Government under pressure to respond to mayors’ concerns

Published on Nov 20, 2023 at 6:59 p.m.Updated Nov. 20, 2023 at 7:15 p.m.

The Congress of Mayors which opens this Tuesday at Porte de Versailles in Paris comes after a particularly trying year for local elected officials. And the title chosen by the ociation of Mayors of France (AMF) for this 105e edition – “Communes attacked, Republic threatened” – is there to remind us of this.

An obviously explicit allusion to the urban riots of early summer which affected more than 500 municipalities. But also to attacks on elected officials which continue to multiply. According to the Ministry of the Interior, they increased from 2,265 last year to 2,387 as of November 12 and could reach the 2,600 mark by the end of December, which would represent an increase of 15% over the year 2023. .

Acceleration of the pace of resignations

According to a survey carried out by the Sciences Po Political Research Center (Cevipof) for the AMF and the Ministry responsible for Local Authorities, 69% of the mayors questioned say they have already been victims of incivility (+16 points compared to 2020) . They are also 39% to have suffered insults and insults (+10 points) and 27% to have been attacked on social networks (+7 points).

A sign of significant unease, the pace of resignations has also accelerated since the last municipal elections. Cevipof estimates that “around 1,300” are the number of mayors who have returned their tricolor scarves since June 2020, or 450 per year, compared to 350 per year under the previous mandate – not to mention that “thousands” of municipal councilors have also thrown away the scarf. sponge.

So many defections “revealing republican fatigue”, writes the director of Cevipof, Martial Foucault, in the summary of the investigation. “They often resign for reasons of incompatibility between the exercise of their mandate and their personal or professional life,” underlines Dominique Faure, the Minister for Local Authorities.

“The first discomfort of municipal elected officials comes from the increasing difficulty in acting,” declared David Lisnard, president of the AMF and LR mayor of Cannes, Monday on Public Senate. According to the AMF, municipalities are also “attacked” by “a powerful underlying recentralization movement, which works quietly, but which all mayors experience on a daily basis”.

Recurring, this accusation takes on particular relevance this year as the President of the Republic has just told the MP for Oise, Eric Woerth (Renaissance) a mission on decentralization .

Around fifteen ministers, but not the head of state

Like last year, the head of state – whose relations with the AMF are complicated – will not be at Congress to respond to the mayors’ questions. But as usual, he will receive a thousand of them at the Elysée on Wednesday evening.

The government will, on the other hand, come in force, with the announced presence of around fifteen ministers until Thursday before the closing intervention of the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne. “The government has not looked away from any issue. We listen a lot to elected officials and we draw conclusions from what they tell us,” ures Dominique Faure’s entourage, seeking proof the national plan for preventing and combating violence against elected officials presented in July and certain measures of which will come into force on 1er January, or work in progress for improve the conditions for exercising the mandate .

As in other years, the AMF – at the head of which David Lisnard should be reappointed for a new mandate, two years after his first election – should also make its grievances heard on the financial level. Especially since the finance bill (PLF) for 2024 is, according to her, not up to the challenges.

“It is a very good PLF for the communities because we are providing an additional 220 million euros for the overall operating allocation, after having already increased it by 320 million euros for 2023. And they have never had so much money in investment”, retorts Dominique Faure, regarding the cumulative 4.5 billion euros of the local investment support grant, the equipment grant for rural territories and the “green fund” . A never-ending debate.

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