Saturday, 15 February 2014

Village Politics

For or against mulled wine?
Don’t worry, I am not going to bore you with local gossip about who has fallen out with whom. I am not going to go into why we no longer have a village gallette des rois at Epiphany - suffice to say not everyone agrees you can drink mulled wine it and it certainly can’t be eaten in the open air.... I am not even going to go into why we no longer have a proper village party at the end of the summer.... No I am talking about REAL politics. The type you go to a polling station for to put your cross on a ballot paper. Election fever is gripping our small community, even uniting the mulled wine and anti-mulled wine factions and creating two new groups, the “for” and the “against” our current mayor. In March (the 23rd to be precise) we will be going to the polls to elect a new town council.

Who's on the ballot paper?
Elections in France work differently to any system I have seen before. As a commune of over 500 people (only just mind you) we have to have 15 town councillors. But you can’t just get your name on the ballot paper by registering and letting the masses say if they want you as an individual or not – definitely not - you have to be part of a “list”. So the current mayor has set up his list of 15 people and on polling day, we will be asked if we accept the list or not. That means that if someone wants to stand against him, they have to come up with a different list of 15 people who want to run the council. In a community the size of ours, trying to find 30 people who want to run for council is a tall order, in fact finding 15 is difficult enough, after all this is a thankless task and only the ultimately elected mayor and his/her deputy will get a small monthly payment - the rest do it for free.

So you can imagine that election day tends to be a bit boring, you go to the polls and you generally vote for the only group available. There is however, another little French twist to add a bit of spice to the occasion. Even if there is just one list, you can always scrub off the names you don’t like and replace them with someone you would prefer and if enough people do that, coming up with the same set of scrubbees and additions, the finally elected 15 could in theory be changed.

Well this year big moves are afoot. It looks like there may be a second list. Furtive meetings are being held in front rooms all around the commune, telephones are buzzing, swapping names of those in the pro- and anti-mayor camps and it looks like we may actually have a real election. The mayor’s list has been published and I don’t know when the others have to go public with their list, but they are running close to the wire I think, so we are all on tenterhooks.

Our future council members?

I hope we do have a real election, it will silence the whingers and moaners from both camps and give us a council that is seen to have the majority vote, so that they can get on and do their work rather than fighting off criticism. So good luck to all the candidates and may the best man (or woman) win. You never know, next year we may even have mulled wine.

For information on holiday accommodation near this hotbed of politics click here.

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