“Any attack perpetuated against a mayor is an attack perpetuated against the Republic”, warned French Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti on Wednesday after a ministerial meeting to which local mayor associations were invited, according to BFMTV.
As France is facing increasing violent behaviour targeted towards its elected representatives, he announced that insulting a mayor would now be treated as an offence of contempt, whereas before it was qualified as an “insult”.
The offence of contempt carries a maximum penalty of community service of up to 280 hours or a maximum fine of €7,500 under French law.
The Minister said he will put the idea to the public prosecutor’s department because “a mayor who is insulted is a mayor who, in legal terms, is abused”.
Local councillors have previously criticised the French justice system for being to slow when it came to them being assaulted.
Eric Dupont-Moretti promised that from now on there will be “a systematic, immediate and proportionate answer” to any aggression.
According to the latest numbers published by l’Association des maires de France, at least 233 mayors were attacked from January to July 2020. They were 383 in 2019 and 361 in 2018.
Mayors are hugely important within the French political system, they have wide-ranging powers and represent a wide range of communities, from small villages to jobs with a multi-million euro annual budget such as the Mayor of Paris.
Meanwhile the mairie of Lhéraule (a small town in Picardie in northern France) made good manners compulsory in 2012 and you can be removed from the premises if you don’t greet staff politely with a bonjour or if you don’t say “please” during your exchange. Read the full story here.