31 March, 2014

The future managers of a "suffering city" waited on the economy and employment fronts

Deux faits économiques sont passés relativement inaperçus dans le tumulte de la campagne électorale : le plan social signé aux Ardoisières d'Angers et les derniers chiffres du chômage. Ces faits et chiffres rappellent aux nouveaux gestionnaires de la ville les attentes de leurs électeurs d'hier... et de demain.

 Two economic news went rather unnoticed the days before the second round of municipal election but will surely will remind the new city council to its existence : the definitive closure of Les Ardoisières d'Angers and the last figures of unemployement in the territory. Regarding the first topic, management and trade-unions of the mining company have signed on March 28th an agreement sealing the end of the extraction of slates. The shut down of the last mine closes a 600 years chapter of the economic history, and even of the history of Angers. There are not mo slates to produce but there is more than 130 hectares of industrial wasteland to invest.

Regarding the last unemployment figures made public in March, they were not better. In January 2014, the number of persons available for a job had grown by 5% compared to Decembre 2013, 5% for a single month. Women, jobless persons for a long period and holders of social miminum revenues were, once again, especially hit by that evolution.

The association of the two news is an explanation of the considerable proportion of abtainers in the popular districts of Angers whose votes defaulted the left candidate Frédéric Béatse when they didn't favoured his opponent, Christophe Béchu. That one, who made reference to a "suffering city" during the campaign, has stressed that economy and employment would be his most ardent duty. The expectations are on a par with the difficulties.The new mayor, who urged it was time to try new ways, can now work on doing that.

The new city council : faces up to the business

Si le changement de majorité ne fera sentir que progressivement ses effets, en revanche, le vote de dimanche se traduit immédiatement par un profond renouvellement du Conseil municipal. Des figures historiques disparaissent, quelques leaders également. En toute logique, les membres de l'ancienne minorité devraient se retrouver aux postes de commandement et Frédéric Béatse laisser son fauteuil de maire à Christophe Béchu. 

If the swing from left to right of the Angers will probably not be visible in the policies of the city council before weeks, and may be months, nevertheless the face of that authority will  largely change next Friday, date of its first session. Given the demographic decline of the town, the numbers of the councillors will be reduced to 55, instead of 59 but, above all, its members will change and some of them were historical faces.

The majority Angers pour vous list will get 43 seats and the minority one Aimer Angers 12. The change will probably be more sensitive for the second one. Very known faces disappear : Jean-Claude Antonini, former Angers mayor and Daniel Raoul (who didn't run), but also André Despagnet, his former deputy-mayor in charge of finances as well as Jean-Luc Rotureau, the left dissident candidate, both of them running for a new term. Other members having competed with Frédéric Béatse leave like Vincent Dulong (in charge of streets), Norma Mel-Pla (public service), Rachel Capron (culture and manager of Mr. Béatse's campaign), Michel Houdbine (sports), Jacques Motteau (commerce) and Beaudoin Aubret (seniors). Frédéric Béatse, Rose-Marie-Véron, Gilles Mahé, Sylvia Camara-Tombini, Luc Belot, Rahmène Azzouzi and Laurent Revault remain, but as simple town councillors. Most of them probably believed in the victory of their list and first its leader, the fomer mayor who, announcing the results on Sunday evening, made a Freudian slip, talking first of "the Aimer Angers pour vous list".

The renewal will above all com from the entrance in town council of the 43 running-mates of Angers pour vous. Its leader, Christophe Béchu, was not member of the previous council (he resigned after his 2008 defeat). Some of them are not new arrivals because there were part of the minority : Michelle Moreau, Roselyne Bienvenu, Emmanuel Capus, Françoise Le Goff,  Ahmed El Bahri, Caroline Fel, Gilles Groussard, Bernard Dupré, Daniel Dimicoli and Catherine Goxe. But for most of them, the Friday session will be a start. Prominent persons of the former minority group go away from the municipal council : Laurent Gérault the centrist candidate and Bernadette Caillard-Humeau.

The new town council will elect his mayor and the deputy mayors on Friday and next week it will get down do business until 2020. The 2014 municipal campaign is by now over.

30 March, 2014

"Angers for you" Christophe Béchu

Le virage à droite de la ville d'Angers s'est matérialisé par la plutôt large victoire de Christophe Béchu contre Frédéric Béatse, maire sortant avec plus de 54% des voix. La division, le niveau de l'abstention mais surtout le mécontentement des Français vis-à-vis de leur gouvernement ont été les principaux facteurs de ce basculement de la ville, gérée par le gauche depuis 1977. Si la victoire n'est pas une surprise, l'écart entre les deux candidats est bien plus important que prévu.

Christophe Béchu is the new Angers mayor. His list Angers pour vous gathered 54,36% of the votes, a quite important margin face to his challenger Frédéric Béatse, the outgoing mayor. That municipal swing of Angers, from left to right, has also been characterized by an important proportion of abstainers, more than 42%, by a division of the left side and above all by an economic situation highly unfavourable to the left government which is also an explanation of the defeat of the left , in charge of Angers since 1977.

"The electors are clearly disappointed. But the explanations are not local", said the previous Angers mayor, Jean-Claude Antonini. But Mr Antonini also blamed Jean-Luc Rotureau for his critics of the letter Mr. Béatse sent to the abstainers in order to warn them about the dangers of a Christophe Béchu's election. But, according to many analysts, "the dissatisfaction of French people for the current government explains the important margin between the two candidates". That huge level of abstainers would have been serisouly hampered Mr. Béatse in popular districts generally favourable to the left.

"I am proud but also grave", said Christophe Béchu who assured economy and unemployment would be his top priority : "to implement our promises is our absolute duty". One of his running mates pointed out that the difference between the two candidates was "a happy surprise" but the candidate stressed that such a margin also expressed "important expectations" and "a personal responsability".The economical issues will be "the first on which we will work". Angers was particularly monitored by political headquarters as well as national medias. Several surrounding cities of Angers, members of the agglomeration, moved from left to right.

This election was surrounded by an increase of the proportion of Angers abstainers. That one was, at 6 pm, of 42,46 %, a little decrease compared to the first round (47.42)% *. Nevertheless, that level is soaring in comparison with the percentage of abstainers for  the second round of the 2008 elections : 34.04%.

