This is a priority issue on which local elected officials, meeting from Monday at the congress of the Association of Mayors of France (AMF) in Paris, must work. As the latest AMF and Cevipof survey reveals, attacks against elected officials, whoever they may be, are expected to increase by 15% in 2020, reaching 2,600 complaints and reports by the end of the year. Guest of the “Grand Jury-RTL-Le Figaro-M6” on Sunday, the president of the AMF, David Lisnard, warned of a “growing phenomenon”.
Mayor LR of Cannes first put forward a first explanation for this increase in violence: the “disintegration of authority” and the “questioning of the decision” from which these elected officials on the ground are directly suffering. “When you are mayor, our daily life is often to say no to abuse, to uncivil behavior, to throwing waste. So you expose yourself to individuals who sometimes behave like capricious retards rather than citizens,” he illustrated, before referring to the process of “decivilization” at work in society.
A second explanation is found, according to him, in an expression of “regal disintegration”, that is to say a “loss of State authority”. “When there is a feeling of impunity, there is a global carelessness (...) There is an inability to repress,” he continued, pointing to a “major problem in our country” . This is why David Lisnard wants local elected officials to be better protected, particularly by law. “The attack on an elected official or his denigration on social networks must be considered as an attack on a person holding public authority,” he insisted. The penalties incurred would then reach up to 7 years in prison and a fine of 100,000 euros.
In this context of violence and incivility, more and more local elected officials are choosing to throw in the towel before the end of their mandate. “Since 2020, there have been an average of 40 resignations of mayors per month,” warned the Cannes councilor, “double the number of the previous decade”. In total, more than 1,300 defections have already been recorded. Behind this great discouragement, David Lisnard also sees a disillusionment among city councilors between their “need for action” and their “capacity for action”. “The power to act has been diminished. We are a country of procedures. It is the bureaucracy that hinders action, we spend more and more time on paperwork,” he continued. And to explain: “where before it took a few weeks to carry out a project, it now takes a few years” Here again, the boss of the AMF denounced a “recentralization” both on the “normative” and “financial” level. at work for several decades already. According to him, Emmanuel Macron has not reversed the trend either, also submitting to “a very powerful technocratic and centralizing conformism”.
Another black point that the AMF congress should raise: the too low compensation for municipal elected officials. “The majority of mayors earn less than 1,080 euros, below the minimum wage. Very often, they lose financially,” regretted David Lisnard. Before arguing: “when you are mayor, you work a lot: when a mayor manages thousands of employees when he does everything himself, he should have at least middle management compensation.” The fact remains that the financial subject is, according to him, “not at all a priority in the minds of elected officials”, more concerned with the realization of their “mandate projects”. “If we did this for money, we would do something else,” he quipped.