31 January, 2014

Frédéric Béatse and his running mates launch their campaign

Frédéric Béatse a officiellement lancé sa campagne le 30 janvier par la présentation de ses co-listiers devant plus de 1 000 personnes réunies au centre de congrès et en publiant ses engagements sur son site de Aimer Angers. Au nombre de ceux-ci figure celui d'un étalement dans le temps de la réalisation des grands projets tels que la seconde ligne de tramway et Angers Rives Nouvelles. Il répond ainsi implicitement à ceux qui pointent le doigt sur la soutenabilité des investissements. Mais M. Béatse ne veut pas céder au pessimisme. 

Frédéric Béatse officially launched on January 30th his electoral campaign to conquer the Angers mayor Aimer Angers, were already convinced that the main goals of his next term, "the stimulation of the local economy and employment as well as the visibility and the attractiveness of the town from outside", on one side, "the strengthening of solidarity between inhabitants" on the other.
office and to win Angevins' hearts. That start was rather a success. After the left main challenger, Christophe Béchu, presented his running mates at the Chanzy theatre a few days ago, the socialist candidate and current mayor, choose the congress centre to introduce his running mates and his programme and filled the hall. About 1 200 persons, many of them with the pink scarf, color of his list

That meeting was important given that Mr. Béatse's candidacy could have recently been weakened by the critics from the deputy-mayor about the ability of the town to finance numerous projects in the next term. But he counter attacked : "the project does not give in to pessimism. Some say that we should not do more, that we should to content ourselves with very little. Those are running  in a depressive mood because they don't live in Angers", a clear critic against, mainly, Mr. Béchu. In his introduction, the previous mayor, Jean-Claude Antonini toughly hurted Jean-Luc Rotureau, himself former deputy-mayor whod has criticized the conditions of Mr. Béatse's election. "That vote wasn't a putsch, it was legitimate unlike another embittered and bad loser candidate suggested it".

The candidate also published on the website his campaign Aimer Angers a booklet about his commitiments in which some of them are new : to lift Angers as "the world capital of vegetal" and to set up a Angers center for international relations, to built 5 000 new homes and to change the organization of the railway station district, to settle a delegate in charge of the man-woman equality, to deploy the municipal police in all Angers districts, to settle a cultural facility in the former Les Variétés cinema, to launch a festival of contemporary musics in 2015 as well as a children's day.The candidate also promised that he will not raise local tax rates and, last but no least, committed himself to spread out over time major projects like the second tramway line, and the Angers New Banks settlement.

30 January, 2014

The 2014 city finances invest the municipal campaign

La non participation du maire-adjoint aux finances, André Despagnet, à l'adoption du budget d'investissement 2014 de la ville d'Angers a marqué de façon spectaculaire, entre lui et le maire, une divergence de vue sur les dépenses que la ville a les moyens d'engager. Elle peut aussi illustrer son appui à Jean-Luc Rotureau, challanger direct à gauche de Frédéric Béatse, actuel maire et candidat à sa propre succession. Un événement que l'opposition n'a pas manqué d'exploiter.

André Despagnet (right) [Credit Mairie d'Angers]
The meeting of the Angers city council on January 30th showed a dramatic and deep disagreement about the 2014 municipal budget. André Despagnet, the deputy mayor in charge of finances for more than 30 years denied to vote in favour of the capital budget of the town. Mr. Despagnet had already considered, after the previous meeting, that the amount of the planned investments in the current year was "too high" (Angers Daily News, January 7th). The standpoint of the deputy-mayor caused bitterness to the mayor, Frédéric Béatse, who reminded him that "we had prepared that budget together and, at the very moment of its completion, I have asked you, into each other's eyes, if it was ok and you told me 'it's ok'".

Frédéric Béatse
Doing so, Mr. Despagnet not only suggests that the city may not get the sufficient resources to implement its projects (especially as Mr. Béatse promised he will not raise taxes rates) but, above all, gave his implicit support to Jean-Luc Rotureau, former deputy-mayor and himself challenger, on the left side, of the current mayor in the next municipal elections. While, in 2013, the Angers capital budget totalled up about € 69 millions, the that of 2014 is € 76 millions. "It's difficult for me to present that [2014] budget today. Yes I have some qualms. I am not at ease" adding, to his majority colleagues "You heared me but you didn't listen to me" and warning that "more borrowings" would lead to "more taxes".

Jean Luc Rotureau (left) [ Credit Le Blog de JLR]
The left and right oppositions in city council stepped into the breach. Mr. Rotureau, who asked for a public debate about the municipal finances, supported Mrs. Despagnet's opinion and criticized his challengers for their "infeasible projects catalogs". Laurent Gérault, the centrist candidate pointed out that the 2014 budget was "a turning point" and the "presages of the passage from a healthy situation to a damaged one for the years to come".

Between Frédéric Béatse and Jean-Luc Rotureau, a point of no-return seems to have been reached because the same day, each of them claimed they got the support of the left political party, the Parti radical de gauche (Prg). Mr. Béatse, in the afternoon, claimed he had rallied the support of the Prg and read a national press release telling so while, a little bit later in the afternoon, the Angers section of the same Prg announced that it will support Jean-Luc Rotureau's candidacy...