* the definitive abstention rate is 38,65%

29 March, 2014

The former Angers born partner of the French president moves from an affair to a business

La ville d'Angers pourrait à nouveau faire parler d'elle dans quelques mois à la faveur d'un livre que l'ex-première dame de France pourrait écrire. Valérie Trierweiler a en effet été sollicitée par l'éditeur Albin Michel pour raconter sa vie à l'Elysée et les conditions dans lesquelles celle-ci a pris fin. La maison d'édition espère qu'elle réalisera des ventes massives en quelques heures.

Angers could be one of the backgrounds of a book dedicated to the presidency of François Hollande through the eyes of his former companion, Valérie Trierweiler. According to the daily Le Figaro, that one has met a weeks ago the publisher Albin Michel who suggested to Mrs Trierweiler to tell what has been her staying at the Elysée palace as, for about one year and a half, "First lady". According to the daily, the publisher, Mrs Trieweiler would earn about € 100 000.

One of the most important questions set by the project is the ability or the will of Valérie Trierweiler to describe her split with the French president."Is she ready to talk about the mediatic scandal?" triggered by the disclosure of François Hollande affair with the actress Julie Gayet?  "Is she ready to talk about her last moments of her common life" with the head of the French state? The content of the book could change the amount of money her author would get.

But for Albin Michel, the selling policy would not be the same. The description of the shock Mrs Trierweiler has suffered would led the publisher to organize a huge promotion about the book and to sell "hundreds of thousands of copies within a few hours" in order to avoid all "industrial venture". It is not said if the former partner of François Hollande will dedicate a lot of pages to Angers and to her vision of the city.

Will the work get a success in Mrs Trierweiler native city where she came back several times alone, and at least one time with her (former) companion in her family home in the Monplaisir District? It depends maybe of the outcome of the municipal elections because one do not share a common life with a president without sharing a bit of his political opinions.

28 March, 2014

The abstainers for the vote have sent a message to the abstainers for the reform on vote

L'abstention a été la principale caractéristique du 1er tour des élections municipales d'Angers. Aucun candidat n'a réalisé un score équivalent à celui des abstentionnistes. S'il est de bon ton de railler ces derniers, il pourrait être plus utile de s'interroger sur les raisons de ce phénomène. Dans une ville telle qu'Angers, où les moins de 30 ans  représentent près de la moitié des habitants, elles peuvent être liées au décalage technologique entre les outils de communication d'aujourd'hui et les modes de votation... d'hier.

As in many other cities, Angers represen-tatives, both from left and right, are plagued by the numbers of the abstainers for the first round of the municipal elections. Their proportion, 40.77%, is more important than the score of the winner of the first round, Christophe Béchu, with 35.91% and is, compared to the level of the first round of the 2008 polls (41.03%), pretty much the same. Meanwhile, in spite of a possible swing of Angers city from left to right, the proportion of Angers abstainers is well above the national level : 36.45%.

Angers is a rather young city. In 2010, nearly half of the
population (48%) was less than 30 years old and about 30 000 of its inhabitants (all of them are not setlled in Angers) are students, i.e. 20%. All these persons are so born at the internet age, have computers, are used to buy travels, billets, or rent apartments through the net. And, major contradiction in the contemporary period, they have more knowledges about the web than their parents while, for ages, children learnt from their parents.

But the regulations applicable to the polls rule out every options to remote voting, from his home, his place of
weekends or holidays through smartphone, personal computer or even cash dispensers. Every citizen, or every person having a mandate for vote in the name of another one, has to be on the place where he or she is registered. It is possible that such a constraint be unacceptable by persons who, with their mobile phone, do a lot of financial operations as personal and important for them as elections. So the current options of vote could be considered by them as rather archaïc. The abstainers of the reform about voting should think about it.

Christophe Béchu leads the "trial pursuit" of the outgoing city council majority

Pour son dernier meeting, Christophe Béchu s'est employé à mobiliser ses troupes et bien au-delà d'elles en vue du second tour de l'élection municipale. Le candidat s'est moins attardé sur les changements que son élection entraînerait que sur le déroulement de cette campagne électorale ce qui lui a permis de concentrer ses critiques sur son adversaire, le maire sortant, Frédéric Béatse et de ménager ses effets pour un petit coup de théâtre. 

For his last public meeting before the second round of municipal elections, Christophe Béchu, candidate to Angers mayor office, gave it all he had in front of more than one thousand supporters who were pending for that last rallying. "We are parting of the ways" said the candidate who, with some Nicolas Sarkozy's emphasis, reminded to the Angers inhabitants "We need you". Refering to a born Angers philosopher, Mr. Béchu reminded that "There are no other wealth but men" he wants "to mobilize for change" because, during the 200 days of campaign "a human reality became obvious : the city needs change because it is suffering. If those who are in charge say they tried everything but failed, it's time to try with others", he sent out to a delighted audience.

After he made notice that he would speak with only a few notes, Christophe Béchu reminded the best memories some of the ordinary people he met during that campaign gave him and promised his term would be dedicated to Angers inhabitants are in need. "We have to reinvest the everyday life instead of anticipating the 30 next years with computer generated imagery" and consider "the warning signal André Despagnet [the former Frédéric Béatse's deputy mayor in charge of finances] sent about the budget". That reference, and above all tributes Mr. Béchu paid to his former rivals, the centrist Laurent Gérault and the left candidate Jean-Luc Rotureau, indicated that he considers the victory will rely on the supporters of those. The first "was clear on the change he demanded : the priority for employment, economy and truth about the city finances", pointed out Mr. Béchu who also praised the "courage" of the other and the fact he shares with him "some important points of agreement".

The adress of Christophe Béchu focused on the platform of the outgoing mayor. Regarding public safety, "We are in the denial", said Mr. Béchu who suggested he will increase the number of video surveillance cameras if elected and enlarge the schedules of the municipal police. "The projects [of his rival] are side by side without connection between them", blamed the speaker who plans "to make the second tramway line go through Angers down town which is suffering". But the candidate above all accused the last municipal manjority to have implemented "a fictional interactive democracy : the inhabitants express themselves when everything has already be decided".

