Santonian News Central


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OOC: Welcome to Santonian News Central! In this thread I will post newsbits from Saintonge. This will primarily be a linking thread.

News Organisations:
l'Independant: National broadsheet newspaper, independent, centrist
l'Étoile: tabloid, left-leaning

la Voix de Champagne: regional newspaper for the Champagne region [with 13 local editions covering Langres (Chalaronne), Sens + Villefranche-en-Champagne, Senlis (Dropt), Corbeil (Epte), Nogent/Lisle (Lisle), Provins, Lagny/Saine, Montereau-fault-Yèvre (Puy-d'Or), Beauséjour (Rhue), Bicêtre, Surgères (Saine-et-Loine), Trappes, and Sainte-Menehould (Sambre)]
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Santonians Abroad will have a Parliamentary Seat

by Mélanie Bacrot in Saintes
16 May 2018 - 1325h

SAINTES – King Thibault II yesterday issued Royal Assent to Act 2018-0345, which introduced representation for Santonians living abroad by giving them a seat in the Santonian National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament.

The Proposal
The tripartisan proposal was introduced in the National Assembly by deputies Marcelline Tréhet (N, 2nd Côtes-du-Nord), Paul-Lenthéric Baumann (L, 2nd Lauter), and Jean-Jacques Fargeau (R, 1st Simbruins). The proposal introduces adds an additional seat to the next National Assembly, to be voted upon by Santonians living abroad. Previously, Santonians abroad who managed to vote did so in their most recent electoral circumscription of residence; which is difficult to prove if the Santonian citizen was born abroad or had no longer maintained residency in the country. With the new law, they will no longer have to vote within their previous electoral district; the rest of the world (Santonians abroad) is considered as one electoral circumscription.

It also makes voting easier. Previously, Santonians living abroad had to apply for an absentee ballot from their electoral circumscription, which will be mailed to them one month before the election day. The voter then has to send back the marked ballots, and it has to be received within two days after election day. Given the slowness of some of the world’s postal systems, many Santonians’ votes do not reach the electoral board on time, or sometimes, they don’t even receive their ballots.

The proposal also sped up the voting process; the absentee voter will have to cast his/her ballot at Santonian embassies and consulates around the world, which now serves as voting precincts. Counting will be held there and the results sent to the Royal Elections Institute for tallying.

Another difference is that the deputy for the Electoral Circumscription for Santonians Abroad will be elected via the first-past-the-post system, instead of the two-round system in Saintonge proper. According to the proponents, this is to make the elections more accessible and efficient to run, since most countries are covered by only one or two foreign stations – thus, a voter having to travel twice in the event of a two-round election may depress turnout.

The proposal was passed unanimously by the National Assembly 398-0 last May 7 and by the House of Lords 196-0 last May 12. It will enter into force after publication in the official government publication le Journal Royal de Saintonge. The new seat will be contested in the next Parliamentary elections.

translation by Kyle MacTaggart-de Flesselles
16 May 2018 - 1644h

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la Voix de

Sylvain Audrain passes away

19 May 2018 J-L. de T.
BICÊTRE – Sylvain Audrain, Liberal deputy for the 21st electoral circumscription of the Saine-et-Loine, had passed away at Bicêtre Hospital from complications of pancreatic cancer. He was 54. He is survived by his wife Marine, children Sébastien, Thomas, Laurence, and Pauline, and three grandchildren.

Mr. Audrain had served as deputy of the 21st circumscription of the Saine-et-Loine since 2015. Previously the mayor of Bezonvaux (Saine-et-Loine), a councillor in the General Council of the Saine-et-Loine, and eventually President of the General Council of the Saine-et-Loine, Mr. Audrain was elected in 2015 as deputy to the National Assembly.

Necrological services will be held on 21 May at his hometown of Bezonvaux. The family requests that instead of sending flowers, donations to the Sylvain Audrain Foundation could be sent instead.


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JLHC: “We’re not pushing for secularism”
Prime Minister contradicts deputy

21 May 2018 D.A.
SAINTES – in an interview with the broadcaster Saintonge Télévisions (ST1) yesterday, Prime Minister Jean-Louis Hauteclocque de Champtoceaux of the Liberals directly contradicted the statements made by Deputy Prime Minister Georges Conté de Caunes of the Radicals.

“This government is not going to introduce laïcité any time soon,” Mr. Hauteclocque de Champtoceaux told journalist Élodie-Anne Placé. “That’s not in the works.”

Ms. Placé, surprised, brought up Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Church Affairs Georges Conté de Caunes’ statements last week that the government will be pushing for more secularism and laïcité. The remarks elicited responses from the acting Leader of the Opposition, Marc Gaucelin of the National Party, and from the Archbishops of Embrun and Tiffauges.

A visibly annoyed Prime Minister told Ms. Placé, “No laïcité. We're not pushing for it. We have a lot more issues to tackle in government.” The Prime Minister refrained from further commenting on the issue and went on to other topics.

Also yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Laurent Junot of the Greens replied to a similar question from a journalist in an ambush interview. “No, I haven’t yet seen such a proposal brought up in the Cabinet. Perhaps it’s just one of Mr. Conté de Caunes’ crazy ideas.”


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la Voix de

Special election a test for the government, opposition

22 May 2018 R-C. G.
SAINTES - Prime Minister Jean-Louis Hauteclocque de Champtoceaux had just seen his majority in the National Assembly dwindle to 3. With the death of deputy Sylvain Audrain, the balance at the National Assembly stands at 213-216.

A special election for the 21st electoral circumscription of the Saine-et-Loine was called by the Royal Elections Institute and was set for 6 August. While the Liberal-Radical-Green Coalition government is not in danger of losing its majority if the Nationals win the seat, it now being widely touted as a barometer for the fractious Coalition government, now in the middle of its term. It is also seen as a test for the divided National Party, which, after the recriminations from the 2015 defeat, is still struggling to act as a credible opposition to the Coalition government.

The four parties will be having their nomination conventions at the end of the month, in time for the start of the campaign period on 11 June.


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la Voix de

Courseaux wins the National Party nomination

30 May 2018 R-C. G.
SURGÈRES (SAINE-ET-LOINE) – former Miss Saintonge Ms. Anne-Douceline Courseaux won the nomination for the special election in the 21st electoral circumscription of the Saine-et-Loine. She will be facing the Liberals’ Daniel Guyonvarc, the Radicals’ Alain Bellefontaine, and the Greens’ Laurence-Dianne Juneau-Lamoreaux in an election on 6 August.