29 January, 2014

A new freeze of Angers tax rates is likely, but the economic conditions are not sunny

La réunion du conseil municipal peu de temps avant les élections était une opportunité pour Frédéric Béatse de rappeler sa fidélité à une ligne politique : celle de ne pas augmenter les taux des impôts locaux au cours des années à venir. Si l'annonce n'est pas sans avantage politique, elle n'est pas non plus sans lien avec la situation économique locale.

The opportunity is too important to be forgotten but is, neverthess, consistent with the low profile of the economic situation of Angers and Maine-et-Loire. The Angers mayor, Frédéric Béatse, should announce in the monthly meeting of the city council due to take place on January 29th that the rates of the Angers taxes should not be raised in 2014 and 2015, a policy that has been applied in Angers for nearly 30 years with only one exception, in 2011, because, in particular, of the costs of the first tramway line.

But the last economic datas are not favourable. The bad news announced by the president of the Angers
commercial court have, alas, been confirmed by recent figures. Regarding unemployment, the Maine-et-Loire rate increased by 0.6% in december. This is, after the Sarthe department, the worst of the Pays de la Loire region. In 2013, the number of joblesses has increased by 6.1% in Maine-et-Loire. About 37 000 persons were looking for a work. The level of the unemployment rate in Maine-et-Loire (10.6%) is beyond the national rate (10.5%) since June 2013.

In the construction industry, the volume of projects implemented has decreased in Maine-et-Loire what, in compensation, leads to lower prices. So the likely freeze of local tax rates is in line with the economic context. That one should also stabilise or even contract the resources of the city in the years to come. This would gave legitimacy to include in the public debate the finances of the city in the years to come.

28 January, 2014

The Bistrot Louboutin, a London touch in Molière square

Longtemps défigurée par un parking automobile, puis envahie par le chantier du tramway, la place Molière a maintenant retrouvé un visage attrayant. L'arrivée du Bistrot Louboutin en est le symbole. Antoine Louboutin y a recréé l'atmosphère intime des bars d'hôtels qu'il a connus lors de son expatriation à Londres. Les Angevins reviennent vers cette place qui, quelle soit l'issue des élections, jouera un rôle plus important dans les années à venir. Cela ouvre des perspectives, pas seulement visuelles.

A few years ago, the Molière square was only an ugly parking lot and a noisy crossroads of cars and buses. It was even worse during the works of the first tramway line when the square hosted dozens of mobile worksite huts. Because of the tramway works are now part of the past, because the asphalted area gave way to a sandy stretch with trees, plants, statue, and above all, because a Bistrot Louboutin has settled there on mid-January, the Molière square looks to get a new lease of life.

"I was immediately attracted by that esplanade and the appeal of the place", remembers Antoine Louboutin who, with his wife, tried hard to keep intact the character of the ground floor of the building where, formerly, was settled an automobile equipement seller. "Having worked in London for several years, our idea was to create the atmosphere of the hotel bars of that city where you may have a drink in a cosy and elegant setting". People look to be receptive to the untreated walls of the Bistro where nevertheless intimacy and comfort are preserved  : the Bistrot Louboutin welcomes customers coming from the immediate surroundings and downtown. Antoine Louboutin hopes that tourists will come next summer.

That surely be the case in the years to come because the Molière square will be more attractive whoever be the future mayor. The square would benefit from the New Banks of Maine scheme, planned by Frédéric Béatse, current Angers mayor but also with the unification of the Molière and Poissonière squares that his challenger, Christophe Béchu, promises as well as the junction of the two tramway lines very close to the Bistrot.

So Antoine Louboutin may devise projects. "I have always projects in mind" he says. One of them consists in a transposition of his Molière Bistrot in... Los Angeles "by five to seven years". Yes, the Molière square is indeed an interesting viewpoint.

The tramway B line divides candidates before it unifies the town

Si elle doit un jour unifier la ville, la ligne B du tramway divise actuellement les candidats. Laurent Gérault a , pour le centre, proposé un tracé plus court "en ligne" avec ses propositions de gel des taux des impôts locaux. Mais cela fait planer une incertitude sur la desserte du quartier Grand-Pigeon. Les majorité et opposition actuelles s'affrontent mutuellement. Au terme d'un débat plutôt violent, on pourrait remettre la balle au... centriste. 

Maybe the two lines of the Angers tramway will unify the city, but currently, they divide the candidates to mayor office. Frédéric Béatse had its own. Then a few weeks ago, Christophe Béchu devised another route. Now, Laurent Gérault introduces a new way. According to the centrist candidate's plan, the B line would be shorter : 8 kms against 12 planned in others projects. It would link the Belle-Beille quarter, where most universities are located to angers down town by the hospital, a common route over the Maine river with the first line then would stop at the Congress centre before going towards Monplaisir. 

Implicitely, Laurent Gérault wants a less costly trolley because he promised he would not raise the taxes. While the original scheme introduced at Angers loire Métropole aded up to € 358 millions, the overall cost of Mr. Gérault's project would not go beyond € 190 millions but would nervertheless join several important Angers districts, Belle-Beille, Doutre, Saint-Jacques-Nazareth, Deux-Croix-Banchais-Monplaisir.  The servicing of the Grand-Pigeon quarter is not yet sure. An alternative route would go by Pasteur avenue.