The conservative candidate also criticized the changes his adversary included in his programme after the first round "to gather votes. The problem is those changes are about topics he fiercely stood for" (the free access to buses and tramway one weekend per month, the decrease of the investment budget). But Christophe Béchu kept for the end of his speech the most serious critic against his adversary through the letter that one had sent to the abstainers. "That letter [in which it is said that the conservative candidate would cut social expenses] is pathetic". By way of a dramatic turn of events, Mr. Béchu set then off a mail from Jean-Luc Rotureau in which that one solemnly disapproved the letter Mr. Béatse signed to the abstainers.

Those, who summed up almost 41% of the registered voters on the first round, are likely the main key to the "historical" swing of Angers Christophe Béchu is looking for.

27 March, 2014

Political debate becomes argument as and when the second round of Angers municipal elections is close

Au fur et à mesure que le vote qui départagera Frédéric Béatse et Christope Béchu se rapproche le débat d'entre deux tours entre eux prend... un tour plus âpre. Le deuxième "duel" entre les deux candidats a été l'occasion de petites phrases assassines destinées à faire vasciller l'adversaire. Chacun vise à asseoir la pertinence de ses propres propositions à travers la critique de celles de l'autre. 

After a first face to face, already tougher between the two finalists of the Angers municipal elections, Frédéric Béatse and Christophe Béchu, compared to their previous meetings with the other candidates, the second debate which took place on March 27th was even more straightforward. As we go along the second round, the two men have had an argument rather than a talk. And numerous cutting remarks aimed at perturbing the adversary were sent from both sides as if the public was already overinformed about the content of their proposals. 

The main infra-struc-tures, like the second line of the tramway and urbanism, were topics of fierce, and sometime personal, critics. Regarding the tramway, Frédéric Béatse dismissed the authority of Christophe Béchu to express an idea: "The Angers inhabitants must not trust Christophe Béchu's opinions. Six years ago, he assured that the tramway would not climb the Roë street". After he was criticized for his "skimpy vision" about the railway station, Christophe Béchu refered to the outgoing mayor saying "Given you have concreted and mineralized the Ralliement square, you have a diploma of the 70's architecture".

The finances were also matter of arguments between the two candidates. The president of the Maine-et-Loire Conseil général dismissed Frédéric Béatse's critics about his management of the departement authority, pointing out that "the debt of his institution was per inhabitant of 500 euros while the one of Angers city and Angers agglomeration is 1 500 euros". "Angers is at the top of the rankings between cities, it is not the case of the department", said the mayor. 

The end of the previous debate having been focused on the letter Mr. Béatse sent to the abstainers, his challenger accused him "to create fears while a mayor is there to reassure" what led the outgoing mayor to refer to the leaflet "Angers danger" the opposition published last year and which was "a total caricature". Reacting to the blame of Mr. Bechu regarding the dirtiness of Angers, Mr. Béatse wandered if his adversary and himself would not live in the same town and, knowing that this one lives in Avrillé, said : "I think it's true by the way".

26 March, 2014

Frédéric Béatse and Christophe Béchu from side by side to face to face

Le face-à-face entre Frédéric Béatse et Christophe Béchu a eu, le 26 mars, une toute autre tonalité que celle de leurs interventions précédentes. Les situations des deux candidats, l'un maire sortant, l'autre aspirant maire, expliquent des positionnements différents : Frédéric Béatse misant sur la technicité des projets en cours, Christophe Béchu sur sa volonté de changer le cours des choses. 

After invitations to speak alone, than debates side by side with the other seven candidates, Frédéric Béatse and Christophe Béchu were face to face in a frontal talk which took place on the local tv channel on March 26th. So the tune was rather different compared to the previous electoral meetings. Because Mr. Béatse was in office for the last two years as Angers mayor, because Mr. Béchu was out of the city council from 2008, their standpoints were very different. Frédéric Béatse was rather on a management position with figures, files, schemes while Christophe Béchu was more on a political approach, insisting that "a democratic breathe" is necessary to give the city a new rythm.

Their respective analyses about the tramway was symptomatic of that. For Mr. Béatse, it is impossible to believe that a new route may be deviced because of technical reasons (the time for studies, some of the points already set) while his opponent remarks that the impossibility to change the process "would not be democratic". But, retorted the outgoing mayor "How can we consider the seriousness of your project for the second line after you have changed its route? This is not realistic". The Banks of Maine scheme, even if the two representatives agree about its principle, is an issue of split between them. The Angers outgoing mayor, pointed out that Christophe Béchu's idea to bury the speedway between the Molière square and the castle was "typical of the 70's. Your change is in fact a regress". Mr. Béchu, on a voluntarist register, promised he will, if elected, "use a smaller sail for the boat in order to suppress what is useless".

Those positions between the current mayor and the candidate were also different in the vision of their own future in case of defeat. Mr. Béchu indicated that he "would not sit in the city council" if he were not elected mayor while his adversary answered he "would continue to serve" the city. In case of a promotion to a government office, Christophe Béchu disclosed he "would not take it and stay mayor for six years long". If he said he would leave the Conseil général once elected, he didn't talk about his fate as senator (an office he would be due to leave as member of the government but not as mayor). Frédéric Béatse said he "would answer no to such a proposal and want to dedicate to his office, leaving [his] seat at the Conseil régional".

The conclusion of the show was the most intense when Christophe Béchu attacked his vis-à-vis about a letter that one sent the day before to the abstainers. In that letter, the outgoing mayor warned that "A victory of the right list led by Christophe Béchu would have tough consequences on your daily life. The solidarity and social cohesion would not have meaning anymore". "This is slanderous. How could you sign this letter?", he asked to Frédéric Béatse who considered the content of the letter as "perfectly well-founded".

Frédéric Béatse wants to gather beyond his side and adjusts his programme

Le candidat socialiste à la mairie d'Angers a tenu le 25 mars son meeting d'entre deux tours des élections municipales. Frédéric Béatse s'est employé à rassembler les électeurs de gauche, dont ceux favorables à son ancien rival Jean-Luc Rotureau, dont il a salué le désistement, et même celles du centriste Laurent Gérault. Pour conserver ses chances de victoire, qui peut se jouer à quelques dizaines de voix, M. Béatse a fait quelques ajustements dans son programme et réaffirmé sa volonté d'être un maire à plein temps.