Ms. Courseaux was selected by an overwhelming margin of voters in the local National Party convention, winning 83% of the ballots cast, avoiding a runoff. Her selection is not unexpected: Ms. Courseaux also serves as the leader of the National Party in the Departmental Council of the Saine-et-Loine and is one of the more prominent departmental party leaders of the National Party. The win by Ms. Courseaux, a leader of the Rénovateur wing of the National Party, signifies that the faction is gaining ascendancy within the National Party. Her young age (she is 37) is also a signal that the youth faction is increasingly participating in the party’s direction.

Ms. Courseaux was also undoubtedly helped by her name recognition and connections in the area. She is familiar to most voters and to the nation: she was a winner of the Miss Saintonge beauty pageant in the year 2000, and has a moderately popular Viedéo channel. She still co-hosts a weekly talk show, Mères sait mieux, aired by Canal+, Saintonge’s biggest private TV channel. Ms. Courseaux’s husband, the farmer Mathieu-Brice Sabatier, is from the village of Sully-sur-Loine, located within the district. The couple own a home and a farm in nearby Beaugency, where they raise their four children.

With Ms. Courseaux’s selection, the National Party had come to the forefront in the special election. Given the tilt of the 21st circumscription of the Saine-et-Loine, a National win is likely for this district.


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la Voix de

Nationals win special election

7 August 2018 R-C. G.
CHARNY-SUR-LOINE (SAINE-ET-LOINE) – The Coalition government suffered a setback yesterday as the National Party won the special elections to fill the seat of the 21st electoral circumscription of the Saine-et-Loine, which was previously held by the late Mr. Sylvain Audrain.

Ms. Anne-Douceline Courseaux of the National Party did not even need a runoff as she won the first round outright with 69% of the vote, in a 73% voter turnout. The Liberals’ Guyonvarc took the second place with 20%, with the Radicals’ Bellefontaine and Greens’ Juneau-Lamoreaux splitting the remainder with 9% and 2% respectively.

Though the results did not surprise most observers who widely predicted a National win in the district, it nevertheless reduces the Coalition’s majority in the National Assembly; with 216 seats for the Liberal-Radical-Green coalition and 214 seats for the National Party.


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Know a Deputy

Editor's Note: "Know a Deputy" is a special feature of L'Indépendant that aims to profile all 430 members of the Santonian National Assembly in preparation for elections in 2020. We have sent invites to all deputies for an interview and will be featuring the deputies in order of their response to our invitation. Our first interviewee is Saintonge's newest deputy and the first to respond to our invitation.

Beauty queen reigns in the Saine-et-Loine

Ms. Anne-Douceline Courseaux (N, 21st Saine-et-Loine)

Name of Deputy: Anne-Douceline Courseaux
Also known as: Miss Saintonge 2000
District: 21st electoral circumscription of the Saine-et-Loine
Party: National Party

Born: 22 December 1980, Meung-sur-Loine (Scyotte)
Residence: Beaugency (Saine-et-Loine)

BEAUGENCY (SAINE-ET-LOINE) – a beauty queen reigns over the 21st electoral circumscription of the Saine-et-Loine. Ms. Anne-Douceline Courseaux won 6 August special election in the district after the death of its former deputy Mr. Sylvain Audrain of the Liberals, in the process narrowing the Coalition’s majority in the National Assembly.

Ms. Courseaux was born in Meung-sur-Loine, as the 4th of 5 children of a farming family. “Manual labour is no stranger to me,” she said once in her talk show, “I grew up castrating hogs in our farm.” She was a regular in local beauty pageants as well, and was spotted by an agent when she won the 1999 Miss Scyotte title while studying Agribusiness in community college. With the win in the departmental beauty pageant, the Tyrossian farm girl earned a ticket to the 2000 Miss Saintonge beauty pageant. Ms. Courseaux impressed the judges and the country with her beauty, quick wit, and her down-to-earth attitude. Ms. Courseaux became Miss Saintonge 2000, after which she became a model and TV personality. She starred in various movies and TV shows, including the celebrity edition of the reality TV show L’amour est dans le pré, which is the Santonian version of “Farmer Wants a Wife”. Ms. Courseaux also won that one, marrying the farmer Mathieu-Brice Sabatier in 2006. They now have two sets of twins, for a total of four children.

Even though her rural roots helped her win in the TV show, Mr. Sabatier apparently didn’t really need a farmer wife who will help him ride the tractor or castrate the hogs. Ms. Courseaux continued to appear on television, and currently hosts a Saturday talk show Mères sait mieux (“Mothers know best”) aimed primarily at mothers. Ms. Courseaux said it was actually her husband that prodded her to continue in show business.

Madame Courseaux as Miss Saintonge 2000.

It was also with her husband’s encouragement that she entered politics. When the Liberal-led departmental council of the Saine-et-Loine wanted to make it easier to convert more farmland into residential suburbia, Ms. Courseaux mobilised voters and councillors against the proposal. “My husband was egging me on,” she said, “He told me, ‘if you don’t like it, campaign against it.’” She then ran in the 2008 departmental elections, on the list for the intendancy of Charny-sur-Loine. In the departmental council of the Saine-et-Loine, she is viewed as a defender of rural and farming interests. The President of the General Council at the time, Mr. Audrain, was rumoured to have said, “Never insult Coulommiers cheese. The farm girl beauty queen from Charny might get angry.”

Ms. Courseaux is also an important and prominent local leader in the Rénovateur (“Renovator”) wing of the National Party, a faction within the party that aims to “reconstruct and rebuild” the party after its electoral defeat in the 2015 parliamentary elections. It is with the support of this faction that she was nominated as the National candidate in the special election, which she won. Now a deputy in the National Assembly, a TV host, a farmer’s wife, and a mother-of-four young children, Ms. Courseaux said that “I want to be an inspiration for everybody, especially for mothers. Despite the challenges family life will offer, you can still do whatever you like.” ●

Interview and Article by Marie-Claire Suaudeau
Translated by Jérôme-Caden Barceloux Colcolough
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Know a Deputy

Editor's Note: "Know a Deputy" is a special feature of L'Indépendant that aims to profile all 430 members of the Santonian National Assembly in preparation for elections in 2020. We have sent invites to all deputies for an interview and will be featuring the deputies in order of their response to our invitation.


DJ Kyle Freako (N, 1st Dropt)

Name of Deputy: Kylian Fricoteaux
Also known as: DJ Kyle Freako
District: 1st electoral circumscription of the Dropt
Party: National Party

Born: 17 January 1984, Lomenie-de-Brienne (Dropt)
Residence: Lomenie-de-Brienne (Dropt)

BRIENNE (DROPT) - Widely popular DJ Kyle Freako has another job after retiring from making wildly popular electronic dance music in 2014. Another celebrity-turned-deputy, Kylian Fricoteaux (his real name) is now the deputy for the 1st electoral circumscription of the Dropt.