In the meantime, the Aimer Angers (Frédéric Béatse) and Angers pour vous (Christophe Béchu) lists confront. For Mr. Béatse, one of his deputy-mayors, Luc Belot, said that a tramway route through La Doutre should be "an abomination" and that it would damage the stores businesses of that quarter. That critic of a "political coup" by Mr. Belot led Bernard Dupré, one of the main running mates of Mr. Béchu to say that such a standpoint was "appallingly" given the relationships between Angers stores owners and the city council during the last term. After those mutual critics, the ball goes to centrists...

27 January, 2014

Two challenging successes are waiting the next Angers city council

Angers a enregistré deux beaux succès le dernier week end. Le festival cinématographique Premiers plans a battu son record de participants. Le jour de clôture du festival, l'équipe de hockey Les Ducs d'Angers remportait une magistrale victoire en finale de la coupe de France à Paris. Ces deux évenements ont un point commun : ils mettent en évidence le possible décalage entre les capacités d'accueil du public par certains des équipements sportifs et culturels de la ville. Une question que les dirigeants de ces événements "marqueurs" à plus d'un titre n'ont pas manqué de soulever.

The 26th edition of the European first film festival broke through a new threshold in attendance. About 73 000 festival goers took interest, for ten days to that event dedicated to European first shots and is meant to help new directors to meet their audience.  About 33 000 film viewers attended the tributes to several directors, and among them, the French Patrice Chéreau, native from Angers region who died in 2013. Once again, the Festival attracted many youngs from colleges and universities (25 000)  while approximately 24 000 tickets were sold for screenings. The managers of the event have had a good idea to get the re-opening of the Les Variétés theatre (close since October 2013) where 30% of the overall attendance has been noticed.

Credit Pictures : Ville d'Angers
On the festival closure, on January 26th, the Angers hockey team won the France cup in front of 13 000 spectators in the general-purposes Paris-Bercy palace. The event led the Angers mayor Frédéric Béatse  to consider that such a victory was a signal of the necessity of a new ice skating for the Angers team Les Ducs, an issue on which the next Angers mayor, whoever he is, will have to deal. These two events are synonyms of challenges for the city. The future of both the European first films festival and the Angers Dukes could suffer from too small capacities which could later hamper the development of these national recognized assets while Angers is trying to get a better recognition abroad and even in France.

For Valérie Trierweiler, a "new start" is maybe born

Sa séparation avec le président de la république est sans doute une épreuve pour Valérie Trierweiler. Mais elle ouvre aussi des perspectives à celle qui n'a jamais totalement interrompu son activité journalistique. Elle pourrait peut être trouver à D8, chaîne filiale de Canal+, une consoeur elle aussi venue de la politique et... d'Angers.

Valérie Trierweiler (Wikipedia)
Valérie Trierweiler having left her official duties as former partner of the France president François Hollande, she plans to be committed full time in her editorial work in the Paris-Match magazine. But, maybe, this career change could go beyond. At the end of 2012, Mrs. Trierweiler had the project to work for D8 (after she worked seven years for Direct 8, the channel from which D8 has derived from), a private generalist French tv channel owned by the Canal + group. Given her new time schedule and functions after Mr. Hollande's election, she was led to give up the idea of a work in that channel. If D8 has a low market share (3.7% in 2013), in comparison with others, private or public, nevertheless the channel broadcasted several shows, and among those "Le Grand 8", led by famous presenters.

Roselyne Bachelot (left) [Credit picture : D8]
One of them is Roselyne Bachelot, former minister and member of parliament elected several times in a
Maine-et-Loire constituency including Angers and the Monplaisir district where Valérie Trierweiler's family still lives. Two years ago, Mrs. Trierweiler who foresaw an eventuel collaboration in a semestrial programme dedicated to humanitarian issues, finally choose to abandon that idea because of possible conflict of interest between her position as "first lady" and journalist. So one of the trails D8 could now explore could be an interview of Mrs. Trierweiler by Mrs. Bachelot, both of them having a large knowledge of the French political life habits. And, in compensation, Valérie Trierweiler could resume her previous project at D8. She could have a lot of things to talk about. Angers would have lost a first lady but would have won a "Nouvelle star".

26 January, 2014

Angers has not anymore its first lady

Angers a perdu "sa première dame" de France avec sa séparation officialisée le 25 janvier par François Hollande, président de la république. Celle-ci, qui ne reviendra pas à l'Elysée, a refusé de cosigner le communiqué de presse mettant fin à sept ans de vie commune. Si des conditions financières ont été conclues, si Valérie Trierweiller habitera l'appartement privé de François Hollande, si elle retrouvera ses chroniques à Paris-Match, une nouvelle vie commence néanmoins pour elle. Ainsi prend fin une affaire qui a, pendant quinze jours, captivé la terre entière. 

Angers will not have anymore "its first lady".  French president François Hollande has confirmed that he is separating from his native Angers partner, Valérie Trierweiler after, a fortnight ago, it was revealed that he had an affair with an actress, Julie Gayet. It was said that such a situation was a great shock for Mrs. Trierweiler who was due to enter hospital then a presidential residence for rest. On January 25th evening, she tweeted thanks to the "wondeful staff" at the Elysee palace.

