If you think village politics must be incredibly dull, you’ve not been in Daglan over the past few weeks. Today (Sunday) is voting day in France for municipal officials, and we have two full teams of candidates who have been battling it out. In fact, on the evening of Saturday, March 7, my wife Jan and I attended the loudest, angriest public meeting we’ve ever encountered. So we in Daglan are holding our breaths to see how the election resolves things.
Let’s start with how the opposing teams have presented themselves, on election posters that are located at a few choice spots in the village:
On the left is the poster for Ensemble pour Daglan (“Together for Daglan”), with 15 members running for office, headed by Marie-Odile Delahaye (who would become Mayor if Ensemble gets enough votes). On a separate fact sheet that was delivered door-to-door, all of the candidates’ photos were shown, with their names, their village or hamlet of residence, their occupation, and their age. The team also has been handing out circular stickers, with the following words around the edge: LIBERTÉ * ÉGALITÉ * FRATERNITÉ * DÉMOCRATIE * RESPECT.
On the right is the poster for the team known by the not very catchy title of Aimons Ensemble Daglan Demain. This team of 15 candidates is headed up by Pascal Dussol, who was elected Daglan’s Mayor in the election of 2014, when his team was known as Daglan Demain, or “Daglan Tomorrow.” This year, the names of the candidates are not even shown on the Aimons poster — there is just a group photo.
Both teams seem to favour the notion of togetherness (ensemble means together). But that certainly wasn’t evident at the public meeting when Madame Delahaye introduced the members of her Ensemble pour Daglan team, and started to set out some of the team’s ideas to improve life in the village and surrounding hamlets.
As I recall it, the crowd was polite as the team members spoke briefly, and while Madame Delahaye made introductory remarks. Then all politeness went out the window when her team’s specific ideas were introduced, as members of the audience literally shouted out questions and objections. Things deteriorated so far that three brothers (members of a prominent Daglan family) were alternately shouting at the Ensemble pour Daglan team and at each other.
Here’s a look at Madame Delahaye and some of her team, before the meeting got out of hand:
The public meeting for the Aimons Ensemble team took place this past Wednesday night in the village’s community hall (the Salle des fêtes), and was a much less angry affair. There were some reasonably tough questions put to the Mayor, but hardly any with the combative tone of the Ensemble team’s meeting. Probably the most entertaining aspect was watching one or both of the Mayor’s legs bouncing up and down nervously as he addressed the audience.
Here’s a look at some of the Aimons team, with M. Dussol in the centre, wearing a black shirt:
The results? All will be revealed once the votes are counted. But there’s one more issue to flesh out before I end this post — the fact that British residents have not been allowed to vote in the municipal elections, because of Brexit.
Jan feels strongly about this, because she has both U.K. and Canadian citizenship, and was not only allowed to vote in the election of six years ago but was able to stand as a candidate for councillor. (She wasn’t elected, but she did receive a very creditable number of votes.)
Dealing with the issue, here is the full text of a statement that the Ensemble pour Daglan team distributed into our mailbox, with the heading: “For the attention of all British Residents of the Commune of Daglan:”
“As you know, we have the Municipal elections this month in our village of Daglan.
“It is a great shame that the British population of the commune can no longer participate in these elections.
“Even so, in the event that our team, <<Ensemble pour Daglan>> is elected by the commune to become the management team, we would like all Daglanais, whether they are able to vote or not, to become involved in the life of our lovely commune.
“To this end, we are counting on the British community and invite you all to join the collective, <<Ensemble pour Daglan.>> Then the statement provides a website (www.Ensemblepourdaglan.fr) and an email address: email@example.com
That’s a commendable start, but my own view is that citizens of any country who live in a French municipality and who pay taxes to help support that community should be allowed to vote in the local elections. I do hope that the foreign community in France can organize some political pressure, and get the government to change the rules so that all residents who pay their local taxes can vote in the next municipal elections. We’ve got time — the next local elections are not to be held again until 2026.