When Perpignan’s smelly socks start to stink – the continuing saga!
3 Basil Howitt reports on recent developments in Perpignan’s notorious electoral saga. 3
Perpignan’s current political scene is a boon to any satirist. If only Jonathan Swift were still alive, he would have revelled in the possibilities for grotesque mockery of the Conseil Municipal (Town Council). The scenario would also have made a good Hogarth.
On the political right we have Jean-Paul Alduy (UMP), the current blue-skinned reptile mayor, latest in a reigning dynasty going back to the dinosaurs. On the left there’s a basket of crabs of varying hues of red, demented and clawing. They are united only in their loathing of Alduy and of each other. The air of the council chamber is foetid with the stench of filthy socks and odious judicial writs issued to some members of the reptile’s mafioso, including the second deputy mayor herself.
3 The story so far 3
Several readers have asked me for this update on Perpignan’s smelly socks affair, first [reported in March->http://www.anglophone-direct.com/Perpignan-s-Scandal-of-the-Smelly]. Anyone inclined to be cynical about politics and politicians will have all their worst opinions confirmed by this never ending yarn. However corrupt the existing régime may be, the fragmented alternative could surely be worse. As one blogger wrote in L’Indépendant, “we are between the plague and the cholera!!!” Or as we would say, “between the devil and the deep blue sea!!!!”.
During the vote count on the night of the second round of Perpignan’s municipal elections on 16th March, a dozen voting slips were discovered in the socks and shoes of one Georges Garcia, president of ward 4 in the north of the town – and brother of one of Alduy’s close confederates on the Town Council. Although Garcia was soon arrested on suspicion of electoral fraud and placed under judicial control, the overall election result was declared valid by the “President of the High Court and the Commission for the Control of Elections”, with a small majority of 574 votes in favour of the Alduy “clan”. The turnout had been 60% from a total population of c. 117,000.
Inevitably all hell was let loose (as you can read in the previous piece). The reason for such a narrow margin had been a last-minute purely strategic union, during the week between the first and second rounds, of all the highly disparate opposition parties. This Gauche-Modem alliance, whose chief spokeswoman was Jacqueline Amiel-Donat (Partie Socialiste), had been mischievously engineered by Christian Bourquin, socialist President of the P.-O.’s Conseil Général. The enmity between Bourquin and Alduy is legendary and ruinous, with Bourquin loathing the stranglehold that the Alduy dynasty has had over Perpignan for almost 50 years.
The others in Amiel-Donat’s pot-pourri electoral liste were (and are) Jean Codognès (DVG or Dissident Socialists), Katia Mingo (The Greens), Jordi Vera (Catalan trans-frontier nationalists), Clotilde Ripoull (Modem – Bayrou’s centrist democratic movement), and Nicole Gaspon (Communists). Louis Aliot (National Front) had his own list but was also happy to oust Alduy’s gang.
Appeals were lodged against the validity of the election result with the Tribunal Administratif – in a 160 page document with 28 annexes. This Tribunal is the Court in Montpellier that deals with matters of public administration.
3 ELECTION INVALIDÉE 3
Fast forward now six months to 7th October, when the Tribunal Administratif declared the March election to be invalid. Worse than that, three women were held overnight in custody, two of them being charged with “complicity in electoral fraud” and placed under judicial control: Marie Tjoyas, Alduy’s second deputy mayor, and Angélique Garcia, a municipal employee who is daughter of Georges Garcia (he of the socks), and daughter-in-law of Manu Garcia, a prominent member of Alduy’s liste. The third detainee, Valérie Vilatte, was declared to be a témoin assisté, i.e. a witness under suspicion and entitled to legal representation. All three were officially involved in the vote counts in ward 4 – Marie Tjoyas as George Garcia’s vice-president, Angélique Garcia as secretary and Valérie Vilatte as an official assessor.
Mesdames Tjoyas and Garcia have been forbidden to liaise with any other protagonists in the dossier. This effectively means that Marie Tjoyas cannot carry out her official functions in the Conseil Municipal and elsewhere. Is she therefore entitled to continue to receive her official allowances? We shall see.
Alduy, of course, has appealed against the Tribunal’s invalidation of the election to the highest court, the Conseil d’Etat, whose verdict will take six months to materialise.
3 Conspicuous by her absence. 3
Marie Tjoyas was not present at the Conseil meeting on 20 October – the first since the invalidation of the election. Alduy had to stand in for her when necessary.
At this meeting, which will surely become a landmark in the civic annals of the town, Alduy received a barrage of aggressive demands for his resignation. The opening salvo came from Amiel-Donat. Here it is on video, and also freely condensed and paraphrased:
“In this assembly we must stop pretending. We have never stopped saying that your presence is illegitimate. This makes you angry but it is the truth. Besides the illegitimacy that taints your team, there is also its indignity. Stop playing the victim. Until proof arrives to the contrary all those implicated in this affair are tarred with the same brush. Perpignan is ashamed. It is time for you to assume your responsibilities. If you are not frightened of the electors, go to the polls. (Allez-y.)
Other salvos followed including these:
Clotilde Ripoull (Modem):
Nicole Gaspon (Communist):
Alduy replied with his usual aplomb:
STOP PRESS: in its Friday edition (31st October), L’Indépendant reports the resignation of the seond deputy mayor, Marie Tjoyas.
3 References and follow-up: 3
© 2008 Basil Howitt
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