The former first lady is due to go to India with a caritative organization, but in totally private conditions. But on the other hand, she will not be with François Hollande for an official trip to the United States where he will be the guest of president Barack Obama at the White House, a place Mrs Trierweiler visited as partner of Mr. Hollande last year. If Valérie Trierweiler refused to sign the official press release about her split with the president because she wanted him to assume full responsability, nevertheless the financial conditions of the separation were negociated last week. The ex-first lady has been assured by the Paris Match that she could continue to sign chronicles as editor in that magazine and by the former president that she could live in the private appartment in Paris they rented.

For Valérie Trierweiler, a new life now starts. She is 48 and lived with François Hollande since 2007 and her family lives in the Angers Monplaisir quarter. On the following day after the split, the pages dedicated to Mrs. Trierweiler timetable by the Elysée website has only be erased on Sunday morning. A remarkable emotional saga that has captivated the French - and the world - for the last two weeks has now ended.

24 January, 2014

The dynamic of the electoral campaign stimulates the political offers

Après la présentation, par Christophe Béchu, de ses co-listiers aux élections municipales, le centre n'est pas resté inactif. Laurent Gérault, recevant le secrétaire national de l'Udi, a renvoyé dos à dos la majorité sortante et sa rivale Ump. Le Front national annonce qu'il présentera une liste mais parait lui plus favorable à Frédéric Béatse qu'à son challenger, ce qui augure mal de report de voix à droite. Cette agitation donne des idées à d'autres candidats. Passé le 1er tour, il sera dur de recoller les morceaux.

Laurent Gérault
The growing dynamic of the electoral campaign recently illustrated by the introduction of Christophe Béchu's running mates is apparently only at its beginning. Laurent Gérault, the centrist candidate, got, once again, the official support of the Union des démocrates indépendants (Udi) who sent in Angers on January 23rd its national general secretary. That visit was an opportunity for Mr. Gérault to hurl critics to his challengers, both from left and right. 

Christophe Béchu
The centrist leaders criticized Mr. Béchu (Union pour une majorité populaire) about his idea to settle a nocturnal district in Angers (near the Saint-Serge square) where the students could give free rein to their meetings and parties. Mr. Gérault and his Udi colleague advocated the end of the "promises fair" and of the "overbids in announcements". But they also condemned the management of the city by the outgoing majority. "Angers switches off, that is visible from a national standpoint, the unemployment is blowing up and the medium resources of Angevins are decreasing, the city lacks of attractiveness", they said. 

Frédéric Béatse
Opportunely, because they were gathered in the Monplaisir district, they found regrettable that the € 40 millions invested in AquaVita, the Angers new swimming pool due to open on January 25th, were not used for the renovation of that quarter. On a more political register, they considered Christophe Béchu was responsible of the impossibility to have a united list between centre and right in those municipal elections, what makes rather scarce the chances of rapprochement later. 

Gaétan Dirand
This is even more unlikely with the Front national (Fn) whose leader, Gaétan Dirand, aims for the arrival of Fn town councillors, next March. Mr. Dirand said he would have already gathered a sufficient number of running mates and indicated he was more favourable to Frédéric Béatse (Parti socialiste), current mayor than for Mr. Béchu : "[the first] lacks legitimacy but he partially overcame it making clear he would not compete for a national mandate. He is working and he is seen in the Angers districts. I would not say the same for Christophe Béchu who gives the feeling he is running to that election as he would do for the United States senate". There again, there are few chances for a transfer of votes from the Fn to the Ump on the second round. 

The elections give ideas to small lists. An "Angers vivre mieux" platform has been constituted by citizens favourable to environment protection, participatory democracy and the exemplary nature of future town councillors. On the far left, a new list also arose, "Résister, construire à gauche", already in the 2008 campaign with almost 5% of votes. It will be difficult to bring back together all those political pieces after the first round. 

23 January, 2014

Valérie Trierweilers, the Angevine partner of the French president says she "will stand by her man"

Valérie Trierweiller ne veut pas quitter son compagnon, ni son "statut'" de première dame. La rélation par celui-ci de sa liaison avec une actrice l'a mise dans une violente colère. Elle ne veut pas être rejetée d'une manière qui ne serait pas élégante. 

She doesn't want to give up. Valérie Trierweiler, the Angevine "girl friend", so nicknamed by the Us tv channel Cnn, of the French president, François Hollande, would not be ready to abandon her "status" of first lady, neither his partner. That one, who was due to recognized he had an affair with an actress, prompted a violent shock to Mrs. Trierweiler thereafter sent to hospital, then to the La Lanterne pavilion for a rest. It was even said that the revelation of that liaison would have triggered a fit of anger from Mrs. Trierweiler in the office of the president.

Now the patient would be ready to forgive the president of whom she shares the life for ten years. She would not have abandoned the idea to go to the United States and the White House to see the american president. But the Angevine partner of Mr. Hollande would not be ready to be thrown away anyhow and that would have refused to give her consent to a press release which would have officialized the presidential couple split up. But Mr. Holland announced during his last week news conference that he would "make a statement" before his trip to Washington. That would be done by early next week.

A rumor said that, during her interview with Mr. Hollande, Mrs Trierweiler would have wrescked some furnitures in a fit of revenge, what has been " categorically denied" by the government"s property agency. Nevertheless the dispute would have been real. It is said that Mr. Hollande would eventually choose to stay in the Elysée palace as single until the end of his term so as to avoid further scandals. Angevines apparently have temper.