Mr. Fricoteaux was born in the small village of Lomenie-de-Brienne within the district to a family of cheesemakers. The youngest of five children, he was sent to the city of Sens to live with a childless aunt. But as DJ Kyle Freako admits, “I was a bad, misguided kid. Thank goodness my Aunt Delphine had the patience of Job and a disposition of a saint. She had to put up with a lot.”

Mr. Fricoteaux attended his first rave party (without Aunt Delphine’s permission) at the age of 11. He was hooked. He ran away several times to attend parties, as far away as Saintes. He also learned how to DJ when he was 15. “I wasn’t just interested in attending. I want to make music.” Mustering up enough courage, he apprenticed himself with various DJs to learn their trade. At 18, he left Sens for Saintes, which has a larger and more lively party scene.

Now going by the name DJ Kyle Freako (a word play on his real name), he was at first hired as a freelance DJ in various dance clubs in Saintes, which meant that he didn’t have regular employment. “I am familiar with the food bank at Saint-Brice,” he said in an interview with Pierre Roulante music magazine back in 2009, “and now, I donate to the food bank.”

His work slowly became popular through the online video-sharing website Viedéo and the music streaming service Stopify. His work Transe de Dieu became viral, and he was picked up in 2005 by the recording company Multiversal Music. During his short time in the industry, he was very popular and prolific: his subsequent albums Kyle Freako (2006), Saint-Onge (2008), Les aveux d’un homme mort (2011), and Les morceaux cachées (2013) were all certified platinum. However, while seemingly at the peak of his career, DJ Kyle Freako decided to call it quits, retiring from making music in 2014 after finishing his Morceaux tour.

DJ Kyle Freako, now back to being Kylian Fricoteaux, returned to his hometown and his family. He had rescued their financially struggling cheesemaking family business and invited back Aunt Delphine to live in his big new house. “I have my future financially secure, but I felt the aimlessness,” Mr. Fricoteaux said in a 2016 interview with the local newspaper La Voix de Champagne. “I wanted to do something, to try something.”

When the former deputy for the 1st electoral circumscription of the Dropt retired in 2015, Mr. Fricoteaux threw his hat into the ring. “Just to see what it looks like,” he said. The unpopularity of the National Party in 2015 meant that Mr. Fricoteaux had few challengers to the National Party nomination. He won the nomination on the second ballot, defeating more experienced politicians in the district. Capitalising on his popularity and influence on the youth, Mr. Fricoteaux won in the second round of the 2015 parliamentary elections. Despite running as the National Party candidate, being a fresh face in an anti-incumbent environment (his second-round opponent was the Liberal mayor of Brienne) helped a lot in his victory as well.

Now swapping his headphones and outlandish costumes with a suit, Mr. Fricoteaux admits he is enjoying his stint as deputy. “I like it. I might stay on for a while here.” ●

Interview and Article by Marc-Tobias Guilbault
Translated by Jérôme-Caden Barceloux Colcolough


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Les Perspectives by Marie-Danielle Ponceau
Rocking the Boat

18 August 2018
Observers are surprised that the Liberal-Radical-Green government had survived this far. United by their opposition to the National Party, yet far apart in their ideology, most analysts predicted that this government won’t last long.

And yet it is now on the third of its five-year term. That is not to say that it has been a smooth ride. In fact, it is a rocky one, as evidenced by repeated dissensions within government. The government has been saved only by the weakness of the opposition. For instance, with the 2016 Primeau Law in that instituted civil unions for same-sex couples, the government would’ve been defeated as some socially conservative Liberal deputies voted against; they were only saved by National Party deputies who voted for the law. With the 2017 Caruhel Law liberalising the labour market, the Greens opposed it. The government was saved when National Assembly President Jean-Claude Arrivé scheduled the vote at a time when several National Party deputies were absent and the law squeaked through the National Assembly despite the Greens voting against the government. The anger of the Greens was such that GCC was forced to publicly declare that no other liberalising labour laws will be passed during this government’s term.

The leaders of the three parties, Prime Minister Jean-Louis Hauteclocque de Champtoceaux (JLHC) of the Liberals, and Deputy Prime Ministers Georges Conté de Caunes (GCC) of the Radicals and Laurent Junot of the Greens are not afraid to spar publicly. JLHC and GCC, both of aristocratic descent, treat Junot as a pissant commoner; yet they need Junot’s 4 parliamentary deputies in the closely-divided National Assembly.

It had been a turbulent three years. Now the boat is being rocked again, by proposals to “secularise” the country; or, in GCC’s words, the need for “laïcité”. The Radicals, being economically conservative and socially progressive, is the direct polar opposite of the (mostly) economically progressive and socially conservative Santonian National Church. Thus calls for laïcité are strongest from the Radical camp. To a lesser extent, the Greens also share fondness for laïcité, since their leftmost wing contain communistic factions. Junot, though, being from the right wing of the Green Party, is less likely to support such proposals.

But the Liberals, even though they disagree with the Church on economic issues, are very resistant to laïcité. Last May, Prime Minister JLHC publicly brushed off proposals for introducing complete separation of church and state in Saintonge, contradicting GCC’s public pronouncements.

Now there seems to be another trouble brewing. Aside from the laïcité issue, which seems to pit Radicals against the Liberals and the Greens, the Radicals are now reneging on GCC’s promise not to touch labour laws once again.

Labour Minister Jean-Charles Caruhel and his deputy, the Liberal Jean-Édouard Vuilletet, are proposing further loosening of Saintonge’s labour laws. These reforms, dubbed Caruhel II, will make it easier for employers to fire employees, cap overtime pay rates that can be negotiated by unions, and, in what will surely infuriate the labour sector, institute a “right to work” law in Saintonge. The previous reform, Caruhel I, was responsible for allowing workers to declare themselves as non-members of union, but the union will still be able to collect dues. Under the proposed Caruhel II, non-union workers in a unionised company will no longer have to pay dues. Aside from that, Caruhel II will also empower employers to prohibit the formation of unions in their companies.

The proposed laws was introduced in Parliament last Monday and was met with vociferous opposition from Junot. “That is unacceptable. We have been promised that they will no longer destroy worker’s protections. The Green Party cannot remain part of a government that sides against our workers.”

The threat, issued two days ago, was met with derision from JLHC and GCC. “I don’t think Junot will stoop to that low,” said GCC. “Is he serious?” JLHC reportedly said, “No, he’s probably not.”

