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Thursday, 13 February 2014

Anyone out there fancy standing for mayor in the French local elections?

Voter apathy - or at least a general disinterest in politics - is not an unknown phenomenon in elections.

And in the upcoming local elections in France there'll probably be plenty who just couldn't be bothered to make it to the polling stations.

But in the village of Ouvrouer-les-Champs in the département of Loiret, there's another kind of apparent indifference to the March 23 and 30 votes.

Nobody wants to stand to be mayor.

André Galhac is stepping down after just one term in office and none of his team - nor anyone else come to that - has come forward as a candidate.

André Galhac, mayor of Ouvrouer-les-Champs - looking for a successor ((screenshot BFM TV)

"If nobody stands then the election will not take place," said Galhac, stating perhaps the obvious.

"And the management and administration of the village will be taken over by the Préfecture."

And he's right.

The law in France has provisions for just such cases.

A 'special delegation' is formed to carry out the functions of the local council until a by-election can be held three months later. And if there still aren't any candidates then the Préfecture can propose merging the village - in this case - with a neighbouring one.

It's all there on the official website for "special cases" in local elections along with, for example, villages in which there are no voters (!!!) or in which there are only second homes.

Clearly Ouvrouer-les-Champs case is far from being an isolated one.

La Membrolle-sur-Longuenée (population, just under 2,000) in the département of Maine-et-Loire had problems finding anyone to stand until the current mayor Jean-Louis Gascoin "went public" in appealing for potential candidates back in December.

There are now two who've come forward.

And just to add another angle to the ongoing saga of local election stories, Laurent Jaoul the mayor of the town of Saint-Brès in the département of Hérault is actively encouraging opposition candidates to stand against him in his bid for re-election.

Laurent Jaoul, mayor of Saint-Brès - looking for someone to run against him (screenshot TVSudMedias)

"In a democracy there has to be a place for debate," he said.

"I've outlined all my plans and projects but no other candidate from the major parties (Jaoul is independent) has as yet managed to finalise a list," he continued.

"It would be the first time in 40 years that there hadn't been alternative lists proposed," he added, insisting that "yes" he really wanted to be elected but also have competition.

If anyone fancies "helping out" either Galhac in Ouvrouer-les-Champs or Jaoul La Membrolle-sur-Longuenée, check out the conditions for becoming a candidate.

You have until March 6 to get your act together.

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