Question du jour: Why are mayors across France so angry right now?

France's 36,000 mayors (or most of them) are up in arms at the moment. But why?

Question du jour: Why are mayors across France so angry right now?
Photo: AFP
It's the 100th Congress of Mayors in Paris and the French government is facing the wrath of many of the country's 36,000 locally elected leaders. 
And unsurprisingly it's all a question of money, with the budgets of France's town halls set to be slashed due to a series of major cuts introduced by the French government. 
“They're asking too much of us,” said Gilles Poux, the mayor of La Corneuve.
These cuts include a decrease in the number of subsidised jobs, a decrease in allowances given to mayors which will amount to €13 billion worth of cuts over five years, and a drop in France's personal housing allowance (APL). 
But the biggest bone of contention is the government's plan to abolish council tax (taxe d'habitation) for 80 percent of households.
That tax was collected at a local level and provided a huge chunk of each town hall's budget so the scrapping of the tax will see communes and towns across France take a huge financial hit.
While the idea was to increase the spending power of the majority of French people by getting rid of what France's prime minister Edouard Philippe has called an “unfair” tax, the mayors will have to find a way of getting around the shortfall to their budget. 
Although the government has promised to make up for the shortfall, mayors are far from convinced.
They are angry and worried. 
President of the Association of Mayors, François Baroin, said in an interview with BFM TV that there is a “gloominess” among local elected officials when it comes to Macron's policies. 
“Public services are deteriorating, investments are under threat […]. Allowances are in free fall … It's hard to tell local authorities to move forward and transform the country,” he said. 
It looks like French President Emmanuel Macron, who will be delivering the closing speech at the congress on Thursday, will have a tough job of bringing the mayors round to his way of thinking. 


France extends its winter sales as shops struggle with impact of 6pm curfew

France has extended its winter sales period by two weeks after a request from shops struggling with the loss of revenue due to the 6pm curfew.

France extends its winter sales as shops struggle with impact of 6pm curfew
Photo: AFP

The winter sales – pushed from their original start date at the beginning of January – had been due to end on Tuesday, February 16th.

However the French finance ministry has announced the extension of the sales period until March 2nd.

The decision “compensates for the impact of the 6pm curfew by allowing customers to spread out their purchases” and comes after a request from retailers, such a spokesman.

Retailers have reported the sales have been much less busy than usual as customers opt to avoid crowded places.

Also impacting on stores is the closure, from January 31st, of shopping centres and department stores more than 20,000 square metres and the 6pm curfew, which has curtailed the usually busy evening shopping period.

Sales in France are strictly regulated and the summer and winter sales take place on dates set by the government.