And Then There Will Be One March 15, 2008Posted by gordonwatts in Marseille.
Today (Sunday) is 2nd round election day in Marseille. Actually, all over France. Many people are waiting to see if the left will win – Sarkozy is from the right and his popularity has hit lows more quickly than almost any other French President.
However, all these are local elections. And it really is about getting out the vote. Posters (like this one shown) are everywhere. In fact, the city has put up special wooden stands that political’s can stick their posters to. We don’t have a TV, so we miss that aspect, but everything else is pleasingly personal. Since the only other city I ever lived in was Chicago, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tight local race that is was seen as important (in Chicago, the machine choose, not the voter).
But Marseille is funny – at least when it comes to electing its Mayor. Marseille is divided up into sectors. In each sector 40 or so people are elected. The top 10 from each sector come together and elect the Mayor. There is no direct election of the mayor. This means that everyone runs on a list – “Gaudin’s list” or “Guerini’s list”, or someone else’s.
Last Sunday was the first election. This week is the run-off. It is down to Gaudin and Guerini for mayor. Gaudin has been running this place for 10 years. Friends of mine at work have said things like “Don Corleone” when describing him. He is very much a creature of the right and apparently basically ignores needs of students or the universities or labs (even though Marseille is a major research hub in France). On the other hand, it is very hard to deny that Marseille is doing well. I’ve been coming here on and off for the last 5 years and I can see how much it has improved. Sure, it is still dirty – but lots better than before. New construction everywhere. New stores. New tram. Metro open to a reasonable time of the night. That last one happened just before the election… makes you say “Hmmmm…”
Gaudin’s past victories have never been in doubt. This one, however, is neck-in-neck – so close no one is willing to call it. Heck they even had a debate – a first! I suspect there will be a party somewhere on the Vieux Port tomorrow. On one side if Gaudin (the current mayor) wins, and one on the other side if Guerini wins.