About one thousand people joined Frédéric Béatse, candidate for a new term as Angers mayor, to the meeting he run on March 25th in the Greniers Saint-Jean. If the outgoing mayor dismissed the project of his adversary for the second round of municipal elections, Christophe Béchu, he also took care to gather beyond his own supporters : those of Jean-Luc Rotureau and even those of Laurent Gérault. "Yes there were divisions on the left, but they are now behind us. Jean-Luc Rotureau and me add up 43% of the votes and his withdrawal opens for us the door of the victory", said Mr. Béatse. The current mayor neverthless made clear that such an outcome will be close "to some dozens of votes" so he urged each of his supporters to convince ten persons. "You have an historical responsability", he stressed.

That one also announced that some of the proposals of Laurent Gérault, the centrist candidate, will be included in his policy en case of reelection. "We must listen to what has been said during the first round", promised Mr. Béatse who refered to the purchasing power of Angers inhabitants and the budget of the city. On several points he also made clear that his initial platform should be adjusted. The investments budget will be lowered to € 52 millions (instead of 55 millions) "in order to rule out taxes increases and heaviness of the debt". The outgoing mayor also considered that "the idea of free transports during the weekends one time per month had to be experienced". He also made clear that he totally agreed with the ethical conduct put forward by the centrist candidate, unable to compete for the second round.

A large part of Frédéric Béatse' speech was dedicated to three of his most important projects for the city what led him to criticize the programme and the political ambitions of his adversary. The Angers new banks scheme "has nothing pharaonic" (what was said by Christophe Béchu), pointed out Mr. Béatse who detailed that "it would cost between 5 and 6 millions euros per year" but must be considered as "an investment allowing a better identification of the Angers territory" in opposition with "the concreting of the Maine", his rival is said to implement. Frédéric Béatse also mentioned the Gare + project which will be "the entrance hall of Angers city from Nantes and Paris. So all the tramway routes must to be connected with the railway station" something Christophe Béchu wants precisely to avoid. About the tramway, the outgoing mayor dismissed the project of his rival : "A tramway isn't a toy : a route one day and another one after because of some complains. Be serious", he sent.

The socialist candidate finally compared his political behaviour to those of his adversary. "I will be a full time mayor and a full time president of Angers agglomeration. I will not be candidate to any other office during the term" promised Frédéric Béatse who implicitely made a reference to the several candidacies of Mr. Béchu otherwise Maine-et-Loire senator and who is said to consider the Angers mayor office as only "a trophy". [Credit pictures : aimer Angers]

25 March, 2014

A busy week for the finalists of Angers municipal election

La semaine de l'entre-deux tours sera pleinement exploitée par les deux candidats en lice, Frédéric Béatse et Christophe Béchu. Le premier entend tirer parti du ralliement officieux de Jean-Luc Rotureau, le candidat dissident de la gauche dont les votes, additionnés au sien, donnent à celle-ci la tête du 1er tour. Christophe Béchu entend au contraire accélérer la dynamique qui l'a placé en tête des candidats au premier tour. Chaque finaliste tiendra un meeting et deux face-à-face télévisés sont programmés. 

The two finalists of the second round in Angers municipal elections, Frédéric Béatse and Christophe Béchu, have filed their list in the Maine et Loire prefecture. That formality is not for sure the most difficult of the pending tasks of the week. More than ever, they are focused on the last rallying. For the outgoing mayor and his running mates, the week will be dedicated to "the big challenge of the second round". A meeting is planned on March 25th at 8 pm in the Greniers Saint-Jean : "We rely on you [that day] and for the last days of the campaign", says Mr. Béatse. His challenger will himself speak in a rally two days later at the congress centre. "The campaign is going on in the field with all the running mates and supporters of Angers pour vous", writes Christophe Béchu.

The adversaries will also have opportunities to debate about their programmes. A first face to face will take place on March 26th at 3 pm broadcasted live from Le Chabada. And a second one is set the following day at 3.30 pm from the forum of the Angers theatre Le quai. The show will be broadcasted in pre-recorded that day at 11.10 pm. Mr Béchu should probably point out the dynamique of the first round which gave him about 36% of the votes and emphasize the "historically low score of the outgoing mayor" a result which expresses "a will for change". Frédéric Béatse should in return recall all the distinctions his management of his city received from national observers and the fact that after the previous round in Angers, through his score (26,77%) and the one of Jean-Luc Rotureau (16,21%), the left has the majority (42,98%).

None of the candidate will, officially, get the votes of the Front national supporters whose leader, Gaétan Dirand, criticized Mr. Béchu for his refusal to talk with him and urge the sympathizers of his party not to vote for Mr. Béatse. And according to some twits sent by Laurent Gérault on March 25th, "the machine to lose" is, for the right, engaged in Angers.

24 March, 2014

Jean-Luc Rotureau's withdrawal and Laurent Gérault 'suspens make the second round unpredictable

La campagne en vue du second tour des élections municipales vient de prendre un nouveau tour avec la décision de Jean-Luc Rotureau, divers gauche, de ne pas se maintenir. M. Rotureau, qui n'a pas donné de consignes de vote, a cependant relevé que le programme de Frédéric Béatse était le plus proche du sien. Le centriste Laurent Gérault n'a pas appelé à voter Christophe Béchu, le vainqueur du 23 mars, hostile à toute alliance entre les deux tours, et a laissé 24 heures au maire sortant avant de se prononcer. Les deux candidats devront surtout convaincre les 40,77% d'abstentionnistes. Ce n'est pas gagné. 

Christophe Béchu
The decisions of the two outsiders of the Angers municipal elections, Jean-Luc Rotureau and Laurent Gérault, were made public on the next day after the first round. They confirm that the result of the polls is not yet settled. The leader of the first round, the conservative Christophe Béchu, who got 35,91%, either with 9,14% more than Frédéric Béatse, socialist candidate and outgoing mayor, could not have no many stocks of votes, except maybe among the abstainers. But these are rather numerous on the left side. For Frédéric Béatse, the result of the first round, 26,77%, is far from to be excellent but he could get additional voices from his former challenger Jean-Luc Rotureau and maybe from the centrist candidate, Laurent Gérault, let alone the abstainers.