The proposed Caruhel II reforms is most likely to pit the economically rightist Liberals and Radicals against the economically leftist Greens. JLHC and GCC will need to tread carefully, lest the Greens break the government coalition. But with the opposition Nationals still in disarray, the two aristocrats think they can still get away with ignoring the Greens. ●

Translated by Kyle MacTaggart-de Flesselles
19 Aug 2018 ~ 0927 h
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Know a Deputy

Editor's Note: "Know a Deputy" is a special feature of L'Indépendant that aims to profile all 430 members of the Santonian National Assembly in preparation for elections in 2020. We have sent invites to all deputies for an interview and will be featuring the deputies in order of their response to our invitation.

Always a winner

Brice-Cédric Charbonneau (N, 6th Cenise)

Name of Deputy: Brice-Cédric Charbonneau
Also known as: Cédric
District: 6th electoral circumscription of the Cenise
Party: National Party

Born: 23 September 1981, Aulnay-sous-Saintes (Cenise)
Residence: Aulnay-sous-Saintes (Cenise)

AULNAY-SOUS-SAINTES (CENISE) - He was always a winner. Having been instrumental in the “three-peat” championship titles of his old club Saintes-Saints-Brice Football Club (which, contrary to the widespread adulatory joke, is not named after him), the former star striker is now winning elections as deputy in his hometown.

Cédric was born in the city of Aulnay-sous-Saintes, a Cenise city just across the capital’s northeastern city limits. The reputation of Aulnay-sous-Saintes, was (and still is) that of an impoverished city, with crime-ridden neighbourhoods, grimy factories, and poor working-class people. The rich people across the border from Saintes call the city the “AsS”, a swipe at its unsavoury reputation and its initials. “The stereotype of Aulnay is to some extent truthful,” said Cédric. “Aulnay used to have daily robberies. I knew how to swear like a dockworker when I was five.”

Cédric was born as the eldest of seven children of a dockworker and a seamstress. The size of the family and the labour unrest of the 1980s meant that Cédric’s family was impoverished. His father died in a work accident in 1994 while his mother was pregnant with his youngest brother. His mother struggled to earn money and take care for the large family. “I remember my mother not being able to pay the bills on time. We almost got kicked out of our house – only when our parliamentary deputy interceded did we keep our house.”

As the eldest, Cédric also helped around by earning extra as a day labourer in the docks as well. “My build – I got that from lifting heavy things.” In his free time, he played football, and was the star of his school’s football team. Leading the Aulnay team over better-funded school teams from Sancoins and Saint-Océan, Cédric was the key to their school winning the departmental football championship. The sizable prize monies from the championship saved his struggling school’s sports and athletic programs. “That was my frustration back then. Children in poor communities aren’t being given opportunities available in other well-off communities, because of lack of funding. That’s why some of the youth turn to crime or drugs. But for me, crime and drugs were not an option. My mother and my younger siblings needed me.”

Unlike his teammates in Saintes-Saints-Brice, Cédric was not a product of any football academy. He largely taught himself, aided by his school coach, and played on the streets and parks of Aulnay. He was scouted at the departmental football championship game by the Saintes-Saints-Brice Football Club (SSBFC). He was invited to the youth training camp, after which he was immediately put on the reserve team. “Cédric may not have been taught the theories, but his instincts are on the spot,” said the then-coach on the Saintes-Saints-Brice reserve team, Charles-Paul Lamy. Cédric’s stellar performance led SSBFC to put him on the first team for their 2000 season, after narrowly escaping relegation in their previous season.

If Aulnay-sous-Saintes had the stereotype of being full of impoverished people, the SSBFC had a completely opposite reputation. SSBFC is a Right-Bank Saintes football club whose supporters are typically upper middle class people and the wealthy. (Less well-off Santais usually support the Left-Bank clubs Stade de Saintes and En Avant de Saintes.) Cédric’s inclusion in the main team of a top-tier club with such a reputation aroused come criticism. A frequent comment in some SSBFC fan clubs were “What’s a boor doing in Saintes-Saints-Brice?” “Go back to En Avant de Saintes” and “SSBFC is now becoming a second-rate football club.”

“To be honest, those comments did hurt, but I didn’t really take them in much,” said Cédric. “SSBFC was my ticket out of poverty, and I have my mum and my brothers and sisters to feed and take care of.”

Cédric eventually proved his detractors wrong and helped lead Saintes-Saints-Brice to the middle of the league board for the next three seasons. His in-game heroics made him a crowd favourite, but the higher-ups were still not impressed. His performance were still not enough to win a title; most sports analysts blamed SSBFC’s recruitment practices that favoured well-off players and academy-trained youths that resulted in mediocre teammates. Indeed, veteran football analyst Marc-Aurèle Sorbon wrote in 2003 that “SSBFC’s signing of Charbonneau seems to be an experiment and a gamble that is actually paying off. I’m not sure if SSBFC has realised that. It is shameful that of the SSBFC’s players, its best player is the least paid player.”

Cédric largely spent the 2004 season on the bench after SSBFC’s failed attempts to sell him. In 2005, he was loaned to second-tier club AS Beaucaire. The 2005 season was disastrous for Saintes-Saints-Brice – it narrowly won its relegation match on overtime. Meanwhile, AS Beaucaire, with Cédric on the team, won promotion to the top tier.

The 2005 disaster caused reorganisation within SSBFC. The leadership was replaced and Lamy placed at the helm. Lamy insisted on having more freedom, control on player selection, and the introduction of newer players. Notably, he ignored the background of the players in selecting his team. With a new, younger, (and less aristocratic) team, Saintes-Saints-Brice had a good run, reaching the 2006 league championship match, only to lose to Olympique Nyonnais in overtime. It was just the beginning of Saintes-Saints-Brice’s renaissance.

With Lamy as coach, Cédric as the captain, and new blood such as Franck Giresse, Kévin Caillard, and Éric Sommereaux, Saintes-Saints-Brice won the 2007 and 2008 championships. Cédric also won the most valuable player award in 2007 and 2008. Now even the most dedicated detractors of the poor kid in the posh team were convinced. Saintes-Saints-Brice, aside from winning the 2009 championship, also never lost in any game in the season. It made Cédric and the team popular, making inroads in the Left-Bank. “His rags-to-riches story served as an inspiration for many,” wrote Sorbon in 2009, “Saintes-Saints-Brice, formerly a citadel of the genteel, is now a club for everyone.”

