Faced with thousands of mayors who were waiting for him at the turn, Emmanuel Macron defended his record on Thursday with pugnacity, receiving a more positive reception than in the past despite the indictment of the leaders of the Association of Mayors of France.
From the outset, the Head of State took the bull by the horns, evoking the tensions with the mayors who marked his five-year term. “There may have been misunderstandings at the beginning, there may have been prejudices,” he said during a speech closing the AMF congress in Paris, a euphemism that sparked a few laughs and relaxed the mood.
“I assume not to have been mayor,” he added, responding to a recurring criticism. Before starting with a smile: “But I am not the only president”, “General de Gaulle may have had the same fault”.
Before his intervention, the new president of the AMF, the LR mayor of Cannes David Lisnard, had listed the points of disagreement in a speech of nearly two hours.
He criticized the Head of State for “the extreme centralization” of his decisions. “How many prefects – I let myself be told sometimes even ministers – discovered the decisions at the same time as us”, he quipped. Calling for “a new breath of decentralization”, he unrolled, to the laughter – including of the president – the long catalog of acronyms of laws and plans which frame local decisions.
More critical still, the first vice-president of the AMF, the PS André Laignel, read an uncompromising resolution of the new office. “Dialogue, negotiation, trust: is it too much to ask? And yet this is what we have not been able to have for the past four years”. “Hopefully the future term that will open in 2022 will finally allow it.”
Attentive to renewing the dialogue five months before the presidential election, the Head of State took care, as he had done the day before by receiving a thousand mayors at the Elysee Palace in front of a generous buffet, to praise their action during the health crisis.
He recalled his question-and-answer hours with mayors during the great debate during the “yellow vests” crisis.
Mr. Macron then defended his choices, from the abolition of the housing tax to actions in favor of “city centers”, ensuring that he had preserved the resources of the municipalities, one of his points of friction with the leaders of the ‘AMF.
– “Deadly” debates –
“The housing tax was a tax for the middle classes, bad for small towns, unfair”, he pleaded, when David Lisnard denounced its abolition as “the last step in the total destabilization of our system of local taxation “.
“We must have consistency, if we call for respect and civility we must go to the end”, annoyed the Head of State when a whistle had just interrupted his speech, reminiscent of jeers at its first AMF congress in 2017.
Mr. Macron also called for avoiding the “deadly” debates between the state and local elected officials. “The State is a whole, there can not be the State vis-a-vis the elected officials”, he insisted.
His speech was finally quite applauded and the president stayed a long time for a walkabout. But many aediles remained unsatisfied.
“It is more a plea for an assessment than answers to the specific questions raised by our constituents”, commented Frédéric Pfliegersdoerffer, mayor (without label) of Marckolsheim (Bas-Rhin).
Same opinion for Jacky Marcheteau, mayor of Saint-Etienne de Brillouet, for whom “our president is very efficient in this kind of exercise, but he does not give up much”. “It does not answer questions of substance on the relations between the State and the local communities”, noted Anne Novello, deputy mayor of Gattières (Alpes-Maritimes).
“Yes, we are listened to by the government”, on the contrary rejoiced Caroline Cayeux, UDI mayor of Beauvais, citing an increase in the police force in her city.
Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by www.challenges.fr.
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