Municipal elections aftermath

Provence & Côte d’Azur: Prime Minister resigns and Belgian cities sever ties with French cities

26-year-old David Rachline (FN) was just elected mayor of Fréjus. Photo:
26-year-old David Rachline (FN) was just elected mayor of Fréjus. Photo:

The fallout from the National Front’s resounding success in Sunday’s municipal elections is being felt on a number of levels. We’ve seen everything from Prime Minister Jean Marc Ayrault resigning to Belgium twin cities pulling out of France in disgust.

Though Philippe De La Grange, Marc-Etienne Lansade and David Rachline were chosen by the people to govern the cities of Le Luc, Cogolin and Fréjus, respectively, these three mayors from the far right National Front (Front National) party may have a harder job ahead of them than an average mayor.

Mistrust and fear of the extremist party may indeed take its toll on the working relations of these municipal leaders. Following the election results, Belgian cities of Farciennes and Arlon announced they were severing their twinning with French cities Beaucaire and Hayange, which have fallen to the FN.

Sebastien Jendrac, an FN spokesperson from the Var, told The Riviera Times that “Belgian communes can do whatever they want, but that won’t affect us in any way.”

Similarly, the president of Toulon’s Rugby Club, Mourad Boudjellal, decided to cancel a friendly match which was planned at Béziers because the city has elected an FN mayor.

As of now, no such tensions affect the Var’s three FN cities, and none is expected, says Jendrac. Meanwhile, Frédéric Boccatelli, the FN’s departmental secretary in the Var, told Var Matin, “All we’re asking is that [FN mayors] be regarded as any other mayor! No more, no less.”

On a national level, Jean Marc Ayrault handed the keys to the prime minister’s residence, the Matignon hotel, to his successor Manuel Valls at 3pm today, Tuesday 1st April.

Addressing the nation on the evening of 31st March, President François Hollande said he has taken note of the discontent and disappointment voiced by the French people during the municipal elections and promised quicker changes and a lowering of taxes by 2017.

By naming Manuel Valls at the head of the government, the president announced there would be a “tighter, stronger and more coherent” team, in other words, a “combat government.”

Valls’ new line up of ministers will be announced on Wednesday 2nd March, with a first minister council on Thursday. Among notable changes, it would seem Housing and Ecology Minister Cécile Duflot will not be keeping her functions or even taking part in the new government altogether.

It is unclear at the moment what consequences that will have on the controversial Loi Duflot which was passed in broad strokes on 20th February but for which the details are still being negotiated.

Also published on the Riviera Times Online