Frédéric Béatse
At eleven am, Jean-Luc Rotureau, the left challenger of the outgoing mayor, Frédéric Béatse, announced his decision to give up. The candidate, who got 16,21% of the votes and was so able to keep going on for the second round, didn't expressly call his supporters to join Frédéric Béatse : "The electors will know to choose which candidate is best for them. Their votes are not our property" pointing out that "The programme of Frédéric Béatse is closer to our expectations than the platform of Christophe Béchu". Those words are less than an instruction but more than an information. The socialist candidate directly answered saying "I want to thank Jean-Luc Rotureau for his position. [His] project is the legagy of a very positive track record and of proposals we agree with, and on which I hope we can work together". Will the message be heard by the 16,20%?

Jean-Luc Rotureau
At six pm, it was Laurent Gérault's turn to express his standpoint. Mr. Gérault, who got 7,44% on the first round, and was so unable to keep going on for the next one,  didn't call his electors to vote for Christophe Béchu whose some of the running-mates were nevertheless for years members, as himself, of the minority in the outgoing city council. "I gave a call to Christophe Béchu as well as Frédéric Béatse's entourage to explain the policy of our list. Christophe Béchu remains on his line [no merger of the lists between the first and the second round]*. I think the answer of Frédéric Béatse will be the same. I am waiting 24 hours and if nothing happens, I will call my electors to vote according to their good conscience", letting so the door open.

Laurent Gérault
One of the key of the second round will be the abstainers who count for 40,77% of the registered voters. But such a level may indicate that the motivation of those people is clearly political and has nothing to see with indifference. The two remaining candidates will attempt to attract supplementary forces during a debate planned on March 27th. The final result could be very close.

* Editor's note

Things stay open for the second round of Angers municipal elections

Lors du 1er tour des élections municipales le candidat de l'opposition, Christophe Béchu l'a emporté avec 35,9% des voix, soit 9% de plus que le maire sortant. Pour autant, les choses restent très ouvertes pour le second tour en fonction des possibilités d'alliance dont chacun des deux premiers classés ont besoin. En effet, Jean-Luc Rotureau, avec 15% des voix, devient un allié indispensable pour Frédéric Béatse et Laurent Gérault, dont la marginalisation semblait acquise avec 2% des voix fait presque quatre fois plus. 

The first results of the Angers municipal elections saw the conservative candidate, Christophe Béchu ahead with 35,9% followed by the outgoing mayor, Frédéric Béatse with 26,8%. Their challengers, Jean-Luc Rotureau, on left, got 16,2% and the centrist Laurent Gérault, 7,4% while the far right candidate, Gaétan Dirand recorded 6,7%. For the two main candidates, the results look a little bit disappointing. Mr. Béchu hoped to reach 40% while the score of Mr. Béatse is behind his rival by around 10%.

But nevertheless the game remains open for the next round. On one side, the opportunities could look more favourable for Christophe Béchu for the second round rather than for Frédéric Béatse whose fate depends on a worse transfer of votes. The left side arrived deeply splitted for the 2014 and it is not sure Jean-Luc Rotureau's supporters will join the outgoing mayor. But the prospects of union between Christophe Béchu and Laurent Gérault, let alone Gaétan Dirand, are also rather weak. The first categorically refused to change his list between the two rounds.The first round was rather a good surprise for Mr. Gérault but also for Nathalie Sevaux who got 3,5% while she was totally unknown a few month ago.

The most important key for the second round is Jean-Luc Rotureau's décision to keep going or to give up. That division can't go on" between Mr. Béatse and Mr. Rotureau, urged Jean-Claude Antonini, "Nothing is insurmountable". Frédéric Béatse is aware of that point out that with Mr. Rotureau, "We have to see how we can go forward and examine points of projects". But the decision of Laurent Gérault, given his good score, will also be important. "I don't have any contact with anyone but the duty of a mayor is to gather" what implicitely let opened all prospects towards Mr. Béchu but also towards Mr. Béatse. "All will depend on their ability to gather, their ethic and their proposals". The decision will be made up on March 24th at midday.

The level of the turnout was a first indication of the interest of Angevins for the ballots because the city was considered as the place of a possible swing from left, in office since 1977, towards right which missed the victory by a very narrow margin in 2008. At 6 pm, more than 57,49% of Angers electors had voted. The figure is nevertheless in retreat by 1,48% compared to the previous municipal elections in 2008 (58,97%). The mood of the 2014 campaign was different because of the consequences on Angers resources of the general economic crisis of 2008 what led several candidates to restrain the city expenses and debt.

22 March, 2014

Gare + starts to emerge

Le quartier Gare + commence à sortir de terre. Après un parking, c'est maintenant un premier immeuble de bureaux dont la construction va commencer dans les semaines à venir. Elle est la première d'un ensemble immobilier comprenant quatre unités, dont un hôtel, dénommé Quatuor 3. Mais celui-ci ne sera que l'un des éléments de ce nouveau quartier d'affaires sur lequel Angers fonde beaucoup d'espoirs, et notamment sur le plan de l'emploi.

The new Angers district Gare + springs up. After a new parking lot Saint-Laud 2, an office building "Linéo" and a small apartment building "Versant Sud", a new construction will emerge from the soil from the second trimester of 2014. That one, the first of a series of three, is part of the programme Quatuor 3 and will shelter offices on a surface of 5 000 square meters. The entrances, the bases and the parking lots of those buildings will be ultimately concealed under a vegetable cover.

The works have been awarded to the Giboire Group which is due to go on with the construction of three other buildings and, among them, a three stars hotel of 100 rooms. As a whole, Quatuor 3 will host 20 000 square meters of offices. But it is only a part of Gare + which will total 70 000 square meters and, Angers city hopes it, 2 500 or 3 000 jobs. The field for the Giboire project has been sold on March 20 by Angers city and Angers Agglomération.

For the Angers authorities, Gare + is designed as an asset in "the competition between territories" in which "the capacity to be distinguishable and to seduce is primordial". The new district is accessible from Paris after a 90 mn railway route. So, the Angers representatives have interest to lobby in favour of the construction of a entirely high speed route between Paris and Angers which would shorten the time of the travel and would enhance the attractiveness of the city.

