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"The impotence of the state strengthens the feeling of the citizen not to be listened to"

The president of the Association of Mayors of France was the guest on Thursday, Club Economy "World". Faced with the crisis of "yellow vests", he pleads for a clear decentralization.

Interview by Françoise Fressoz and Philippe Escande Posted yesterday at 09:45, updated yesterday at 11h12

Time to Reading 5 min.

François Baroin, guest of the Club of the economy of the "World" Thursday, January 31, surrounded by Françoise Fressoz and Philippe Escande, editorialists.
François Baroin, guest of the Club of the economy of the "World" Thursday, January 31, surrounded by Françoise Fressoz and Philippe Escande, editorialists. Jean-Luc Luyssen

Guest Thursday, January 31, the Club of the economy of World, François Baroin called for an act III of decentralization, "A large-scale act, which can not be reduced to the simple differentiation of policies according to this or that region". A track, according to him, to respond to the crisis born of the movement of "yellow vests".

The movement of "yellow vests"

"No one should underestimate the reality of what has been happening in the country for two months. The movement of "yellow vests" is deep. It comes from the territories, brings together a portion of the population that is below the median income, between 1 600 and 1 700 euros monthly. Most of these people have jobs, pay taxes, are entitled to the same public services as others, but in reality do not have them. For them, the issue of transportation is vital because they live far from workplaces, with most jobs concentrated in medium-sized cities, 20, 30 or 40 kilometers away. Little by little, taxes have increased their purchasing power, until the fuel tax triggers the movement. When you are elected head of state or community, the first question you need to ask yourself is: what should I do? for who ? where ? More than 37% of French people live in municipalities with 2,500 inhabitants, half in municipalities with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants. It's the sociology of the country, the reality of France. She was neglected. I'm not saying that the President of the Republic is responsible for everything, but he has his share of responsibility. "

Our selection of articles to understand everything in "yellow vests"

A populist moment?

"Am I worried? Who would not be ? Because of globalization, because of Europe which seems so far removed from their preoccupations, because of the strong dependence of the States with regard to the markets for the financing of their public policies, many citizens have the impression of to live in a world to which they do not belong. So, they try to protect the corner of the street. However, the answers provided no longer respond to the preservation of the minimum: local public services, the presence of the digital, the existence of a town hall, state of intermediate roads, everything seems threatened and it feeds populism, against a backdrop of misinformation. The "fake news" that is developing is an element of global destabilization of democracies. In this context, we must all have the spirit of responsibility. "

The role of mayors

"Contrary to what we have said a lot, there is no war between Emmanuel Macron and the Association of Mayors of France. The vast majority of mayors are not politically engaged, but they are committed to defending what seems good to them. They did it under every government, regardless of the President of the Republic. Today, I welcome Emmanuel Macron's initiative to put them at the heart of the reconstruction of the social fabric and the republican pact. They are the last elected to still have credibility, precisely because they are closest to the corner of the street. "

The big national debate

"Personally, I find it works pretty well. Mayors play their role of facilitator. Everyone is free to find the most suitable modalities. Those who want to animate do it. In Troyes, I do not animate but I set up an Internet service. The Trojans can write to me or speak directly to the mission of the great debate. What matters in this exercise is a little what is said, and much what will be proposed. Should the President of the Republic rebalance his economic policy? Under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy, we had the same type of debate. We have supported the supply-side policy, lowered the constraints on companies to encourage job creation. Then the crisis of 2008 arrived and we decided to preserve the social minima and to put in place an individual guarantee of the purchasing power. On 10 December 2018, the President of the Republic announced 10 billion euros of measures to support purchasing power in a more balanced way than during the first eighteen months of his mandate. Should he go further? No doubt, because it is difficult not to walk on both legs. "

An act III of decentralization

"When you have a state that accumulates 2,200 billion euros of debt, you can not be sure that it will be able to respond today on all the issues that arise on a daily basis in our country. But the major subject today is the feeling of abandonment of territories that are not metropolises. The impotence of the state strengthens the citizen's feeling of not being listened to. This is why I am calling for an act III of decentralization, a far-reaching act, which can not be reduced to the simple differentiation of the policies of one or another region, as this would only amplify disparities in wealth. .

One must ask what is expected of the state, define its sovereign missions and entrust the rest to local communities. Take the example of employment center. If we consider that its mission is economic integration or reconquest through work, the region is competent, since the State has entrusted, without really saying, the task of developing the territory through a number of missions . I hear, of course, the objections: for years, it was as if the elected officials would put their pockets, build mansions, etc. I remind you that a local authority does not have the right to borrow money to finance its operation and that in case of deficit the municipality is taken in hand by the prefect.

For being on both sides of the fence, I can tell you that local communities are much better managers than the state. Imagine that we did not transfer the primary to the communes, the college to the departments, the high schools to the regions, do not you think that we would know today in the school frame the same problems as in the hospitals? The debate on the reduction of the number of the elect appeals to the opinion but it is badly posed. An official who enters the workforce at age 25 and leaves at age 62 still has twenty years of life expectancy. Its budget cost over this life cycle is 1.5 million to 1.8 million euros. An elected official is between 300,000 and 400,000 euros. Even in terms of the budget, we have an interest in protecting this social fabric, this republican guard that is called to the rescue today to save the institutions. "

Françoise Fressoz and Philippe Escande

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