Dog Day Afternoon for French Banlieues
Setting into motion. On March 15, some 50 representations from working groups on priority neighborhoods submitted their work to Jacques Mézard, Minister of Territorial Cohesion. This act brings the meeting of 10 committees, launched in February, to a close. Jean-Louis Borloo, former Minister of the City, is now in the possession of these ambitious proposals. What will happen now that it’s time to apply these proposals and launch city policies into action?
The absent Minister
“The only time we detected a flash of interest across his face was when his dog came into the room.”
On Thursday, March 15, elected neighborhood representatives and associated stakeholders presented
their committee’s work to Jacques Mézard, Minister of Territorial Cohesion.
At best, his indifference towards the subject could be characterized as disrespectful. “He is a rural man,” muttered one of the members, generally unsurprising that Mézard was only interested in serving his own agenda. However, as a minister selected by a president and elected by the French people, this behavior is cause for concern.
“City politics are just not his thing.”
Some may chalk it up to a rookie mistake, blaming the failure to find the right configuration of people
to get the job done on the fact that Macron is a young President.
However, the bitter truth is much harder to swallow, leaving the future of these “priority” neighborhoods to our imaginations.
Jacques Mézard, a man who raises discontent from his own colleagues for “distancing from the rural
world” has neither the full support of city neighborhoods nor the countryside.
How, then, will he, as he says “reconcile” all the “Frances” and bring these territories to “republican equality,” if we cannot locate him anywhere?
The non-event of March 15
While the official discourse about these committees may be positive, it is a different story behind the
scenes. The 50 representatives present at the Department for Territorial Cohesion were all on the
receiving end of a very unwelcome cold shoulder.
While the groups have been praised for “feeding the President’s word,” Driss Ettazaoui, elected in Eure and member of the commission for media and images pointed out the overall lack of “appetite for the topic.”
Another one of the commission members reported, “On Thursday, we witnessed a match in which the
winners were rural territories and the losing territories were from the city neighborhoods.”
He added, “Jean-Louis Borloo spoke of his youth and characterized the city districts as the future of France.
Jacques Mézard, on the other hand, based his speech on the necessity to bring the republic into these neighborhoods.”
Imaginary Oppositional Terrain
How might a stereotypical conversation revolutionize the image and the relationship to districts
deemed « priority »?
Mézard raises a contradiction from the Edouard Philippe government, such as in the Mulhouse city policies, assuming a strange political posture.
He has neither listened to the elected, nor the proposals developed during the thematic committees.
According to him, Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, declined a genuine vision during his speech in Tourcoing on November 15, “I cannot believe that, after we have consulted our field advisors, Macron tell us that nothing will happen” But then, another voice adds « but there are committees where the group worked well. »