21 March, 2014

The Angers municipal elections in Le Monde

Les élections municipales d'Angers ont été récemment l'objet de deux couvertures du quotidien national Le Monde les 19 et 20 mars. La ville est considérée comme l'une de celles où le pouvoir pourrait changer de camp. Les deux articles montrent qu'en dépit de ce qui est dit par nombre d'électeurs les considérations nationales influenceront leur décision. Ils confirment également que l'enjeu n'est pas que politique. Après la disparition successive de Technicolor et des Ardoisières d'Angers, nombre d'électeurs pensent que l'emploi doit gagner.

Angers has recently been on the sunlights of the daily newspaper, Le Monde, a reference in the French medias landscape. Two articles,one about the end of the slate mining in Trélazé, an Angers neighbouring city, another about the attitude of three young inhabitants a fews days before the municipal elections, depict a city through the vision of a national observer.

The city looks to face, with the closure of Les Ardoisières d'Angers, one of the oldest companies of the region, bad economic conditions given, one year before reminds Le Monde, another flag company, Technicolor, also disappeared. The end of Les Ardoisières, on November 2013, "has been widely
denounced", writes the newspaper, what implicitely suggests that Angers representatives were rather powerless. The title also points out that in Angers the disappointment caused by the policies of the right then left governments is something which will be included in the decision making of the voters. Moreover, with a local unemployment rate above the national level, the main worry of former Ardoisières employees is not the color of the future Angers town council but their prospects to find a new job.

Twenty four hours later, Le Monde dedicated a second coverage to Angers through interviewes of three young inhabitants. After the daily points out Angers is one of the fifty towns where the power could pass from left to right, the coverage shows that "change in power is necessary" even if the persons have no critics against the current majority and the outgoing mayor but "the city needs alternating after a forty years period on the same model", say two of the three witnesses. There also, the national context is important in the thoughts of voters even if, at the same time, the questioned persons consider it is necessary to go beyond the split between left and right.

20 March, 2014

The four main candidates in their corner before the first round of municipal elections

Le dernier débat entre les quatre principaux candidats aux élections municipales s'est fait plus virulent à l'intérieur de chaque camp, à savoir entre Laurent Gérault et Christophe Béchu d'une part, et entre Jean-Luc Rotureau et Frédéric Béatse d'autre part, comme si les challengers voulaient défier les favoris. Au-delà de la virulence des attaques, il apparaît que les futurs élus de la ville devront se concentrer sur l'essentiel car les ressources de celle-ci ne permettront pas de faire autrement.

Frédéric Béatse
The second of the two debates organized by Angers medias made appear some convergence between programmes but also some deep divisions between candidates and especially those who are on the same side. That was more visible than afte the first debate, even if, during the largest part of the 120 minutes meeting which took place on March 19th, each of the nine candidates stayed in his or her own lane. The toughest remarks were exchanged between Jean-Luc Rotureau and Frédéric Béatse and between Laurent Gérault and Christophe Béchu, a phenomena which suggests that splits will be very difficult, if not impossible, to overcome.

Christophe Béchu
The first part of the event, dedicated to the resources of Angers city, was an opportunity for Jean-Luc Rotureau to point out the "worrying situation" of the municipal finances. After that one said that the debt would raise from € 53 millions in  2014 to 120 millions in 2016, the outgoing mayor, Frédéric Béatse, replied that he was "aghast with those incredible attacks" from his former deputy-mayor and assured things will be under control. While the investments of the town will sum up to € 75 millions in 2014, the figure will be lowered to 55 millions during the next term. But things were no more kinder on the right.

After Christophe Béchu, once again blamed for the finances managment of the Conseil général de Maine-et-Loire, promised he will not raise taxes and reminded some of Laurent Gérault's proposals (the lenghtening of the tramway first line and free transports on weekends), that one said that his rival's promises (a new bridge and a new museum) were only a "catalog" as a "politician way to do policy" and warned that those schemes will lead to new taxes. "Noboby will believe you when you say you will not raise taxes", claimed Laurent Gérault to Christophe Béchu.

Laurent Gérault
Regarding the housing, things were a little bit more consensual, on the right and left sides. Christophe Béchu is alarmed by the number of empty apartments in Angers (around 4 000) and by the over-density of the new real-estate operations, something which led Frédéric Béatse to consider that his conservative challenger "didn't know his files". But, it looks clear that, in the years to come, the policy of Angers city will be reoriented towards individual models rather than towars collective programmes and to a lower activity of the real-estate sector.

Jean-Luc Rotureau
A direct confrontation took place about the allocations of Angers associations between Frédéric Béatse and Christophe Béchu, the last one blaming the first for a "lack of transparency" of the allocations policy. In return, the first reminded that this policy was in fact worked out with the associations and accused Christophe Béchu of "intellectual dishonesty".

Jean-Luc Rotureau was, one more time questioned about his behaviour after the first round. After that one assured that "he will be part of the second round", given the likelihood of the score above 10% he will reach, the left candidate said "he will make up his mind" about a withdrawal or an upholding on the evening of Mach 23rd, and "not before".

17 March, 2014

A violent charge on financial issues against the outgoing majority augures of irreversible political consequences on the left

André Despagnet, ancien maire-adjoint au finances d'Angers et principal soutien de Jean-Luc Rotureau dans la campagne des municipales s'est livré à une violente attaque contre le maire actuel, Frédéric Béatse, et son prédécesseur, Jean-Claude Antonini. M. Despagnet concentre ses critiques contre le montant des investissements de la ville. Au-delà de ses aspects financiers, stratégiques, dans les années à venir, ce "J'accuse" pourrait avoir des conséquences politiques irréversibles au sein de la gauche angevine actuelle.

