“We have gone through crises, and hard ones. We will go through others”. It is with these words, among others, that the President of the Republic addressed a thousand city officials, gathered on Wednesday, November 23 at the Elysée. The speech followed the visit of the Head of State to the Salon des Maires, organized during the day at Porte de Versailles, in Paris.
A trip that made some teeth cringe. A few pavilions further away was indeed the Congress of the Association of Mayors of France (AMF), “with its sometimes protesting megaphones”, notes the Parisian. Emmanuel Macron preferred the institutions and companies that had set up their stands at the Salon des Maires.
In the aisles of the living room, the Head of State surveys the troops. “The aisles will host four hours during his new favorite question, a sign of the times: ‘Is morale good?'”, reports the daily again.
Because the president knows it, the concerns of the city councilors are numerous: an exploding budget, an energy crisis which does not spare the communities, and a growing feeling of insecurity.
For Emmanuel Macron to truly address these concerns, it will be necessary to wait until the beginning of the evening, and not at the Parc des expositions: the mayors will be invited to go to the Elysée Palace to hear the president’s speech.
Asked by several elected officials about the “delusional energy prices” that are taking cities by the throat, the Head of State insisted that financial means had been put in place to reduce the bill for municipalities: a regulated tariff for 30,000 municipalities, a real “electricity shock absorber” and “safety net” according to Emmanuel Macron.
Another solution widely promoted by Emmanuel Macron in front of the city councilors: the ecological and demographic transition. Transformations which “push to rethink the organization of society”, assured the President of the Republic, advancing that “a timetable, investments and changes” were already on the table, with, for example, the attribution additional aid for the energy renovation of schools.
But the cost of living is far from the only concern of mayors at the moment. In their municipalities, the feeling of insecurity is sometimes glaring, and they are the ones who are on the front line.
In recent years, attacks on elected municipal officials have become more and more frequent. Emmanuel Macron agrees: “The anxiety that we feel in society, sometimes the violence, the mayors take it first and foremost”. He promised to be “intractable” on this “unacceptable” violence, prioritizing “order and justice”, in the short term, and educational work in what he calls the “culture of respect” in long term.
“Every time someone chooses violence, he betrays democracy,” added the head of state, promising to allocate more resources to fight against insecurity in the communes.
And if many mayors have criticized the posture of the president, Emmanuel Macron wanted to send them a message of “support” and gratitude.
“To be mayor today is to decide on life and daily life in moments of great transformation”, declared the head of state in front of a thousand city councilors gathered at the Elysée.
“It’s a mission. It’s a political commitment, it’s also a civic commitment. They are at the heart of all crises”, continued the President of the Republic.
Yellow vests, pandemic, war in Ukraine … These crises, “we will go through others”, also hammered Emmanuel Macron.
In this regard, the President of the Republic has put forward his National Council for Refoundation, an organization providing for the establishment of a “new method to revitalize the democratic debate and face the major challenges facing the country. “.
His agenda, assures Emmanuel Macron, “is available locally, on health and education”, and aims to “restore freedom on the ground”. For him, “this national council of refoundation is an instrument of revolution”.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne should in turn speak to the Association of Mayors of France, as a “conclusion” at the Salon des Maires.