Christophe Béchu's troops in order of municipal battle

Christophe Béchu, candidat de l'Ump aux prochaines élections municipales, a présenté son équipe le 23 janvier, ainsi que ses projets et l'état d'esprit qui l'anime. La liste fait une large place à des personnes n'ayant jamais exercé de responsabilités municipales ainsi qu'à des militants centristes. S'il fait valoir que le bilan de 37 annnées sans alternance n'est pas favorable à l'actuelle majorité, M. Béchu ne considère pas pour autant que les choses sont jouées. Il faudra du porte à porte et du bouche à oreille pour convaincre l'électorat de la nécessité de "remettre la ville sur les bons rails".

With the unveiling of his troops, apparently the first of all candidates, two month before the conquest of the city council majority, Christophe Béchu, leader of the list Angers pour vous, clearly intended to mobilize the energy of his team and his supporters who filled the Chanzy theatre on January 23. Mr. Béchu, who urged his followers to spread, by door to door and word of mouth, "the need for change" he feels in Angevins'minds, clearly doesn't consider that the elections are already won.

Fifty four running mates are ready. Less than the half of those people (21) was already involved by Christophe Béchu's side in 2008 against Jean-Claude Antonini, and among them only 12 are Union pour une majorité populaire's members, the others supporting : 12, the Mouvement démocrate, 5 the Union des démocrates indépendants (which are 17 centrists), one coming from a left party. The other half enters in policy for the first time.

It is clear that the proportion of centrists among Mr. Béchu's team indicates the will of that one to win the city council thank to the votes of the christian-democrat electorate. That long time component of Angers political life was helpful to Jean Monnier, the first Angers mayor of the socialist era, Mr. Béchu wants to put an end after "37 years without alternation". The advantage is also to nip Laurent Gérault's (Udi) candidacy in the bud while that one was due to receive the official support of that organization on January 24th.

The programme stakes on the economy and the necessity to decrease expenses. Through his priorities, Christophe Béchu charged the track record of the current city council majority regarding the settlement of companies fueling new jobs what he will change thanks to a reduction of the number of local organizations being responsible with the search of new businesses. He also held out his hand to retail store owners he considers they were victims of a "six years contempt" and promised to lower the fares of car parks with a "no charged first hour".

Regarding his adversaries' schemes, and especially the Maine banks layouts (he wants to realize with the cover of the current speedway) and a new route for the second tramway line, he promised he will not raise taxes and reduce the current debt. He also announced the complete review of scholar schedules, an emblematic reform of the current French government and the implementation of a nocturnal district close to the Saint-Serge square. The Ump's candidate pointed out the seriousness of Angers situation and promised he will "bring it back on the good tracks". His adversary, Christophe Béatse plans to introduce his own team at the end of the month.

22 January, 2014

The Maine-et-Loire economic authorities warn political representatives about the seriousness of current circumstances

En adressant aux élus et chefs d'entreprise de Maine-et-Loire des voeux conjoints, les présidents des trois principaux organismes économiques du département ont marqué la gravité de la situation et la nécessité de réformes fortes et mises en oeuvre dès après les municipales. Des mesures qui ne concernent pas seulement les habitants et les actifs mais aussi tous ceux qui les représentent. 

In many occasions, the content of an event is more important than its form. But that is not always true. The New Year ceremony organized on January 20th at the Greniers Saint-Jean by the three consular chambers illustrated that the way a message is expressed may be as important as the message itself. While the Angers political representatives are more divided than ever, given the closeness of the municipal elections, the presidents of the Chambre d'agriculture, Chambre de commerce et d'industrie and Chambre de métiers of Maine-et-Loire were gathered to adress, in front of political decision-makers, their best wishes to their members, craftsmen, farmers and managers, but beyond them, to the local economy which desperately needs supports... and unity.

Their tone was the same of a warning signal. According to Gérard Aubry, the Chambre de métiers' president, "it is henceforth the activity, the growth, indeed the survival of companies, little, medium or large which is becoming decisive for our country" while his colleage, François Beaupère (Chambre d'agriculture) pointed out that "We are loosing volumes [of outputs], this is a real danger". For the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie's president, Eric Groud, "tonight, we put a turbulent, economically difficult 2013 year behind us, with a sham recovery which, insidiously, may lead our companies in their ultimate corner".

Given the seriousness of the situation, the three chairmen urged the audience, and among it the Maine-et-Loire prefect, the Maine-et-Loire senators, the Angers Loire Métropole president, the Angers mayor, "to take a global view [provided that] all our ways of thinking are upset [by the current economic mutation]". Considering than "the quarrels" between the Conseil général and Angers city were "fruitless", the economic delegates, through Mr. Groud's speech, wished that the "Responsability agreement" recently announced by the French president be source of administrative simplifications and reduction of public expenses. Regarding the territorial reform (the decrease of the number of regions), it is wished that "the scheme be based on economic projects rather than administrative concerns" and that "it should be implemented straight after the municipal elections".

The candidates to mayor office having yet promised that such reforms would be applied inside Angers, like the merger of town and department structures, will be - if elected - carefully watched.

