|Our voters don't like change either...|
Thus the peuple voteth, spurred by Fear that the Agglo Cometh, and reminded at every opportunity by the outgoing maire of the Dangers of Change. In fact, the Agglo cometh not and there'll be change whoever's in charge because of national social housing regulations and building contracts already signed, but let's not nitpick...
The run-up to the election was mad. We dashed around delivering tracts, going door-to-door, having meetings, and culminating in a public meeting in the sports hall. After a tentative start, the questions started and one guy provided endless entertainment and ambiance by keeping on and on with his question oblivious to the fact that he hadn't understood one word of the explanation presented previously.
There were members of the other team there too who did their best to rabble rouse, but all it did was encourage gales of laughter and much noise from the partisan members of the audience. I never knew politics could be such fun!
I did two runs of delivering pamphlets (tracts) on Wednesday and Friday, hurrying up and down the hilly roads to post them all between working hours. I didn't need the zumba that week!
Sunday was Election Day. I spent four hours collecting signatures from voters after they'd voted, in the official register aide by a nifty ruler than had a window the exact size of the box to be signed. The person next to me read out the page number and voter number and name so I really couldn't get it wrong! At the end of four hours though, my head was reeling with a jumble of figures.
We had been told not to leave the table to partake of the buffet laid on by the mairie. You never know what might happen... So I ate before my stint and waited until I'd finished to grab a coffee and slice of apple tart. A peek in the fridge showed a tray of charcuterie and another of cheeses which looked really good. Had I been alone in the room I might have grabbed a doggy bag (as I paid for it out of my taxes!), but I was not, so sadly shut the fridge door.
When 6pm arrived, I was on duty to count the votes! First the number of signatures had to correspond to the number of envelopes before we could get our hands on them. Then the envelopes were gathered into bigger envelopes in groups of ten. With nothing missing or added, we set up tables of four to count the votes. The room was teaming with members of the voting public who were monitoring closely what was going on. They made quite a noise too.
I was ticking off the votes as they were called out by the woman on the other side of the table. The woman next to her was opening the envelopes, and the woman next to me was also ticking things off. We got to the end and already had an inkling of the final result but were not allowed to say anything to anyone outside the room - no text messages, no calls giving an indication of the result. Serious stuff!
The final result was revealed back in the sports hall. We didn't do too badly in the end, getting just over 42% of the votes. The turnout was much better than average. The fact that there were two lists motivated people to brave the biting wind. As a new team, we did well. My DB reminded me that politics is a long-term game and we had only been really active for a couple of months. Five of our team are on the local council, and the rest of us will be following progress and providing a robust opposition - critical in a democracy even if it annoys the hell out of the new maire.
I know of one maire who decided to step down after two mandates because he said he had come to the point where he knew the files so well, he couldn't stand being criticised or opposed. Better leave while the going is good than cling on and get increasingly tyrannical. More maires should follow his example. In fact, there ought to be a limit to the number of consecutive mandates permitted.
So I will not be on the council this year, but I have really enjoyed the whole process, and made some really good friends who I'll be seeing on a regular basis as we develop into a viable opposition. As our candidate said in his final speech: we won everything except the election.
We'll be back...