Cédric was also tapped for the Santonian National team while continuing to lead Saintes-Saints-Brice. SSBFC narrowly missed the 2010 title, losing the championship to Côme FC. But Saintes-Saint-Brice won again in 2011 and 2012 seasons, establishing dominance in the top tier of Santonian football.

After suffering an injury in 2014, Cédric retired from professional football and instead started coaching children from his hometown and working as a football commentator. He still lives in Aulnay-sous-Saintes, albeit in a better and larger house he bought for his family. He had invested his money in various businesses “to keep myself financially secure,” while dedicating much of his time to his charity. When Barthélemy Delcambre, the longtime MP for the 6th electoral circumscription of the Cenise, retired in 2015, Cédric decided to run. “I remember Mr. Delcambre’s assistance to our family in keeping our home, I’d like to be able to do that and help the people as well.”

In a political environment adverse to the National Party, Cédric won the nomination and the 2015 general election convincingly – garnering two-thirds of the vote. Nationals winning in the district was not in doubt, as Aulnay-sous-Saintes, being a working-class city, is a stronghold of the National Party. But Cédric’s presence on the ballot meant that Cenise-6 was one of the few districts to swing towards the Nationals that year, when much of the country swung away from the Nationals.

Cédric entered Parliament as part of the opposition, which made it harder to pass legislation. Nevertheless, Cédric managed to shepherd two of his proposals into legislation: the first one strengthening and increasing funding for schools in depressed areas, and the second one regulates evictions from homes. “Both were influenced by my childhood experiences,” Cédric said, “I told myself, no child should ever have to go through these.” Even though the Prime Minister, the Liberal and the Radical Parties opposed the legislation, Cédric managed to bring the entire National Party and the Green Party to vote for his proposals. It seems that even in Parliament, Cédric is always a winner. ●

Interview and Article by Marc-Tobias Guilbault
Translated by Jérôme-Caden Barceloux Colcolough


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National Party criticises proposed labour reforms

by Mélanie Bacrot in Saintes
21 August 2018 - 1620h

SAINTES – the National Party and its members are taking a stand against the proposed Caruhel II reforms. Acting Leader of the Opposition Marc Gaucelin (N, 2nd Chalaronne) excoriated the proposed reforms when it was introduced in Parliament yesterday. “The National Party will not allow further erosion of worker’s rights in Saintonge. This so-called ‘reform’ will only benefit the few rich to the detriment of ordinary Santonians.”

Prominent members of the National Party, which is in the midst of an election for their new leader, also chimed in. “I cannot stomach this further evisceration of our rights as workers and as Santonians,” shadow labour minister Jeanne-Élisabeth Vertières-Clérembault (N, 3rd Bouche-du-Rhâne). “This only shows that the Coalition government works for the wealthy few and not for the ordinary Santonians.”

“Caruhel II will erase the hard-won gains of our workers. What took decades for them to achieve, will be erased in one swoop. I vehemently oppose this proposal,” said deputy Anne-Douceline Courseaux (N, 21st Saine-et-Loine).

“Unions helped campaign for the eight-hour workday, paid vacation leave, overtime pay, tenure... Not only will Caruhel II curtail these benefits, it will also weaken the means by which our workers achieved these gains,” said deputy Jules-Ruben Gorges (N, 9th Cenise).

“The National Party will stand united against the Coalition’s war against the people,” thundered deputy Jean-Quentin Hamel (N, 3rd Saintes). “There will never be a repeat of 2017, when the Coalition used devious means to achieve their ends. No more.” Hamel was referring to the acts by National Assembly President Jean-Claude Arrivé, who used the scheduled leave of absence of several National deputies to pass the first tranche of reforms by Caruhel (Caruhel I) over National and Green opposition in 2017. Hamel also added some choice words for the Greens, who remained in government even after Caruhel I passed. “Shame on them if they fool you once, shame on you if you allow yourselves to be fooled twice.”

Protests planned
Matthieu-Gauvain Lamblin and Anne-Julienne Langlois, outgoing and incoming presidents of the National Youth respectively, jointly announced that National Youth chapters throughout the country will be staging solidarity rallies with the workers protesting the proposed law. The country’s largest trade union centre, the Confédération saintongeais du travail (CST, Santonian Confederation of Labour) also announced that they will be holding nonstop rallies at the Ministry of Labour until the parliamentary proposal is defeated or withdrawn.

Greens opposed
The Green Party, while technically remaining within the coalition, declared its opposition to the proposed Caruhel II reforms. Green Party leader Laurent Junot threatened that “the Green Party is not afraid to withdraw from government if our coalition partners will not stick to their promises.” The senior parties in government, the Liberals and the Radicals, had promised in 2017 not to amend Saintonge’s labour laws for the remainder of the government’s term.

translation by Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
19 August 2018 - 0844h



is useless trash

National Party congress opened today

by Héloïse Lamontagne-Riester in Nyon
31 August 2018 - 1115h

NYON (BOUCHE-DU-RHÂNE) – thousands of members and delegates of Saintonge’s largest political party have converged in the southern city of Nyon for the party’s annual congress. Attendees include all National Party members of parliament, leaders of the departmental and intendential chapters, mayors of parishes, and youth leaders.

Election for leader
The most awaited event is the election of a new leader of the National Party. Ever since Philippe Colet stepped down as leader after the electoral defeat in 2015, the National Party had struggled to fill up the leadership position, primarily due to the old guard of the party being tainted with scandals.

According to insiders and observers, there are five main contenders for the position as leader of the National Party: acting leader Marc Gaucelin of the Chalaronne, Jules-Ruben Gorges of the Cenise, Jean-Quentin Hamel of Saintes, Camille Courrégelongue of the Vesle, and Anne-Douceline Courseaux of the Saine-et-Loine.

The leadership election is scheduled for tomorrow, but endorsements have already been streaming in. 71 National Assembly deputies, about one-third of the National deputies, have endorsed Mr. Gaucelin, who is deemed to represent the old guard of the party. 12 departmental chapters have also endorsed Mr. Gaucelin, mostly in the central plains, a National Party stronghold.

Mr. Hamel, known for being the firebrand of the party, is known to be widely supported by the Confédération saintongeais du travail (CST, Santonian Confederation of Labour), the union confederation closely linked to the National Party. Mr. Hamel has the stated support of 44 National Assembly deputies. Mr. Gorges has gained the support of 30 National Assembly deputies, and 7 out of the eight departmental chapters in the Béthagne and Domnonée (Côtes-du-Nord is the exception).

Mr. Courrégelongue, a known moderate in the party, is being supported by 22 National Assembly deputies and 6 departmental chapters. Ms. Courseaux, a leader of the vocal Rénovateur faction within the party, is being supported by 7 National Assembly deputies and the departmental chapter of the Saine-et-Loine, which she used to head.

