stands are colored by nativism, authoritarianism and ethnocentrism as shown by Cas Mudde. In spite of their diversity these parties have a common claim: defending the « losers of globalization », a globalization framed as a triple threat, economic (immigrants take our jobs), cultural (they do not respect our values) and political (the sovereignty of the nation state is at risk). Cutting through the old party cleavages based on religion and class, they form, in spite of their diversity, a new party family that’s here to stay, challenging the old lefts and the old rights as well as the European integration process they support, an EU seen as the open door to migrants and a major threat to national identites. 

2.Is the European democratic model itself being called into question?

Caterina Froio: I agree with what Nonna said with respect to the European Union and democracy, and to avoid redundancy I would try to push the reasoning even further and focus on the tensions between radical right-populists and democracy.

Differently from “extreme right” organizations that oppose democracy and advocate authoritarian or totalitarian orders (like Fascism or Nazism), most “radical right populist parties” comply with the formal procedures of representative democracy. In this sense, they do not challenge democratic procedures although they criticize electoral outcomes, especially when they are unsuccessful. Yet, the fact that populist radical right parties respect the procedures of democracy does not mean that their way of interpreting democracy is in line with liberal democratic understandings. In other words, the fact that they run for elections does not mean that radical right populists “dream” about liberal democracy. As suggested by Cas Mudde in his 2007 book, the unsolvable tension between the populist radical right and liberal democracy lies in different ways of envisaging society. Liberal democracy endorses a plural vision of the society, whereas radical right populists defend a monist vision of it. Most radical right populist parties consider the society as being homogeneous (mainly but not exclusively) in cultural terms. Liberal democracy instead encompasses and presupposes groups that are very different. In this sense, there is little doubt that populist radical rightists challenge the democratic model itself in Europe and (when they exist) also abroad.

Nonna Mayer: I would disconnect the two things, European Union and democracy. Round 6 of the European Social Survey (ESS), in 2013, explored the attitudes of European citizens towards democracy, five years after the start of the Great Recession. The results showed a strong commitment to democracy, equality before the law and free and fair elections coming as the first requisites. But also a strong gap between what it should be and what it was in practice in their country, the most satisfied with the functioning of their democracies being the Northern Europeans, followed by the Western Europeans, and Southern and Central-Eastern Europeans lagging behind. As for the EU, it qualifies even worse, not precisely seen by the mass public as a model of democracy, rather a distant bureaucratic machine with complex and nit picking regulations, faraway from citizens’ everyday needs and problems. Yet, even after the Brexit, maybe all the more after the Brexit, as shown by a comparativepoll conducted by IFOP for Fondation Jean-Jaurès and Fondation européenne d’études progressistes (FEPS) in 6 European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Poland), a clear majority of their citizens judge positively their belonging to the EU, and a minority is willing to abandon the euro. So they don’t reject democracy, they want more of it and a better one! 

3.While the far right is gaining ground in certain countries, such as France, Austria and Italy, other European countries are not being affected in the same way. Why not? What can we learn from this?

Caterina Froio: This is unfortunately not very easy to answer. For long time scholars believed that specific institutional features (like majoritarian electoral systems) could inhibit far right’s electoral success. Yet, as the cases of France and the United Kingdom show, there is no ‘iron law’ that one may learn and apply.

Still I believe that what matters is how opened mainstream parties are to the ideas of the populist radical right, and how do they frame their (op)position. On the one hand, many left and right mainstream parties have already started "speaking to the people", but rather than addressing their needs and hopes, they have primarily fueled their fears. In so doing, they have provided fertile grounds to radical right populist arguments, radicalizing mainstream values. On the other hand, too often mainstream parties compete with radical right populist parties mainly on the basis of near moralistic-tones, reducing their discourses to an anti-far right agenda. What is left of this is that while mainstream parties converge on an anti-populist radical right agenda, populist radical right parties themselves can appear as those having clear alternative proposals. Let’s not forget, for example, that UK internal politics set up the conservative party to allow for the referendum! If mainstream parties keep following these strategies, I believe that they will prove to be completely impotent against radical right-wing populism. 

If there is something that we may learn, it is that counter discourses are needed. The pro-EU camp should react changing - radically - the political direction of the EU. The community project is facing a structural crisis from decades, which EU intelligentsia has tackled with slogans -like “more Europe”. These sound as empty for most European citizens that have instead experienced (and suffered) austerity measures. The situation is unsustainable as it stands, and it will become worse if countermeasures in terms of fiscal union and European welfare services are not taken. Let's hope - at least - that Brexit will serve as a lesson in this sense. 

