Candidate: Would you vote for me for twenty bucks?
Mayor: Hey, what kind of a public official do you think I am?
All of France now knows what French Mayor André Garrec is; they're just haggling over his price.
First, some background to this story. You need to know a curious fact about the French Presidential election system, and I turn to one of my favorite blogs, French Election 2007, for this concise summary:
In order for a candidate to be on the ballot, they must have received the support /signatures of 500 elected officials around France. There is of course a finite number of elected officials in France, but this still allows for the potential of dozens of candidates in the first round of voting.
A handful of would-be French candidates, such as the high-profile campaign of controversial firebrand Jean Marie Le Pen, have been unable, at this date, to secure their required number of 500 signatures. While I'm certainly not going to lose any sleep if that piece of... ahem, if that candidate fails to obtain his required 500 sponsorships, there are some other candidates definitely worthy of support, for instance our preferred choice, Phillipe De Villiers (who, as far as I know, still needs the coveted 500 names himself!)
Now we can introduce you to His Honor, André Garrec, mayor of the small Normandy village of Noron-la-Poterie (population: approx 300), and his justification for turning tricks in order to participate in his country's process for determining which fellow French citizen will emerge with the stewardship of their nation. Courtesy of French news magazine, Liberation: [my translation from the original french]
In face of the difficulty for several candidates to obtain the 500 precious signatures, the mayor of a Normandie village has found a [profitable?] scheme:
he will grant his to the highest bidder.
[Mayor André Garrec] explains his approach: in order to put an end to the solicitations from representatives of dozens of candidates, he decided that “until the 14th of March”, that is two days before the deadline for handing in sponsorships, he will grant his signature [his patronage] “to the highest bidder”. The mayor has specified that he is not doing it “for myself personally, but for three [charities? “associations”, in the original French] and for the school” in his community.
“If I get a check from a candidate, it will be shared equitably.” Garrec has not discussed the legality of his initiative which he must have taken on his own, but must nevertheless feel that it is approved by the majority of his constituents.
One constituent, in particular, is quite vocal in his support for the mayor's absence of principles. From a news story in yesterday's french news site 20minutes.fr, "I am putting my conscience aside": [my translation]
[The mayor's] project is supported by the mayoral deputies contacted by 20minutes.fr. “He is right [to do this]", says Guy Richet, 2nd deputy who leans socialist. “The candidates make us all puke and badger us with their letters. Obviously, they have a lot of cash to waste. As for us, we want to get some of it!”
[I'm up for debate as to whether Mr. Richet's french expletive, "...nous font tellement chier..." is accurately translated as "..really make us all puke"]
Today there were some new developments on this story, again courtesy of the news site 20minutes.fr .... someone has put in a bid for the mayor's, er, services: [my translation from the original french]
[Garrec] has confirmed to 20minutes.fr that he has received a financial offer from a member of the Front National to sponsor Jean-Marie Le Pen. FN’s European deputy Ferdinand Le Rachinel visited the mayor’s home and offered him “in friendly payment” four cheques for 250 euros each, towards three charities in the community and the kindergarten school. The checks would be in the name of “Mr and Mrs Le Rachinel” and not in the name of the FN.
André Garrec, who has not yet received any other offers from other candidates, said he would wait for the “end of the auction” on March 14 before he would give his sponsorship. If no other candidate outbids him, the mayor will grant his signature to Jean-Marie Le Pen “without any remorse”.
So it seems that, barring any last minute campaign spending, the good mayor of Noron-la-Poterie, hizzonor Garrec, will have secured the equivalent of $1,550 Canadian dollars worth of charity for his little community's children and dispossesed. What if some lunatic candidate ends up winning the election, what would then befall his nation? Well, if the mayor's got his wad of cash, today, why would he care what happens to the rest of his fellow countrymen, tomorrow; he's adamantly just looking out for his own. Besides tomorrow is such a long way away.
What if the candidate who ends up becoming France's next President, causes such unprecedented trouble for France, that every single blessed citizen of Noron-la-Poterie in favor of their mayor's act of prostitution are thrown out of work and onto the dole so prized by his honor Mr. Garrec... What then? Any remorse then?
If his little hamlet is so hard up for financial aid, forcing the mayor to shop his wares at the national street corner, maybe he and his constituents could spare a thought as to WHY their condition is so desperate, and see which candidate might come closest to steering things right.
France is dying because far too many of its citizens live, like Mayor Garrec, without remorse. May Canada learn from France's mistakes.