Mayor Anne Hidalgo has brought one of her key reforms before the city council of Paris: take the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th arrondissements and make them one.
At least, administratively. Like the merger of the départment of Paris with the city itself, the move is meant to consolidate authority and increase the power and representation of the four arrondissements. Instead of four arrondissements with four town halls and four mayors, each would share a mayor and a larger number of representatives in the Conseil de Paris.
On paper, the combined arrondissements would have a population of around 100,000 people, larger than the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th 9th, and 10th arrondissements, but still half the size of the 15th and 20th. Currently, they are the four least populated districts in the city.
While Hidalgo is touting the reform as a way to improve the democratic process in the city, her opposition in Les Républicains and centrist parties are casting the move as a way for Hidalgo and the Socialists to consolidate and secure their power in Paris, with one source telling the AFP it’s a “smokescreen designed to secure Anne Hidalgo’s position.”
The changes to the arrondissement governments are part of a raft of reforms being debated in the city council today and tomorrow. The arrondissement merger was approved on Monday. Any reforms will have to pass muster with parliament later this year.