Everything goes wrong in the Angers left. A violent charge against Frédéric Béatse, outgoing mayor and candidate to a new term, has been launched by André Despagnet, his former deputy-mayor entrusted with finances, and now one of the first running mates of Jean-Luc Rotureau, Mr. Béatse's challenger. "I Accuse Jean-Claude Antonini [previous mayor] and Frédéric Béatse of not having respect for the taxpayer's money", said Mr. Despagnet on a video published on his leader website. The former manager of the municipal finances focuses his critics on the investments of the city he thinks they will have to be under firm control in the years to come. "How will you finance them?" asks André Despagnet, visibly angry by the development of those issues for the 4 to 5 years.

The former deputy-mayor in charge of finances deplore the construction of the aqualudic centre, AquaVita, simply because "We did'nt have the means to finance it". Refering to the figures of investments, € 69 millions in the 2014 budget he didn't vote, the former deputy-mayor warns that "they are too high" and that they could lead the Angers decision makers to increase taxes. André Despagnet even dramatizes the case : "Angers will be tomorow the city where taxes and debt are the highest".

The financial field is an important stake in Jean-Luc Rotureau's platform. The candidate demanded a public debate be organized on the municipal resources between candidates. "It is the debt reduction which allows us to have ambition for Angers. Not the opposite", writes Mr. Rotureau in his proposals. From a political standpoint, these fierce attacks inside the current left majority do not augur favourably of a better understanding between him and Mr. Béatse's supporters after the first round. A split appears now as irreversible.

14 March, 2014

Angers more attracted by "sex" than "elections"

Si Angers se distingue dans nombre de hit-parades nationaux en termes de qualité de vie, d'espaces verts ou de gestion, un autre classement place fait valoir qu'à Angers, les internautes angevins ne sont pas, si l'on en croit leurs requêtes sur le net, si prudes qu'ils en ont l'air. Selon d'autres analyses de ces mêmes requêtes internet, leur intérêt pour le Sco supplante de très loin celui pour les municipales où tous les candidats sont battus par Pharell Williams. 

According to surveys about what are the words most searched by Angevins internet users, it seems that "sex" is more attractive issue than elections. Thanks to the Google Trends tool, the Ne rien louper website recently ranked the French cities where requests containing the word "sex" were the most frequent. In 2013, the French cities where "sex" was looked for (on the web) were, most of them, located in the Western part of France and Angers is the 7th.

There is nothing similar with the electoral issue. Another survey, always carried out with Google Trends along 2013, demonstrates that the interest of Angers inhabitants for the municipal elections was much less important than their passion for Angers Sco. The Google Trends analyse shows that, last year, the electoral event had not caused wide interest in comparison with the attention Angers interner users saved for their soccer club currently qualified in the quater-finals of the France cup. Another lesson coming from Google Trends is Christophe Béchu' activities are more followed by Pays de la Loire internet users than those of Frédéric Béatse and Jean-Luc Rotureau.

But all of them are largely overtaken by the lip dub of Pharell Williams "Happy Angers" which could reach about 700 000 views. In order to get audience, Angers candidates know what to do...

13 March, 2014

The Front national shows off its programme and aims 10% for the first round

S'il était le premier à déposer sa liste de candidats aux élections municipales d'Angers, le Front national a été le dernier à présenter son programme. Son leader, Gaétan Dirand, prend acte de la crise, avec des économies de fonctionnement, des abandons ou reports d'infrastructures, mais reconnait les possibilités limitées d'un maire pour agir. Le Front national qui vise 10% des voix et une représentation au sein du futur conseil municipal, est crédité de 6 à 7% des voix dans les sondages.

Gaétan Dirand
If the Front national was the first to file its list of candidates for Angers city council in the Maine-et-Loire prefecture, it was the last to unveil his programme. In that one, the leader of the Fn in the department, Gaétan Dirand, duly records the economic crisis the city is experiencing and cancels, or at least postpones, a series of projects. The two main schemes, common to most of platforms in competition, the reconquest of the Maine banks and the second line of the tramway, are concerned. Mr. Dirand and his running-mates consider the first as something "pharaonic" it is necessary to give up "purely and solely". And regarding the tramway, having taken note of the difficulties the first line created for store owners, the Front national candidate sets two conditions : a financial survey about the capacity of the town to finance it and a local referendum.

Credit pictures Front national
The city finances and the economy are others fields in which the Front national, if elected, promises changes. Gaétan Dirands wants savings : communication expenses, energy costs and, among those the public lighting. The allocation of financial grant to associations will depend of their "public usefulness", a criteria it is not known how it will be appreciated. In the economic field, Mr. Dirand, who recognizes that a mayor is far from having the means to act, plans nevertheless to take measures in three directions : training, business creations and support to the existing companies through facilities and investments. The Front national candidate wants local companies have priority in municipal adjudications. Last but no least, the safety leads Mr. Dirand to extend the schedules of the local police to "one or two o'clock in the morning" until four during the weekends.

The Front national aims to get at least 10% of the votes of the first round and, doing so, to sit in the future city council. Mr. Dirand didn't disclose if his list would going on for the second round. but the last opinion polls foresee about 6% (France 3-Ipsos) or 7% (Tns-Sofres) for the Front national candidates.

12 March, 2014

Jean-Luc Rotureau reconsiders his withdrawal, if ranked in third position after the first round

Après avoir indiqué qu'il se retirerait de la course à la mairie d'Angers s'il arrivait au terme du 1er tour en troisième position, Jean-Luc Rotureau fait marche arrière. Il n'est en effet pas très loin de l'objectif des 20% des voix qu'il s'était fixé puisque les sondages d'opinion le créditent de 17%, une situation qu'il sera, si elle est confirmée, "hors de question d'ignorer". 

Jean-Luc Rotureau would be changing his mind regarding his withdrawal in case of a third rank after the first round of municipal elections. If he made clear, before the release of the first opinion polls in February, that he would give up in case of a lower score compared to Frédéric Béatse, he recently back-pedaled. According to the news magazine L'Express, the left dissident candidate would regret his pormptness, what was already visible a few weeks ago (see "Jean-Luc Rotureau lingers doubts about his decision for the second round", Adn March 1st).

Refering to his first interview with Ouest-France in which he said he would step down, the dissident left candidate detailed that "It was a talk off the record. The gap [between himself and Mr. Béatse] will be anyway very close. If our score is about 20%, it will mean that a lot of Angevins see themselves in our project. Out of question to ignore their voices", stated Jean-Luc Rotureau. Morever, the two main opinion surveys about the voting polls, which diverge about the results of Frédéric Béatse and Christophe Béchu, converge regarding the result of Mr. Rotureau : 17%.

