“Local elected officials remain the best transmission belt between the citizen and the Republic”

Lhe belief that our democratic model is at an end is widespread. Growing abstention is one of the corollaries and its concrete illustration, even if, as the congress of mayors of Franceit is worth remembering that 74.3% of French people trust the mayor of their municipality according to a survey by the ThisJuly 2021 vipof.

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Even beyond this global distrust and disaffection of the ballot box, there is a clear desire on the part of the population to be governed differently, with a better balance between what citizens say and political actions. What we mainly find in the cities known as “range of shouting matches”criticism and proposals from citizens.

This situation clearly reflects that the best transmission belt between the citizen and the Republic remains the local elected representatives, the mayor and the municipal councillors. It is their proximity to everyone that is their strength and makes their mandate useful in the eyes of the population.

“In the oven and at the mill”

They are the men and women of all trades. They manage municipal finances, make investment choices, take care of schools, housing, the living environment, the cleanliness of the roads, neighborhood problems, the environment, health, activities festivals, culture or safety. All of this is visible to citizens and contributes concretely to living together.

However, it sometimes seems difficult to find candidates ready to invest in medium-sized and small municipalities where versatility and responsibility are important. Moreover, these municipalities do not have, proportionally, the same resources in civil servants, personnel and skills as large cities such as Paris, Marseilles or Lyon, nor the same leeway to cope with the evolution of the cost of life, energy prices or home renovation.

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In medium and small towns, the city councilor and his team meet “in the oven and at the mill”, and to have to continue to carry out a professional activity. How then to reinforce the attraction for this useful function and in geographical perimeters where it is often the only link with the State?

True status of elected officials

Measures must be considered to find a better balance between the situation of large cities and the reality of medium and small towns. These avenues could focus on four areas:

  • put in place a real statute for elected municipal officials to enhance this function by involving employers’ organizations and the administration to allow the possibility of partial detachment from the original company or administration, in particular for mayors, assistants and delegated advisers, while preserving the guarantees linked to their professional status;
  • improve the allowances of elected officials, which remain too symbolic for medium-sized and small municipalities;
  • guarantee possibilities of retraining in the event of non-re-election by promoting the skills acquired in the exercise of their municipal functions;
  • facilitate and develop training opportunities for municipal elected officials or candidates.

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