Local French politics

I am not at all interested in politics, which can sometimes be hard in France, where it’s often a favorite topic of discussion among friends and family. However, my interest and knowledge of local French politics has increased the past few weeks, in part due to the recent municipal elections being the only thing on the television and radio, but mostly because my mother-in-law was elected as a deputy mayor of her town.

This was not a big surprise or anything, since there has only been one party running in the town for decades, and she was on the list this year. Still, it was fun to see her officially take up her role this past Sunday, while the rest of the country was all in a tizzy about the results in various major cities.

The first order of business for the newly elected town council was actually to elect the mayor. Again, this was not a surprise, since there was one candidate and he’s been the mayor for a long time and everyone seems to agree he does a pretty good job. I personally have issues with the absence of the annual “roasting an entire pig on a spit” festival the past 4 years due to budget cuts, but no one else seems to share my feelings about this . . . It was actually kind of funny, all the council members had to go through the motions of putting slips in the ballot box, and then they counted them, calling out his name each time.

Then the new mayor presented his list of deputies. My MIL is actually one of 6 deputy mayors. Why 6? It’s because the mayor can choose up to 30% of the number of council members to be deputies. The number of council members is determined by the size of the town.

The council members then had to vote to accept the list, and the whole amusingly redundant ballot box procedure was repeated. Then the mayor called the deputies up in order, and they got their sash and gave a little speech. My MIL’s father had been a deputy mayor back in the day, so this was especially exciting for the family, to have one of his children “go into politics.”

Then, as befits any official occasion in France, there was an apéro. Though I couldn’t eat or drink most of it, it did not seem appropriate for the daughter-in-law of a newly appointed deputy to be grumpy about that fact, so I just stood there smiling with my orange juice staring longingly at the various meats and cheeses on display.

So I’ll probably be hearing a lot more about how a small town gets run over the next months and years (they’re elected for 6 years!), which should be pretty interesting. And as a deputy, in addition to marriages, she can perform civil baptisms. Which apparently we are doing now for the bébé, whether we had been planning on baptising him or not . . . ah, how quickly power goes to the head!

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