21 January, 2014

The Angevine Valérie Trierweiler's fate looks uncertain, but the "First lady status" even more

La situation de l'Angevine Valérie Trierweiler comme première dame de France reste incertain. Si celle-ci serait disposée à accompagner son compagnon François Hollande aux Etats-Unis début février, il est probable que la décision de rester ou de partir dépende encore seulement d'elle car au fur et à mesure que le temps passe l'affaire prend un tour politique. La position de Mme Trierweiler est précaire, mais l'usage d'entretenir une première dame encore plus.

The most famous Angevine, Valérie Trierweiler, whose status as first lady remains unclear, has left a few
Mrs. Trierweiler (right) [Credit Picture : Elysée website]
days ago the hospital Pitié-Salpêtrière where she was hosted for a week after his companion, François Hollande, French president, told her he had an affair with an actress, Julie Gayet. After her departure from the hospital, Mrs. Trierweiler went to La Lanterne, an official residence for the French president located near the Versailles castle. François Hollande's partner is said to stay there and have a rest for a few days. After she left Pitié-Salpêtrière, Mrs. Trierweiller thanked all the people who sent her messages through her Twitter personal (and not official) account.

According to French medias, the president and her partner would have not yet made up their mind about their future : to remain together or to split up. It seems that, even if Valérie Trierweiler didn't refuse to go with the president to the United States where this one is invited on February 11th, the future of the couple doesn't anymore depend on Mrs. Trierweiler's choice. The French president is said to be the ultimate decision-maker in that matter. The point is far from to be only sentimental. According to French medias, an absence of choice would make resurface the critic of indecisiveness against Mr. Hollande.

Some of the top Socialist leaders think that a reconciliation between the first French couple would not be believable and, in case of split that Valérie Trierweiler should immediately leave the Lanterne pavilion financed by the French tax payer. Questioned about the fact Mrs. Trierweiler is still the first lady, Mr. Hollande didn't answered but it is believed that he would not anymore wish to have a first lady besides him. At least officially. Valérie Trierweiller out of the game would deprive the future Angers mayor of a leverage. But thanks to her, the French First lady use will be given up.

20 January, 2014

Jean-Luc Rotureau wants a public debate between candidates about the resources of the city in the years to come

Jean-Luc Rotureau veut un débat public entre candidats aux élections municipales sur les finances de la ville. Au-delà de l'intérêt d'occuper le terrain électoral et de laisser entendre que les autres programmes ne sont pas viables ce qui va tendre le débat, il promet que pendant son mandat, il n'augmentera pas les impôts.

Jean-Luc Rotureau, candidate to Angers mayor office and direct challenger of Frédéric Béatse, reiterated on January 19th in his blog, that a debate about the likely financial resources of the town would be necessary. "The electoral campaign is the opportunity for candidates to put forward numerous projects, some are realistic, others no. The finances of the city are not anymore what they were before. To tell the opposite would be to lie. I wish to demonstrate it in public. The rooms for maneuver are henceforth much more narrow than before, it is necessary to explain it", said Mr. Rotureau.

The standpoint has, for the candidate, several advantages. First, it is a valuable opportunity for him to be on the front stage during the municipal campaign which is far from to be over and it is important for Mr. Rotureau, as for  Mr. Gérault, to stay the distance. The second interest is to lead his adversaries to temper their own projects or, at least, their communication about those projects. And the last is to instil the idea that the political representatives, in the majority and in the minority, are not anymore in touch with the economic climate and that a chapter has been closed. "There is no more time for demagoguery because of electoral purposes. The projects of my platform are realizable without a tax increase", Mr. Rotureau said making the debate more strained. 

Tactically, the choose to lean on the local medias. "I ask [them] to organize that debate", repeated Jean-Luc Rotureau. This one also invited his adversaries to support his idea what, if case of refusal,  may lead voters to think there is something hidden. "It is necessary the Angevins be completely enlightened before their final choice", pointed out the candidate who also promised, as Laurent Gérault, he will not raise taxes.

18 January, 2014

Laurent Gérault promises he will pull all into economy

Credit Pictures : Servir Angers
After municipal finances, the Laurent Gérault's news conference on January 17th was dedicated to the Angers economic situation and the ways he would choose to favour its recovery. Accompanied by two new running mates, a manager and an university professor, Mr. Gérault, because the electoral campaign must have its play, pointed out the "dropping out" of the city during the late years. He specifically reminded that the local unemployment rate had risen. While, for a long time, that landmark was obviously below the national rate, in 2013, national and local unemployment rates were roughly similar (10.6%). The centrist candidate moreover relied on the latest news from the Angers commercial court regarding the difficulties of Angers companies which are said to have severely worsened in 2013.

Laurent Gérault and running mates
Another (and traditional) argument was used, the compari-son of Angers with its clo-sest neigh-bours : Nan-tes and Ren-nes where students would find more easily their first job while in Angers most of them would have to go away. That standpoint will surely resurface during the weeks to come given the posssible reform of the French regions which could marginalize Angers. That one, currently at the centre of the Pays de la Loire region, could end up near the boundary of a future region what would weaken its political and economical position. For Laurent Gérault, Angers can only rely on the companies already there and on the arrival of others.

Credit Picture : Angers Développement
Regarding the first, the Union des démocrates indépendants' candidate wants to double the economic budget dedicated by Angers Loire Métropole to the private sector what makes necessary, given Mr. Gérault promises he will not rise taxes, to cut resources for other fields.  The tax on private companies will be freezed. The centrist candidate also promises he will stimulate entrepreneurship among young Angevins students and sell a part of the real estate assets of the city to local companies in order to favour their settlement in Angers region. Finally, Laurent Gérault is involved to promote innovation in and around the city through a greater use of numerical technology and the implementation of a priority to local providers in Angers calls for bids.