Early Controversies
Just a day before election, controversies already abound. Foremost is the leaked “Cartron Recordings”, wherein Mr. Gaucelin’s main adviser Ludovic Chaumet was recorded disparaging the other contenders as Mr. Gaucelin voiced amusement or agreement. Mr. Gorges was described as a “Bethanian wannabe who knows nothing”; Mr. Hamel was described as “breathing fire but burns himself as well”; Mr. Courrégelongue as an “also-ran, perennial nuisance candidate”; and Ms. Courseaux as “just a pretty face” and she and her National Assembly supporters as “Snow White and the seven dwarves”. Mr. Chaumet did not deny the recordings, but he did not authenticate its veracity either. Mr. Chaumet said he will be launching appropriate legal actions against the author of the recording.

Within the National Youth, the party’s youth wing, pressure is also mounting. Incoming president of the National Youth Anne-Julienne Langlois admitted that “there had been some unpleasant pressures from higher ups regarding who should our organisation support.”

Her predecessor, Matthieu-Gauvain Lamblin, also stated, “it’s scandalous. What the leadership is trying to do on the National Youth is a reflection on the reasons why the electorate turned their back on the National Party. It’s almost bordering on corruption. If they keep on doing that, the National Party may well forget being in power for the next generation.”

translation by Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
31 August 2018 - 1452h



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Courseaux wins as National Party leader

Newly-elected National Party leader Anne-Douceline Courseaux.

by Héloïse Lamontagne-Riester in Nyon
1 September 2018 - 1702h

NYON (BOUCHE-DU-RHÂNE) – In a surprise to most observers, Ms. Anne-Douceline Courseaux, a leader of the vocal Rénovateur faction, won the election as leader of the National Party in the party congress yesterday in the city of Nyon. Ms. Courseaux will be the first woman to head a major party in Saintonge.

Ms. Courseaux defeated acting leader Marc Gaucelin 2,273 votes to 1,127 in the third ballot to become the leader of the National Party. Jules-Ruben Gorges of the Cenise and Camille Courrégelongue of the Vesle were eliminated on the first ballot; and Jean-Quentin Hamel of Saintes was eliminated on the second ballot; leaving Ms. Courseaux and Mr. Gaucelin in the final round.

“Dark Horse” Candidate
Most observers were surprised by Ms. Courseaux’s win. “She came in with the least number of supporters and was expected to be eliminated on the first ballot,” said a representative from Saintes, who declined to be named. “People thought she’s too inexperienced – she had just been elected as deputy. Hence we didn’t see many National Assembly deputies supporting her.”

But her seven supporters from the National Assembly - Paul-Geoffroy Barèges of the Seudre, James-Bertéric Battiston of the Basse-Bléone, Brice-Cédric Charbonneau of the Cenise, Joëlle Duhourquet of the Saine-et-Loine, Kylian Fricoteaux of the Dropt, Marie-Lheurine Roustan-Balligand of the Tech, and Marcelline Tréhet of the Côtes-du-Nord – campaigned tirelessly for their candidate, and in the end managed to sway the majority of the 40 remaining undecided National Assembly deputies.

“Women. Ms. Courseaux appealed to women,” said Ms. Duhourquet. “Most of the 40 undecided were women. We mobilised.”

Still, Mr. Gaucelin amassed the largest number of National Assembly deputies as supporters in the first round. Ms. Courseaux came third in the first round, aided by the support of some of the largest National Party departmental chapters: that of the Saine-et-Loine (which she used to lead), the Lisle, the Puy-d’Or, the Bouche-du-Rhâne, the Sambre, and the Scyotte. She was also buoyed by the surprise support of the National Youth, particularly its leaders Anne-Julienne Langlois and Matthieu-Gauvain Lamblin. Langlois and Lamblin had previously denounced actions by the National Party leadership and threw their weight instead for Ms. Courseaux. The National Youth is also deemed close to the Rénovateur faction, with many of its ideologues being former members of the National Youth, such as Ernestine-Guenièvre Thieriot, who currently serves as Ms. Courseaux’s spokesperson.

“When the results of the first round came in, we knew that she was a dark horse candidate,” said the representative from Saintes. “She was the hope to demolish the old guard.”

Swelling of support

With Ms. Courseaux’s candidacy looking viable, other factions not favourable to Mr. Gaucelin coalesced around her. Mr. Gorges, who was surprisingly eliminated on the first ballot, urged his supporters to vote for Ms. Courseaux. Mr. Courrégelongue did likewise.

“Gorges and Courrégelongue are moderates, they will support a fellow moderate like her and not those on the extremes like Hamel,” said the representative from Saintes. “Also, Courseaux is more electable than Hamel.”

With the populous departments and about a hundred National Assembly deputies supporting Ms. Courseaux, she came at the top in the second ballot. Almost all of Mr. Gorges’ and Mr. Courrégelongue’s voters transferred to Ms. Courseaux, bringing her total higher than Mr. Gaucelin’s. Mr. Gaucelin’s numbers remained steady at a thousand votes. Mr. Hamel, placing last, was eliminated.

Mr. Hamel did not need any prodding. In his concession speech, he urged his supporters to select Ms. Courseaux and “not the dirty old guard.”

“It was really time for a change,” said the representative from Saintes. “You can feel it in the atmosphere.”

In the third round, Mr. Gaucelin remained at one thousand votes, with Ms. Courseaux picking up the votes from the remainder. In addition, the National Party members of parliament caucused after the vote to sign a letter asking the presider of the National Assembly to recognise Ms. Courseaux as the Leader of the Loyal Opposition.

In her acceptance speech, Ms. Courseaux vowed to “lustrate, renovate, and innovate” the National Party such that “the National Party becomes the party that serves the Santonians the best.”

translation by Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
01 September 2018 - 1825h



is useless trash

Caruhel II clears the National Assembly in a surprise vote

by Mélanie Bacrot in Saintes
5 February 2019 - 1655h

SAINTES – the raft of labour reforms known as Caruhel II passed the National Assembly yesterday in a nail-biting close vote, saving the Liberal-Radical-Green Coalition government of Prime Minister Jean-Louis Hauteclocque de Champtoceaux, who had turned the issue into a vote of confidence.

The draft law, introduced by Radical Labour Minister Jean-Charles Caruhel (R, 29th Saintes), contains provisions that will make it easier for employers to fire employees, cap overtime pay rates that can be negotiated by unions, add more employer representatives to departmental wage boards that set the minimum wage, and institute a “right to work” law in Saintonge. The National Party, the Green Party, and the labour sector were opposed to Caruhel II. The governing Liberal and Radical parties were for the proposal.

