The people have spoken: Daglan’s election

Like so many things in our village, politics bubbles along beneath the surface, generally hidden from public view. There are whispers, private meetings, nods and winks.

But yesterday, for our municipal elections, the people spoke out clearly and dramatically. It was, at least in Daglan terms, an avalanche of votes. And the result was a rout.

To see what I mean about politics lying beneath the surface here (unlike the municipal elections I’m familiar with in Canada), have a look at how the two 15-member  lists of candidates for election were promoted. This photo shows a stretch of Daglan’s main street, with two metal signs where publicity was pasted:

Election publicity in Daglan.

Election publicity in Daglan.

That’s it. Nothing else was posted anywhere in the village (at least that I could see). Now have a closer look:

Election signs in Daglan: A closer look.

Election signs in Daglan: A closer look.

On the left is a poster for Daglan Autrement, which means “Daglan Differently,” or “Daglan in Another Way.” It includes a photograph of all 15 candidates, with leader Raymond Wey front and centre.  Monsieur Wey is a retired doctor and general in the French Army.

On the right is a poster with the 15 candidates for the other list, Daglan Demain, or “Daglan Tomorrow.” Front and centre in this poster is Pascal Dussol. There is also a simple sign promoting a public meeting (for the Daglan Demain team) held on Wednesday, March 19. (The Daglan Autrement team had held its public meeting on Saturday, March 15.) Monsieur Dussol owns a restaurant in neighbouring St. Cybranet, noted for its pizzas and its soggy and greasy French fries.

Now if you think the publicity is low-key, wait until you see the single, simple sign on the doors of our Salle des fêtes, or community hall, indicating that this is the place to vote:

Here's where you vote.

Here’s where you vote.

That was it. There wasn’t even a sign visible from the road, pointing toward the voting station at the hall. As in so many areas of village life, it seems to be expected that everyone will simply know what should be done, and where.

In any case, despite the low-key publicity, the turnout yesterday was huge — of the village’s 462 eligible voters, nearly 89% came out and voted. And their voice was loud and clear: the Daglan Autrement list was roundly defeated, and the Daglan Demain team was overwhelmingly endorsed. Twelve members of the Daglan Demain list of 15 were elected; only three from Daglan Autrement (including the leader, Raymond Wey) were named to the village council.

Disclosure: Now here I should note that the Radio Free Daglan family was involved a bit more than you might have known, as my wife Jan had been persuaded to run for the village council on the Daglan Autrement team. It was not something she actively sought, and she did worry that her French language skills might not be sufficient for the fast-talking ways of political life. But eventually she was convinced, and wound up playing an active role in activities such as door-to-door campaigning, attending meeting after meeting, and helping to deliver flyers. Although in the end she wasn’t elected, she did attract 165 votes — a good total, when compared with the 232 votes for Dominique Pasquet, who received more votes than any other candidate.

So as we understand it, there will be no need for another vote next Sunday. Daglan’s council of 15 members have been selected, and in due course the councillors will elect one of their members as mayor. We are assuming that the mayor will be Pascal Dussol, leader of the Daglan Demain list, since that’s the way things are usually done.

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12 Responses to The people have spoken: Daglan’s election

  1. Kevin & Shirley says:

    Well done Jan, a true team player and the ‘party’ was victorious. I think the association of being from Toronto and Rob Ford may have been a factor. Looking forward to the next election and a victorious campaign. Grand bisous, Kevin and Shirley

    • loren24250 says:

      Thanks, you two, on behalf of Jan. I guess the slogan “There’s a Ford in your future!” probably wasn’t the strongest…As for the next election, I’m pretty confident that Jan will be abstaining…

  2. Sam says:

    Zu Alors! You mean they didn’t acknowledge the 3,245 write in absentee votes we sent from Bradenton to get Jan elected? Oh Well. Nice try Janster!

    • loren24250 says:

      Drat — the absentee votes just arrived today! One day too late! Otherwise, I’m quite sure they would have been accepted…
      But thanks on behalf of Janster!

  3. Suzanne says:

    I’m so disappointed in the result our village definitely needed a change

  4. marshp2013 says:

    Kudos to Jan for braving the vicissitudes of politics in a foreign country, something I’d never attempt in a dozen lifetimes. And to earn a good number of votes — that’s an amazing feat. As for the lack of hoopla, attack ads and skullduggery that mark elections around here — could you send a Daglan deputation over here to show how it’s done?

    • loren24250 says:

      I know what you mean, Paul. A bit of civility can be a wonderful thing. (Today I had a regular check-up at my eye doctor in Sarlat. Each time someone entered or exited the waiting room, we had the “Bonjour” moment. Very nice, I have to say.)

  5. Heather Fishwick says:

    We were eligible to vote for the first time, and although I thought I knew what to expect, I still found it confusing.
    We had to collect two lists, and take them into the booth, in order to put one of the lists in the given envelope. Unlike the UK, there were no tied- up pencils, so that one could delete, or add names, if desired. I had to borrow a pen from a friend before I went in, but others completely forgot, so didn’t get the chance to change the list! Who knows what the outcome could have been?

  6. John Ison says:

    Interesting process. How do the locals react to other EU citizens being allowed to vote and run? I was reading Martin Walker’s Black Diamond during the election and his section on the local election in St. Denis with UK expat Pamela being asked to join the Green-Socialist slate. Hmmm. Loren, sure you are not Walker’s ghost writer?

  7. loren24250 says:

    John, there was a recent article (that I now can’t find) saying that a very large percentage of French citizens oppose the voting rights of non-French, even though the “outside” voters are European and own properties in France. (In other words, owners of holiday homes.) Too bad for France, because a lot of the prosperity of various villages and towns comes from the spending of tourists and holiday home owners. My view is that the recent Daglan election outcome stems primarily from a view (of the old families) that one list was “vrai Daglanais” while the other list was not. As for ghosting for Mr. Walker, I only wish!

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