17 January, 2014

A quadrangular is not unlikely for the Angers second round municipal elections

According to a report dedicated by the French weekly L'Express about the Angers municipal campaign, "For the first time, a quadrangular is predictable for the second round. And the different lists promise that there will be no a merger between the two rounds". The French regulation decides that every list may keep going on the second round after she got 10% of the votes on the first round. In Angers such an hypothesis is likely for Laurent Gérault (Servir Angers), Jean-Luc Rotureau (Autrement) and sure for Frédéric Béatse (Aimer Angers) and Christophe Béchu (Angers Béchu).

So the strategy of each candidates consists in "war takings" before the first round : "the hunt for leading figures is opened", writes the Express. That search in Angers was traditionaly centre oriented. Acccording to the magazine, Mr. Béchu would court Michelle Moreau, former deputy-mayor of the Socialist previous mayor Jean-Claude Antonini. Frédéric Béatse did the same by the recruitment of a law professor, Anthony Taillefait, formerly close to Laurent Gérault the centrist candidate.

But in 2014, writes L'Express, it is not so sure that the elections will be won by the centre. If that looks true for Frédéric Béatse who, in order to offset the rivalvry of Jean-Luc Rotureau, got the support of Europe-Ecologie-Les Verts and the Parti communiste, the other candidates could nervertheless need centrists on their side. Mr. Rotureau convinced serveral little centrist parties to go with him while Christophe Béchu has concluded an alliance with another part of the centre : the Mouvement démocrate (Modem). Those rallyings look to equalize the opportunities of each candidate, but will also exarcerb tensions between them what would make (even if the second round winner will get the majority of the city council seats) more difficult the management of the future Angers assembly.

The decrease of the number of French regions may marginalize Angers

The decrease of the number of regions and the boundary evolutions of administrative territories introduced on January 13th by François Hollande, the France president, could bring some changes for Angers as well as numerous cities. While there are 22 regions in the metropolitan territory, including the Pays de la Loire, so the Maine-et-Loire and Angers, the idea is to keep only 15 of them. Such a decrease may widen some existing regions but it could also contract others and perhaps leads to the disappearance of some, including the Pays de la Loire. So the future of Angers could be changed, something what doesn't let indifferent the four main challengers to Angers mayor office.

On the left, the current mayor, Frédéric Béatse, considers that the priority consists in a clarification of competences between all France administrative levels commonly called the "mille-feuille". If Mr. Béatse doesn't question the management of the Pays de la Loire, he doesn't rule out that "an appropriate size" is something necessary to consider even if "we need to clarify, to simplify some competences, 'who does what?', that would already be an improvement". Jean-Luc Rotureau, his challenger of the left, looks more clear-cut : "The choice in favour of a new region is necessary provided that everything be also reorganized like the departments and the cooperation between cities".

On the right side, Laurent Gérault is also unequivocal : "I am favourable to a merging between regions for administrative efficiency, optimization of expenses and territories' attractiveness on the European scale" adding that he would vote a "merging of Bretagne and Pays de la Loire regions" even if he doesn't deny the risks of an hyper concentration of functions around Nantes [Pays de la Loire capital] and Rennes [Bretagne capital]. That hypothesis has been taken in account by Christophe Béchu who refuses that Angers and Maine-et-Loire be included in a widened Centre region because in those circumstances, "Angers would be located on the rims of that new area" (a danger which nevertheless exists with the merger of Bretagne and Pays de la Loire). Mr. Béchu wonders if the constitution of regions based on the Western France European constituencies (Bretagne, Pays de la Loire and Poitou-Charentes) would not be better for Angers

15 January, 2014

The Angers commercial court observed a deterioration for Angers companies in 2013

Credit Pictures : Angers Développement
The demons-tration of angry and sorrow of the former emplo-yees of Les Ardoisières d'Angers, one of the Angers flag compa-nies, closed last year, which took place on January 15th in Paris is, unfortunately, a part of the "disaster" which descended upon the local economy. Figures were revealed by the president of the Angers commercial court, Hervé Tréhard, who presided on the 14th the starting session of the current year. In Maine et Loire, about 600 companies were unable to pay their expenses in 2013, and among them wages, what affects about 2 000 people.

Inside the Maine-et-Loire, the Angers situation is the worse and Mr. Tréhard spoke of an "explosion" and even of a "disaster". It could be assumed that those figures are the consequences of the Angers Technicolor closure. But, unfortunately, it is not true because that company was registered in Nanterre (Hauts de Seine) and depends on the commercial court of that department. More than 320 procedures have been registered in 2013 versus 260 for the previous year in the Angers area.

Analysed by economic sectors, the court notices that the construction industry is facing difficulties because "too much" residential buildings have been erected and a lot of apartments are neither sold or rented. Regarding the retail stores, the court observes that bakeries, cafes, restaurants and even drugstores have closed with a cortege of joblesses. "The reversal of the unemployment curve heads on the top", says Mr. Tréhard, in allusion to the presidential promise. The economic situation will surely be at the core of the municipal campaign even it the powers of the Angers city council are rather restricted.

