De quoi le RIC est-il le nom ? Les commentaires de la presse française sur l’usage du référendum d’initiative citoyenne (1995-2020)
Chapter from the book: Roitman, M et al. 2023. The New Challenges of Populist Discourses in Romance Speaking Countries.
From November 17, 2018, to March 5, 2020, the yellow vests movement resulted in the repetition of several slogans in the demonstrations, in particular the affirmation of the acronym RIC for citizen initiative referendum. This slogan has officially become one of the main symbols of this movement, with debates on the uses of the referendum. However, since the beginning of the 1990s, the request for a referendum has been the subject of several laws in France on the inclusion of citizens in local life with new instruments of participation such as the local referendum, the petition and neighborhood councils. This series of laws did not prevent an increasingly strong demand for the institutionalization of a right of popular initiative. How can this recurrent demand be analyzed in the French public space? Why is there a lexical creativity in the political discourse when it comes to instruments of direct democracy? The hypothesis of the chapter is that the creation of the acronym RIC responds to a diversion operated by the discourse of the government. The study of a corpus of 7,403 texts from the French press between 1990 and 2020 provides an understanding of the changes in the creation of the acronym from the period when the laws of participation were gradually institutionalized until the appearance of the yellow vests movement.