mice and votes

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Marseille / M Le magazine du Monde / Michel Setboun / Corbis / Getty

Previously… Less than forty-five days before the first round, the candidates cross the territory. It’s time for wars and stabs in the back.

On the facade of the Busserine school, the joyful portraits of the students photographed in black and white by the plastic artist JR swear with the tense atmosphere of this Friday, February 7. The mistral has brutally cooled the atmosphere and the winter sun rises lazily on the towers of this city in the northern districts of Marseille, as well known for its traffic as for the activity of its social center and its theater, for its bloody settling of scores only for the mobilizations of its inhabitants.

In the access that leads to the entrance to kindergarten, children, parents and candidates for the municipal elections have just reluctantly sat down, pressed against each other, on the icy ground. An improvised sit-in, under the orders of Fadela Ouidef, a student mother who took the leadership of the revolt. Hands around the mouth, the young woman, figure of the Busserine, harangues the hundred or so people present. “We are blocking school because there has been a mouse invasion for weeks and the town hall is doing nothing … Our children are children of the Republic, children of France. The same story in the southern districts, it is settled in two minutes “, she rages, to cheers.

Pestilential smell

At La Busserine, the school complex dates from 2015. A beautiful architectural ensemble, which was to symbolize the renovation of this city, a giant project launched in 2011 with 132 million euros from the National Agency for Urban Renewal and local authorities. Eight years later, the neighborhood is still under construction. “Yes, the school is new, but it was delivered full of defects”, annoys Sofia, an elegant mom who holds her impressed son by the hand.

A few days ago, the teachers asked the parents to stop giving the kids a snack. “In order not to attract mice”, She says. A year ago, like the other parents, Sofia demonstrated to denounce the pestilential smell that prevailed in certain rooms. Under their pressure, the municipality of Jean-Claude Gaudin, the mayor Les Républicains, noticed that evacuations had been pouring into the crawl space for forty-eight months.

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This Thursday, sitting in the middle of the parents on the cold concrete, the municipal candidates wisely display their indignation. There is the departmental secretary of the Communist Party, Jérémy Bacchi, candidate of the Marseilles Spring, this union of a dozen left parties and citizen collectives. Julien Rossi, representative of ex-socialist senator Samia Ghali in these 13e and 14e boroughs. The “rebellious” Mohamed Bensaada, for his part, parked his scooter a little further away, as usual. The day before, he was officially named head of the list of Unir, a coalition of EELV, LFI activists and citizens of the Democratic Pact, a collective of which he is also one of the founders.

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