According to some observers of the Angers municipal elections, the supporters of Jean-Luc Rotureau come from the centrist part of the electorate what would explain the low score of the centre candidate, Laurent Gérault. And the opinion polls suggest that his supporters would not bring their votes to the outgoing mayor, Frédéric Béatse. The conservative candidate, Christophe Béchu, bets on a trilaterally for the second round in what would make likely his victory, writes the Express which stresses that Jean-Luc Rotureau's interest is to go on for the second round instead of disappear. He could then set a date for the next ballot. In 2020.

Place au vélo rings Angers agglomeration city council candidates

L'association des usagers du vélo à Angers, Place au Vélo, a écrit aux principales listes faisant campagne pour les élections municipales et leur demande de prendre position sur quelques points essentiels relatifs aux conditions actuelles d'usage de la bicyclette et à la place que celle-ci aura une fois qu'ils auront été élus. Un petit coup de sonnette n'est pas inutile. 

Credit pictures : Place au vélo
Place au vélo, an associa-tion of bikers supporting the use and promotion of bicycle as mean of transpor-tation in town, has disclosed a letter it sent on February 5th to "the main lists to municipal elections" in order to lead them to take a stance on four points "essentials to ensure an harmonious development of travels inside the Angers agglomeration". "Are you ready to reduce the place of cars on town public domain... in traffic as much as parking", ask the co-presidents of the bikers community, Roselyne Picorit and Frédéric Guimier. According to those supporters, it is a matter of urgency "to solve pollution and traffic problems" in Angers.

The Place au vélo representatives also claim about the conditions of current cyclable lanes they consider as very incomplete" between Angers and the surroundings towns and villages. They also suggest that the number and the design of those ways will have to be considered because the development of electric bicycle use makes people able to do longer travels. They add it is the responsability of those neighbouring towns and villages to tackle the problem given they are "directly implicated in the flood of car towards Angers". According to Place au vélo, the improvement of the current facilities for bikers would surely increase the number of persons using a bike.

Credit picture Angers Loire Métropole
The association also sets date for the future, after the end of the current electoral campaign and wants to know who will be, in every team, the person in charge of the interest of cyclists and what will be the policy each team will support at Angers agglomeration regarding movings. According to Place au vélo, while all candidates to Angers and surrounding city councils make commitments in front of the voters, they can also do the same regarding voters who vote with their calves.

11 March, 2014

An Instant bagel on Saint-Laud street

La rue Saint-Laud, l'une des plus fréquentées et l'une des plus typiques d'Angers, continue d'attirer de nouvelles enseignes. Un "Instant bagel", situé à proximité de la rue Plantagenet, vient d'ouvrir ses portes. Le consommateur angevin va découvrir un nouveau produit. 

A new store and, through it, a new product, have just appeared in Angers, "L'instant bagel". Located on Saint-Laud street, the shop was opened on March 8th by Raphaël and Naïma Le Lubois, both of them restaurateurs since 1994. The bagel is far from to be unknown in English speaking countries, especially United States even if, details Mrs. Le Lubois, "its origins are rather in the Eastern European countries". For the customers, the recipe is simple.

Five kinds of different breads "all cooked in bakeries", most of them salted (but some of them can also be sugared), are the basis of the bagel what the buyers can match with several side dishes, "the whole being toasted then assembled in front of him". Easy to be eaten, the product gave its name to the store. "We bet about the practical and the speed of a bagel consumption", adds Mrs. Le Lubois' husband, Raphaël.

"L'intant bagel", which comes after a former flower shop, will be widened with a terrace equipped with heating devices, as many other bars and cafes of the Saint-Laud street. "We felt in love with the place", reminds Naïma Le Lubois who was convinced, seeing the inside of the store, with its tuffeau and slates stones, that the location will be suited to its new business.

"This is not the first time we change of restauration model", she says, sure that the bagels will be the delights of customers, whatever be their age, who go in front of the store all day long. The store, opened from Monday to Saturday included, will also fit its menus with the change of the seasons. Another "Instant bagel" in another place of Angers is even planned. The "Instant" doesn't waste time.

Ethical references surface in the electoral campaign

La campagne électorale aura vu les préoccupations éthiques faire surface. Celles-ci ont pris deux formes : la publication des patrimoines des candidats et de leurs co-lisitiers d'une part, la domiciliation des futurs conseillers municipaux à Angers d'autre part. Les différentes listes en compétition ont des positions variables sur le sujet. Toute la question est de savoir si l'électorat prendra en compte les déclarations et les comportements éthiquement responsables dans son choix. 

Transparency ideal comes in the municipal elections. Frédéric Béatse, outgoing mayor, has announced he will publish on his website the list of all his real-estate, financial and miscellaeous assets. This is in the continuation of his signature of Transparency France, member of a no governmental organization dedicated to transparency and honesty in public and economic life. He is not the only one candidate to have done so. Laurent Gérault, himself, did the same and previously also joined Anticor, a French community whic aims at fighting corruption and regenerate representative democracy.

That topic, already present since the beginning of the municipal campaign, has just been revived after its was revealed by an anonymous internet user that Christophe Béchu, himself candidate to city mayor office, had entrusted to his wife's communication agency some works resulting from municipal, european and regional campaigns between 2008 and 2010, works paid by the French state. If that situation is free from legal critics, according to the Maine-et-Loire Anticor delegate, that one, Annick Planchon, and Angers medias, questioned about their compliance with ethic. So politician ulterior motives are maybe not absent in this interest for transparency charts, Mr. Béchu didn't want to sign nevertheless pointing out that such a decision "doesn't dent [his] involvement for transparency of political representatives concerning their electors" (His assets are published on his website since 2013).

A rela-ted issue to those had surfaced during the campaign regarding the place residence of candidates and running mates given some of those, competing for the Angers city council do not live in Angers. Eight persons are in that situation among the 21st running mates of Christophe Béchu (including that one) and two among the 21st supporters of Mr. Béatse, only one in Jean-Luc Rotureau's list and nobody in those of Laurent Gérault.