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France

Paris council approves plan to redraw the city's 'arrondissements'

© Bertrand Guay, AFP | Paris Mayor Anne Hidlago

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-02-15

The Paris city council voted Monday to approve a plan by Mayor Anne Hidalgo to regroup four of the French capital’s historic arrondissements into a single district. The proposal must be approved by parliament before it becomes law.

Mayor Hidalgo floated the idea as a way to make the city “more democratic and more efficient”.

Paris is currently divided into 20 arrondissements (districts), each with its own mayor and town hall. This administrative structure, which has been in place since 1860, spirals outwards from the centre in what is often described as being like a snail’s shell.

The current setup includes arrondissements of vastly different demographics. The central 1st arrondissement, for example, has just 17,000 residents, while the residential 15th in the southwest of the capital has 238,000.

Most people living in Paris identify themselves to a certain degree by which arrondissement they call home. But for some, that is about to change.

Under the new measure, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th arrondissements will be regrouped into a single district with one mayor by 2020. While the four arrondissements will keep their numbers and postal codes, most of their administrative functions will be centralised.

The proposal passed despite fierce opposition from the conservative Les Républicains party (formerly the UMP) and centrist UDI-Modem parties, which voted unanimously against it.

City councillors from both parties accused Hidalgo of wanting to redraw city lines in order to ensure her party’s domination of the French capital during the next municipal elections in 2020 by reducing the number of mayors belonging to opposition parties.

“You take yourself for Napoléon III and the Baron Haussmann, you want to remake Paris by your own hand,” Jean-Pierre Lecoq, of Les Républicains, said to Hidalgo during Monday’s vote. “There are a number of us who think that you won’t stop at the first four arrondissements.”

But Hidalgo insisted that the proposal would benefit the city’s residents. “The only thing at stake here is the best interests of Parisians,” she said.

Hidalgo has argued that regrouping the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th arrondissements will ensure that each of the city’s districts are fairly represented in government based on the size of its population. She has said that this will not only reinforce their democratic legitimacy, but also improve the efficiency of their public services.

Date created : 2016-02-15

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