If you live in France, you'll know that there's no avoiding hearing about the municipal elections next year. As a Brit and therefore one of the happy EU family (*cough*), I am allowed to vote. I am not allowed to vote in national elections despite the fact that I pay taxes and have been living here for donkey's years. In my opinion there should be no representation without taxation (give or take the odd exception) but no one listens to me.
Anyway, I signed up at the mairie to be added to the electoral list because I'd like to participate in the next local elections and do my tiny bit for 'democracy' (not that there's much of that left in France any more but that's another story).
The current maire has an Italian name and would not look out of place in a mafia baron mansion in Sicily. He has charisma and class and is a wily politician who's managed to stay in the hot seat for decades. Hardly a spring chicken, he now wants to move to a bigger seat in the local commune and leave the stress and hassle of being maire to another.
Never one to leave anything to chance however, he has endorsed the next wannabe maire, his poulain, and is doing absolutely everything in his power - which is a lot - to make electors want to vote for him. Last night, he put the local sports hall at his disposition for a meeting to which the village was invited. Wouldn't like to hazard a guess as to who paid for this but I have my suspicions...
I arrived late because I had something more important to do beforehand. The sports hall had been transformed with a stage, and two screens to show the natty little presentation that had been prepared by yer man. It was pretty packed but I managed to find a seat, funnily enough behind the neighbour who lives up the road, whose better half was on the stage as one of the campaign team. He's the campaign guru I heard, the one at the hub of things directing strategy, manipulation and, presumably, cups of
Next to him was some other bloke who I'd never seen before and as I arrived late missed knowing what he was doing there. I presume he is also part of the team which is aimed at reducing the average age of the council by a couple of decades.
The current maire was next to him looking very much like he had everything under control, and standing next to him was the wannabe maire who was leaning on a lectern which I thought might collapse under the strain. I have a hard time remembering his name. I keep calling him Cahuzac which is a shame because Jérôme "les yeux dans les yeux" Cahuzac is a disgraced former Budget Minister who was accused of tax fraud earlier this year.
Anyway, it's something like that, possibly like the name of that water which has the advert with a pale child with pale blue eyes running over the moors who holds a glass of crystal clear liquid and speaks in Breton. Le Wannabe, however, is nothing like her. I felt quite worried for him actually. He obviously has a copiously-stuffed expense account and makes good use of it. When he speaks, in his extremely local accent, he snuffles and snorts and it's as though the act of speaking standing up even puffs him out. It looked like he could have a heart attack at any moment! Actually he reminded me of John Nettles in the very last episode of Midsomer Murders, only fatter.
So what did he say? Well, I take anything that any politician says with several shovels of salt because they are known for going back on their promises post-election. So basically I was listening with only half an ear because that is all a politician's words are worth.
As a person, he did not fill me with confidence as he looks so unfit (and probably snores) physically. The other hopeful, the local pharmacist, is in much better shape and has the advantage that everyone knows him (and he knows the contents of their Carte Vitale).
At the end, some other retiring member of the municipal team got up to whinge a bit about the fact that the pharmacist is daring to stand in opposition to the maire's wannabe, mainly because, it seems, he once said that he would never stand for maire, but changed his mind. Shock horror, a man who changes his mind! He should meet my DB! He changes his mind every 5 minutes.
So, there you have it. I can see it's going to get pretty exciting around here in the new year as the campaigns hot up, if Le Wannabe survives through his Christmas Eve orgy of animal fat and strong liquor...
Any pig farms in your area...I gather the pigs like feeding on mafia types...ReplyDelete
Haha, Fly. No, no pig farms, but lots of construction...Delete
Great post, Sarah. In our village I don't know what's happening - they're all playing their cards close to their chests for the moment. I'll be voting too. Strange system in France - you can pay your taxes but not vote for those who decide what is done with them. Having said that, you have the right not ony to vote in local elections, but also to stand as a candidate to be a councillor (although you can't be an "adjoint" or Mayor). I did it in 2008 and was a town councillor in a town of 6000 inhabitants until the end of 2010 - it was a real eye opener. Particularly when I was part of the "bureau de votes" for the Legislative elections, and registered votes for the State in elections I couldn't vote in myself... No comment.ReplyDelete
I bet it was an eye-opener! Crazy to be registering votes in an election you cannot vote in though...Delete
What fun! You are starting to get involved in local politics! The funny thing is that you didn't mention any party...usually parties are not important for local elections, and people tend to vote for someone charismatic. Is it the case in your village? I can't wait to see who will win!ReplyDelete
No, the party is not important here. They are vaguely UMP/on the right, but it's not important. As you say, it's the person people vote for. Mind you I can't imagine anyone on the left standing a chance in hell where I live however charismatic s/he might be!Delete
Super post, Sarah. I think the pharmacist may just shake up some people's expectations. After all who wants to upset someone who knows rather a lot about you. :-)ReplyDelete
Haha, indeed Perpetua! The current team seem rather put out that anyone would dare stand in opposition, and take it as a personal insult. It's a strange interpretation of democracy!Delete
Politicians eh. Good that you attended town hall meeting. You've heard the old joke about politicians, right? How do you know a politician is being dishonest? There lips are moving, that's how.ReplyDelete
I've voted since the age of eighteen. And I will continue to do so.
Do go and vote. Take your kids with you too. Let them experience what democracy is all about, even if those you must choose from aren't worth a damn.
I hadn't thought of taking the boys. Good idea!Delete