The vote for Caruhel II was tied, 212-212, prompting the Liberal President of the National Assembly Jean-Claude Arrivé to cast the tie-breaking vote in favour of the proposal. Despite the Green Party’s four deputies voting with the opposition to defeat the bill (and by extension, their own government), six National Party deputies were absent. The tied vote prompted outcries from the opponents of the bill.

“The National Party betrayed us,” said Environment Minister Laurent Junot (V, 1st Semois), leader of the Greens. “We had the numbers to win! And yet we lost! This is a betrayal!”

National Party leader and Leader of the Opposition Anne-Douceline Courseaux (N, 21st Saine-et-Loine) immediately convened a closed-door meeting after the vote. Her spokesperson Ernestine-Guenièvre Thieriot said afterwards that “the National Party will be instituting proceedings against the absentees if no adequate explanation is given for their unannounced absence in such a vital vote.” Ms. Thieriot then said, “we will exhaust all means to defeat this odious proposal, up to the House of Lords if necessary.”

Firebrand deputy Jean-Quentin Hamel (N, 3rd Saintes) was even more livid. “Six people betrayed us and the people of Saintonge! If Mr. Lacassagne was able to come here to support the workers, why can’t they?” Mr. Hamel was referring to deputy Mr. Jacques-Ildephonse Lacassagne (N, Huisne), who was ill with brain cancer. Mr. Lacassagne insisted on attending the vote personally, assisted by his son Thomas-Isidore. Despite not being able to speak anymore, he still registered his opposition to the proposal.

“They have no reason to be absent,” said deputy Joëlle Duhourquet (N, 4th Saine-et-Loine). “Ms. Courseaux called all 214 deputies yesterday to remind them of the vote and enjoin them to be present.”

Another deputy, Théobald Trébuchon (N, 1st Ravennes), confirmed Ms. Duhourquet’s statement. “The leader of the party called up everyone personally yesterday to remind them of the vote. She told us this is going to be a party-line vote. Vote with the party in opposing the proposal.”

Another National Party deputy, who declined to be named, also admitted that Ms. Courseaux called the deputies and “told us in no uncertain terms that we must be present at the vote and vote accordingly. Or else there’d be repercussions.”


According to the records of the Clerk of the National Assembly, all of the six National Party deputies made no prior announcement of their absence. The absentees were: Olivier Defferre (N, 2nd Lignon), Nicolas Destot (N, 4th Chalaronne), Marc Gaucelin (N, 2nd Chalaronne), Jean-Benoît Savary (N, 3rd Haute-Coole), Vincent-Michel Tourtelier (N, 2nd Tamise), and Henri-François Vaillant (N, 3rd Leir). Their critics were quick to dub them “Gaucelin’s gang”, as the five other absentees were deemed close to ousted National Party leader Marc Gaucelin. All but Destot served as shadow ministers under Gaucelin.

“Gaucelin’s gang, the old guard – clearly all they care about is themselves,” said former leader of the National Youth Matthieu-Gauvain Lamblin. “They thought they can embarrass Madame Courseaux with their antics. But all their doing is drawing the wrath of the people. They’ve put themselves before the people they purportedly serve.”

Discontent in the National Party
Many deputies voiced similar sentiments. “Clearly, it’s sour grapes,” said deputy Marie-Lheurine Roustan-Balligand (N, 1st Tech). “They were defeated in the leadership race, so they now want to sabotage the current leadership.”

“This is why, folks, the National Party is in such a mess,” deputy Brice-Cédric Charbonneau (N, 6th Cenise) posted on Twitcher. “Personal interest first before the people and the party. It will take time to purge the party of such avarice.”

“Gaucelin said a few months ago that he was opposed to Caruhel II, but now he didn’t bother showing up to vote against it?” questioned Justin-Thibault Beauvisage (N, 1st Basses-Alpes). “Were all of that just lip service?”

“Gaucelin and co. are the reason why people say politicians are fake,” remarked Pol-Rogatien Thouvenel (N, 2nd Avaloirs).

Some, though, were willing to cut them some slack. “Maybe they were really sick?” commented Édouard Lafargue (N, 2nd Luberon) in an ambush interview outside the session hall of the National Assembly. “Is their illness worse than that of Mr. Lacassagne’s? If not, they should be ashamed of themselves,” interjected another deputy, Sébastien Thévenet (N, 2nd Boëme). “What convenient timing to get sick!” was the sarcastic comment of Marcelline Tréhet (N, 2nd Côtes-du-Nord), “all six of them, too! The disease must be very contagious!”

Victory for the Coalition
In contrast to the gloomy and stormy National Party, the Liberals and Nationals were celebrating their victory. “Whatever hurdles the opposition tries to place, we just go through it,” said Mr. Caruhel. “The government believes that this proposal is for the greater good of Saintonge and Saintonge’s economy.”

“We can all say goodbye to all of those corrupt vested interests in labour,” said deputy Michel-Fernand Roux de Bézieux (L, 8th Simbruins).

“These measures will increase productivity and help stimulate our economy,” said Industry Minister Pantaléon Giraudeau (L, 2nd Sâne).

Next Steps
The proposal was sent to the House of Lords for deliberation. The discussion in the upper house is scheduled for next week.

translation by Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
05 February 2019 - 0903h



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Departmental Councils position themselves on labour reform

by Mélanie Bacrot in Saintes
11 February 2019 - 1933h

SAINTES – more than half of the departmental councils had issued explicit instructions for their representatives in the House of Lords how to vote when the labour reform proposal dubbed Caruhel II reaches the floor.

In favour
Predictably, departmental councils controlled by a coalition of Liberals and Radicals gave instructions to vote for. The departmental councils of the Basses-Alpes, the Argens, the Baltée, the Breuse, the Capoterre, the Corb, the Dyle, the Ill, the Inde, the Lac, the Lauter, the Lys, the Haute-Saine, the Sâne, the Sarine, the Tessin, and the Trieux already instructed their representatives to vote for the proposal.

However, departmental councils governed by a coalition of Liberals + Radicals + Greens were conspicuously silent. The City of Saintes and the departments of the Bouche-du-Rhâne, the Cenise, the Dropt, the Lisle, the Puy-d’Or, the Saine-et-Loine, and the Semois have not issued declarations. The departmental councils of the Basses-Brômes and the Scyotte attempted to pass resolutions of support, but both were defeated when the Greens joined the opposition Nationals.

