General Political License

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Source: from a translation by Maia Dereva at

First draft at


Maia Dereva:

"At the last Assembly of the Commons of Lille (France), a group of deputies who came especially from Paris was received. A morning walk led them to discover a lot about the commons of the of territory and they later attended as "ordinary citizens", the monthly assembly.

Some of them have worked well with members of the assembly around the idea of a General Political License, sort of GPL ( adapted to the political use of the commons. This license would allow policy to have the support of commons and commoners, this support however would be subject to clear conditions of reciprocity, in the image of the 'copyfair' licenses that demand stronger reciprocity for commercial use.

The challenges of such a "democratic pact" declined as a license would be:

  • support of citizen groups (like the assemblies of commons) and taking into account their views when they arrive to make choices and find solutions to political issues;
  • the bureaucratization of the process, for a more direct collaboration between stakeholders in a territory;
  • the transition to the participation and cooperation: participation in the process, the idea submitted to citizens comes from elected officials, whereas collaboration involves giving citizens a full role in designing and porting projects;
  • the inclusion of the "amateur" (as opposed to professionals such as engineers or other territorial) in decision making. This would give a place to the voice of citizens and co-construct the city and the territory around the notion of the commons.

The example of Italy

A regulation of cooperation between citizens and local governments was signed by forty Italian cities to regenerate and to sustain the commons. The first charter, that of Bologna, is available in English:

What work process to draw up the license?

The organization of time of exchanges between the assemblies and the elected representatives would allow to have a dialogue and to co-construct this license by taking into account the commoners needs and the institutions needs.

For example, during the first workshop, the following needs have been identified:

Institutions needs

  1. Training of elected representatives and officials
  2. Establishment of a legal, procedural framework

Commoners needs

  1. Compensation of commoners / common
  2. Social rights
  3. Legal stabilization

Joint needs

  1. Identify the value created by the institution
  2. Identify the value created by the commoner

One of the major issues identified during this collaboration work would be the training of elected representatives to the logic of commons so that they can appropriate the culture. It was also evoked that it is as well by the experience that the culture will come, just like the use of an free licensed application to which we eventually contribute and appropriate the culture.

Institutions could undertake to appeal to existing communities and to guarantee the traceability of their choices.

The license would be introduced with some first proposals to be signed by the elected representatives wishing to work in this direction. It would be accompanied with numerous tools for follow-up and transparency to avoid any non compliance with the signed pact. The various commitments would be refined permanently. The text of the license would be appropriable and improvable to make it directly operational.

What this first very successful workshop has not yet allowed to establish with clarity it is the " conditions of reciprocity " that the elected representatives could obtain from the commoners, to make a commitment in such a transition, beyond a short-term vote-catching aim. Because to take the commons road would doubtless involve to rethink completely the place and the role of the elected representatives about whom we thus ask for a double movement of commitment to support the commons and of disengagement of certain aspects of the life of the city for the benefit of commoners…"