I visited Paris on a guided day tour with some of my classmates Friday in an effort to break free of the island life.
After hopping off the Eurostar, our tour guide Jean Paul gave us a quick “French history for dummies” commentary as we made our way through the city on our coach bus toward the Eiffel Tower.
After recounting every French dynasty and republic from the past 2,000 years (there’s a lot), Jean Paul explained the structure of Paris’ city government.
Paris is divided into 20 districts, and each of those districts has its own city council. Working in city government myself, I was astonished that there was more than one, but after thinking about how large Paris is and the variety of people there are, it made more sense to have a broader range of representation.
Parisians vote for the members of their particular council, but the council itself determines who will serve as mayor of the district. These “mayors” make up a higher city council, which in turn decides who will hold the title of “Mayor of Paris.”
Ultimately, Parisians don’t have much of a voice in who ends up representing them as the official mayor, which I think is pretty interesting. I don’t know if other cities, even American ones, operate like this one, but I know there are large cities out there with one council.
A thought-provoking concept to consider this Independence Day weekend.