Nonna Mayer: It reflects social and political idiosyncracies. Germany for instance was for a long time immunized by the memory of the Holocaust against a return of the far right. With the exception of the short lived emergence of the Republikaner in the 1990s it’s only now that an eurosceptic populist far right party like Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) is electorally successful. As for the rest of Europe, there seems to be a North South cleavage. Populist radical rights have more audience in the better off Northern old established democracies, while radical lefts are more successful in Southern countries (Spain, Greece) far more severely hit by the recession and the austerity policies of the EU. But maybe because they only recently came out of authoritarian regimes, their revolt inclines them more towards Radical lefts than radical rights

 

The streaming of the conference which took place at Sciences Po, CEE on November 29, 201 can be seen here

 

 

 

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Interview de Philippe Bezès

L’enseignement est le complément naturel, indispensable même, de la recherche
  • Philippe BezèsPhilippe Bezès
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Interview de Thomas Aguilera

Alternative Ways of Living in the City are Needed to Bring Cities to Life
  • Lonely silhouette walking in front of run-down buildings in a street in ParisLonely silhouette walking in front of run-down buildings in a street in Paris

In 2016, Thomas Aguilera received three awards* for his PhD thesis** in which he analyses public policy on squats and slums in the regions of Paris and Madrid. It shows that illegality is not a by-product of capitalist and liberal societies but is in fact at the heart of the state-building process. Public authorities produce and exploit illegality in order to govern societies. Governments produce vulnerabilities as much as welfare. Interview.

Why did you choose to examine public policies on squats and slums in Paris and Madrid?

As a student, I had always been interested in housing issues as well as in the sociology of deviance, public policies and social movements. For my Master's thesis at the Sciences Po Urban School I decided to focus on an issue at the intersection of these interests and personal political concerns–urban policies on squats in Paris. And for my PhD, I compared policies on squats and slums in two European capitals.

Informal settlements are well known and documented in the Global South, but in the Global North they seem to be viewed as issues of the past–of the 1960s–even though thousands of people still live in squats and slums in European cities. On the one hand, local activists and NGOs have been calling for this situation to be acknowledged, and for states and the European Union to implement new policies to address it. On the other hand, politicians and the media always frame the problem as one of security and migration. In academic circles, many sociologists, geographers and anthropologists have studied squats and slums, but they have rarely looked at related public policies. Thus, there was a crucial need to produce knowledge about slum and squat policies to enable public policy changes and the development of fairer cities.

What was your research question?

My research began with an attempt to explain why these cities still have squatters if governments claim that policies made them disappear in the sixties. This question dovetails with a more general question: are large metropolises ungovernable? I addressed this question by studying squats and slums.

To explain the persistence of this kind of informal housing in Europe, I proposed three hypotheses drawing on the literature developed in the South. First: illegality is an obstacle to instituting autonomous public policies. Second: public policies produce illegality and precariousness. Third: squatters resist policies, which have limited effects. In the end, the research partly confirmed the second and the third hypotheses.

What was your methodological approach?

I conducted a comparative ethnography in squats, slums, squatter associations, and NGOs, as well as in public administrations at different levels of government (municipal, departmental, regional, national) and the police. I conducted 110 interviews that helped me understand the relationships between stakeholders and their motivations. I also collected documents and data to develop a quantitative database on squats, slums, policies and maps.

Then, as I was trying to explain the divergence of policy outputs between Paris and Madrid, I gradually realized that I needed a historical perspective in order to trace policy institutionalization and deinstitutionalization mechanisms. It was an important and difficult choice because it forced me to collect new data, and to map the evolution of the phenomena over 60 years. This historical background was crucial for identifying the mechanisms and conditions of institutionalization and how they combine.

What were your main research findings?

The first finding was that squats and slums are governable in the sense that, ultimately, their inhabitants are never totally disconnected from police, state and municipal agents, NGOs, etc. I did not find any places like “Zomia”, an ungoverned area described by James Scott in his famous book The Art of Not Being Governed. However, some squats and slums, and other kinds of occupation such as the Notre-Dame-des-Landes ZAD, or "Zone to Defend" (among many others), are “temporary autonomous zones”, that is, areas that temporarily escape political power and claim a kind of autonomy that is far removed from, and runs counter to, public policies. But in the end, the police are always able to evict them.

So why are there still so many squats and slums? Are public authorities incapable of managing these spaces or populations?