14 January, 2014

What a difference a date makes...

The situation of Valérie Trierweiler, the Angers born partner of François Hollande, French president, as first lady, was the starting issue tackled by a news conference this one gave on January 14th at the Elysée palace. Questioned about Mrs. Trierweiler's position as France first lady, Mr. Hollande said he was experiencing a "difficult moment" in his private life after, a few days ago, the gossip Closer magazine published photos about an affair the president had with an actress. After he refused to answer questions about that report, saying "private matters should be dealt in private", the French president announced he would make clear whether Valérie Trierweiler was still first lady before a travel to the United States in February.

In front of hundreds of journalists at the presidentrial palace, the head of state pointed out it was "neither the time nor the place" to answer questions regarding his personal life and that he would not be drawn on the reports of his affair with actress Julie Gayet "out of respect for those involved". Among them, there is of course Mrs. Trierweiler, admitted in hospital last Friday after the "shock" over the revelations, her aides say. Her staff explained that the revelation of the presidential affair had on Mrs Trierweiler the effect of "a collision with a high speed train". The first lady (even if Mrs. Treiweiler and Mr. Hollande are not married) is expected to remain in hospital for a few days.

The topic triggered a debate regarding Mrs. Trierweiler's status as first lady. She has an office in the Elysée Palace with six staff, which is financed by public resources. A split with Mr. Hollande would make her the first "première dame" to be kicked out of the Elysée palace. Because such a person represents France at home and abroad, a Maine-et-Loire deputy, Jean-Charles Taugourdeau, proposed to legiferate about the status of the first lady, "to protect her because the task is difficult" even if, for Mrs Trierweiler, the protection of a law against the trysts of her partner would have been quite inefficient. The first lady may face a difficult choice : whether to go back to the Elysée despite her partner's betrayal (and under possible criticisms from French) or slam the door.

13 January, 2014

Angers, likely collateral victim of a love affair

Valérie Trierweiler
The split between François Hollande, France president, and Valérie Trierweiler, his partner, sounds like a bad news for Angers because that one has her family here. Even if Mrs Trierweiler was not the wife of the French president, even if the "first lady" had no official part but influence, Angers had, through her, a privilegied access to the head of state. After the French president had announced to his partner that he had a love affair with an actress, Julie Gayet, and that he met her in an apartment close to the Elysée palace, Mrs Trierweiler was sent to hospital after the violent emotional schock she received. It is not sure that Valérie Trierweiler will stay at the Elysée and assume the functions of a first lady.

François Hollande
Mrs. Trierweiler, who still has family in Angers, had several times,
came back in her native town to see her relatives, settled in Monplaisir district. On other opportunities, she came for the First shot festival or for the dedication of her book about François Hollande. One year ago for Christmas, the president of French republic, was himself in Angers in his family's partner. According to the world coverage that love affair got, Mr. Hollande saw once again the family of his partner near Paris last year. It is widely said that Mrs. Trierweiler had no idea about the new relationship of Mr. Hollande with Mrs Gayet. Before Mrs Trieweiler, the French president was the partner of Ségolène Royal, of whom he got four children. He had no children with Mrs. Trierweiler.

The book cover of Mrs. Trierweiler's essay about Mr. Hollande
The medical staff which has noticed that Mrs. Trier-weiler's tension was very low after the an-nouncement had ordered a ten days sleep treatment. The future of Valerie Trierweiler with François Hollande looks very uncertain and it seems that the announcement, by Mrs. Trierweiler's staff, of her hospitalization, is more a message sent to Mr. Hollande than French people. According to some reports, Mrs. Trierweiler (herself editor for the French magazine Paris Match) relationship with the Elysée staff failed to win unanimous support. It is not said if the first lady will have rest in Angers.

11 January, 2014

Municipal campaign : the common stance of the challengers

Credit picture : Servir Angers 
During press conferences organized the same day Janueary 9th, the two candidates challenging the leader of their political side, on the left, Jean-Luc Rotureau facing Frédéric Béatse, on the right, Laurent Gérault in front of Christophe Béchu, are focusing their campaigns about the necessity to temper the expenses during the term of the future Angers town council. "We can't promise everything without taking account of financial realities", pointed out Mr. Rotureau who is on the same line with Mr. Gérault who highlighted that "it is compulsory to have consistency between our financial and fiscal capacities and our investment choices, so our actions with our stance". 

Credit picture : Jean-Luc Rotureau
Through that position highly political, the two candidates try to make the Angevins understand that all the projects introduced by their challengers will not be feasible. Among those schemes, there are a new ice skating or a new museum, each of them sometimes part of the platforms of Mr. Béatse or Mr. Béchu. Both Laurent Gérault and Jean-Luc Rotureau have in common the idea that, in time of economic slowdown, it is necessary to lower ambitions. But doing so, they instil the idea that the plaforms of their rivals would not be realistic. And the presence of André Despagnet besides Mr. Rotureau, currrent deputy-mayor in charge of finances, was not a coincidence.

In fact the Angers municipal campaign will, during the first round be divided in two campaigns : one inside the left, the other inside the right. The common strategy of Laurent Gérault and Jean-Luc Rotureau is to get sufficient votes on the first round  in order to influence the platforms of Mr. Béatse and Mr. Béchu in the second run, and their decisions once the polls will be over.