Joachim Fritz-Vannahme
6. March 2020

Bye, bye, mon cher British Conseiller municipal!

France elects its mayors and municipal councils in mid-March. A good reason to leaf through the “40 cartes pour comprendre la France”, that is, “40 maps to understand #France”.

Published by a team of #LeMonde, the 110 pages read like a kaleidoscope of the inner turmoil of this great country. More on this in a moment.

First of all, however, we have to report on a state of affairs that was not familiar even to me as an old friend of France. The local elections and  #Brexit are closely connected this time.


Who leads the ranking of the elected?


Why? Since 2001, EU citizens at local level have also been allowed to run for office in France. Of the 499,356 local councils, they represent only or at least 0.5 percent of the people’s representatives, mostly in smaller municipalities with fewer than 2,000 inhabitants.

And among EU citizens, who is the leader in the rankings of those elected? The Brits!

They have 766 local politicians, followed by the Belgians with 547 and the Portuguese (358, but they are not immediate neighbours) and the Dutch, who with their 320 councillors beat the Germans (212) to the punch, almost as in football.


In rare cases, such as in a small village in Calvados, a Dutchwoman, a German woman and a Belgian sit together in the council chamber, or, as in the Dordogne, a Dutchwoman, a British woman and a Polish woman.

Vive l’Europe!


What a pity, the British are no longer allowed to stand for election!



In some places in la France profonde, la douce France they will probably miss their British in the future. For with the Brexit of January 31st this year they are no longer allowed to stand for election. What a pity!

Back to the special edition of Le Monde. This is in a very French, very educational tradition. Histoire-géo, as it is called in colloquial language, is a mixed subject in secondary schools, which is taught in this common form only in the French Republic. So time and space are seen together – this applies to the space-time called France as well as to the space-time world.


On Arte TV they cultivate a French tradition in the most beautiful way


The German-French TV channel Arte also cultivates this tradition in the best possible way. There, “Les dessous des cartes”, in the English version „Mapping the World“ (note the difference) has been one of the station’s long-running favourites.

The programme was invented by the ethnologist and political scientist Jean-Christophe Victor, who was also its anchorman for over a quarter of a century. After his sudden death in 2016, journalist Emilie Aubry took over.


How farmers settle their inheritance also determines voting behaviour


In the special issue of Le Monde, the renowned geographer Hervé Le Bras explains right at the outset what knowledge about “the mosaic of France” (Le Bras) forty maps can conjure up. How, for example, the farmers in the north and the south have settled their inheritance, and this for an eternity, still has an impact on voting behaviour today – to name just one example.

My advice: just browse and be amazed – and secretly wish that we were offered such an inspiring access to other EU countries, too.



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