Un-governability is constructed by public authorities who want to justify their inaction in order to justify states of emergency. One of my main findings was that public authorities spend much more time seeking to avoid issues and blaming other levels of government than on solving problems. I call this agenda of collective and strategic denial “public inaction”. It explains, for example, why the French state has ignored slums since the 1990s, and why Madrid’s biggest slum (Cañada Real Galiana) has been tolerated and left in the shadows in order to facilitate the eviction of other slums in the city centre.

Still, there are some examples of public programmes that target squats and slums…

Sure. When politicians and public officials see a benefit in positioning themselves as leaders of competitive metropolitan governance, they may engage in institutionalisation processes. I found some highly institutionalised policies with autonomous administrations, budgets, instruments and agendas, and a high degree of statistical knowledge.

What are the outputs and the outcomes of these policies?

I showed that policies are always selective: they create beneficiaries who are integrated into projects, and losers who are evicted to the margins of metropolises and public services. Policy instruments always impose major constraints on beneficiaries, but the beneficiaries are able to resist and deviate the instruments. That is why policies never produce the expected effects.

My study yielded two additional findings. First, policies create as many forms of illegality and precariousness as they seek to resolve. Second, targeted groups are able to resist and to change policies under certain conditions, and most effectively when they combine disruptive modes of collective action (illegal squatting, protests, etc.) with conventional modes of action (alliance with bureaucrats and the media). Finally, I also drew a more general conclusion about the effects of social movements on public policies: the more social movements are fragmented, the greater their power to change policies.

To what extent do you think your research could serve to improve policies or help people organise in the face of repression and stigma?

In terms of public implications, I hoped the dissertation might assist in the struggles against aggressive policies targeting the urban poor, against inequalities and for better housing conditions. One policy recommendation is to avoid evicting slums and squats. I showed that evictions (besides the fact that an eviction costs 400,000 euros) destroy social, residential and family networks and impede social workers from helping inhabitants. National and local politicians must now recognize that slums (bidonvilles) are both a housing and a social issue.

Second, some activist squatters try to build alternative ways of living in the city while resisting illegitimate policies. I believe such places are needed to bring cities to life. I showed the large extent to which some groups of squatters have shaped urban policies in Paris and Madrid. Squatters involved in the housing movement have played a part in activating housing policies in Paris and pushing the municipality to build private buildings to transform into social housing. Next, cultural policies are deeply influenced by squatters who have shown their ability to develop an alternative culture outside museums, both in Paris and Madrid. Finally, social policies are also influenced by squatters who show that more flexible social work and tools can be more efficient: self-organization and collective life help people get back to a more stable life, from the street to a home.

So there is reason to be optimistic: we need to open more social and cultural centres and autonomous spaces where people can self-organize free from public authorities, and without public funds and norms, in order to promote social, political and cultural innovation.

What are your current projects?

After the defence of my PhD, as a postdoc researcher at Sciences Po’s Centre d’études européennes, I began new fieldwork on squatting, artist activists and the surveillance of vacant space in London. I also started new research on conflicts over the regulation of tourism in Paris and London, particularly municipal regulation of Airbnb.

I am now assistant professor of political science at Sciences Po Rennes, where I am director of the Master's programme in Territorial Public Policies. I will continue my research on the regulation of informal activities, and on the effects of social movements and participation on public policies, with a greater focus on environmental issues. I will also develop my research on the regulation of tourism and a new project on conflicts linked to sustainable development issues.

* Awards for the best PhD thesis from Dalloz (publisher), Fondation pour la recherche Caritas (FR) and the Prix spécial de thèse de la ville (FR)

** Gouverner les illégalismes urbains. Les politiques publiques face aux squats et aux bidonvilles dans les régions de Paris et de Madrid", under the supervision of Prof. Patrick Le Galès at Sciences Po, CEE and the Urban School, CNRS.

Interview with Thomas Aguilera (Sciences Po Rennes, CRAPE-Arènes and associate researcher at Sciences Po, CEE) by Katia Rio (Sciences Po, CEE), October 2016

Related links

Thinking of applying to the Sciences Po Urban School? On 3 November, a second year Master student at the Urban School - and Patrick Le Galès, dean of the Urban School, answered questions from prospective students during a live interview. Watch the replay

Learn more about the Sciences Po Urban School

Photo: Lonely silhouette walking in front of run-down buildings in a street in Paris

Credits: @ Ivan Bastien / Shutterstock

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