In opposition
In contrast, 30 National-controlled departmental councils had voiced their opposition to the proposal. The first one to pass a resolution against was the departmental council of the Côtes-du-Nord, enjoining their two representatives to vote against the proposal. The most interesting declaration was from the departmental council of the Chalaronne. In its declaration issued last Friday, the Chalaronne council also rebuked its two National Party deputies, Marc Gaucelin of the second electoral circumscription and Nicolas Destot of the fourth electoral circumscription, for “being absent in the vote” and thus “depriving the people of the Chalaronne of their voice in the National Assembly.” Curiously, the council made no mention of Robert-Martin de Jeumont, the Liberal deputy for the fifth electoral circumscription who voted for Caruhel II.

Chalaronne’s declaration was mirrored by today's statements from the departmental councils of the Haute-Coole and the Tamise, which both excoriated their absentee MPs, Jean-Benoît Savary and Vincent-Michel Tourtelier, respectively.


The Liberals and Radicals together have 91 seats in the House of Lords, with the Nationals and Greens having 76. The Lords Temporal and Lords Spiritual usually do not vote on issues that do not directly involve them. If it is going to be a party-line vote, Caruhel II may have a big chance of passing. However, Green Party leader Laurent Junot and several departmental Green leaders had signalled that they are ready to activate clauses within departmental coalition agreements that give the coalition parties a veto on how their departmental representative/s in the House of Lords will vote, regardless of the representative’s actual party affiliation. The effect would be that the department’s representatives will abstain from the voting if the coalition parties do not agree on a stance. Currently, eight departments governed by a Liberal + Radical + Green coalition have this clause, controlling 24 seats in the House of Lords. If all of these representatives will abstain, Caruhel II may be defeated in the House of Lords.

When the House of Lords voted on the first tranche of labour reforms (Caruhel I) in 2017, the measure passed 72-71. The Liberal representative from the department of the Queyras ignored his departmental council’s instruction to abstain and voted for Caruhel I. As the coalition agreement in the Queyras had such a clause, the Greens withdrew from the coalition, and the Queyras government fell. As a result, the Queyras now has a National-Green coalition, the only such combination in the country. Thus, if any of the representatives of the eight departments vote contrary to their departmental council’s wishes, Caruhel II may pass the House of Lords, but at the expense of control of one or more departmental councils.

translation by Kyle MacTaggart - de Flesselles
12 February 2019 - 0835h



is useless trash

House of Lords demurs on labour reform

by Mélanie Bacrot in Saintes
15 February 2019 - 1621h

SAINTES – the closely divided House of Lords agreed to postpone debate on the controversial labour reform introduced by Labour Minister Jean-Charles Caruhel (R, 29th Saintes). Duke Timothée III of Aunis, presider of the House of Lords, removed the proposal from consideration for one month so that representatives could gather relevant instructions from their respective departmental governments.

Agreement to postpone
The agreement to postpone was brokered by Gérard d'Écu de Licorne (N, Côle), Anne-Leïla Lesdiguières (V, Semois), and Alexandre Dumonceau (L, Saine-et-Loine). The agreement to postpone passed 102-65, with the delegations of the Basses-Alpes, the Doire, and the Haute-Saine joining the departments opposed to Caruhel II and the crucial eight Coalition-controlled departments that may get to decide the ultimate fate of the proposal: the Hautes-Brômes, the Cenise, the Lisle, the Monce-et-Briance, the Puy-d’Or, the Haut-Rhâne, the Saine-et-Loine, and the Vauperté. Representatives of all eight departments have orders from their departmental councils to abstain from the final vote because of coalition agreements in their departments. Abstention of all 24 representatives from the eight departments will defeat the proposal.

The other representatives from departments with no explicit instructions followed the party line: Liberals and Radicals in favour, Nationals and Greens opposed. A party-line vote will pass the bill, but the complications from the aforementioned eight departments still leave a possibility for the bill’s defeat.

According to insiders, it was Dumonceau and the Saine-et-Loine delegation that floated the idea of postponement as a reasonable compromise. The governing tripartite Liberal-Radical-Green coalition in the departmental council of the Saine-et-Loine has a clause in their coalition agreement that gives any of the coalition parties a veto on how their departmental representatives in the House of Lords will vote. If the coalition parties do not agree on a stand, their representatives will all abstain regardless of party affiliation. Such an arrangement has been dubbed the "Barenton clause", after its first introduction in a 1969 Liberal-Radical-Green coalition government in the department of the Basse-Bléone (capital: Barenton).

A postponement will give the Saine-et-Loine (and the other seven departments) time to negotiate and await for further instructions. Intense lobbying and negotiations are underway at the national and departmental levels to “unblock” the bill at the House of Lords. Yesterday, Yves-Antoine Mittenaëre, the Liberal President of the Hautes-Brômes, lambasted the pressure allegedly from the office of Prime Minister Jean-Louis Hauteclocque de Champtoceaux to “sacrifice his department for the greater good”.

The opponents of the bill acceded to the request for postponement. “If we can postpone indefinitely, then it’s tantamount to killing the bill,” said a National Party representative, who declined to be named. “The departmental elections are coming in a few months time, who knows what’s going to happen. But it’s a calculated risk. Personally, I’d say let’s just give the people a chance to have a say on it.”

Liberal, Radical Leadership opposed to postponement
Predictably, the Liberal and Radical leadership were unhappy with the postponement. “It’s obstructionism, pure and simple,” said Prime Minister Hauteclocque de Champtoceaux. “It’s shameful some of the people in the party allow it to happen.”

“What’s the use of a majority if you’re not gonna use it?” Mr. Caruhel remarked.

Jules-César Bélisle (L, Simbruins), leader of the Liberal Party group in the House of Lords, reportedly gathered members of his caucus and berated those that voted for the postponement.

But Dumonceau was unfazed. “They think they can break us... they can’t.”

translation by Jérôme-Caden Barceloux Colcolough
16 February 2019 - 1015h



is useless trash

Greens withdraw from government

by Marie-Marthé Parmentier in Saintes
20 February 2019 - 1503h

SAINTES – Green party leaders Laurent Junot (V, 1st Semois) and Iseult Jaffrelot (V, Haut-Rhâne) announced in a press conference earlier today that the Green Party will be withdrawing from the government coalition, potentially engineering the government’s downfall and early elections.

No confidence motion underway
With the Liberals and Radicals holding only 212 seats in the 430-member National Assembly, the government of Prime Minister Jean-Louis Hauteclocque de Champtoceaux (JLHC) now has a minority in the lower house of Parliament. A vote of no confidence can easily topple the government.

Indeed, such a motion is underway. A no-confidence motion introduced by National Party leader and Leader of the Opposition Anne-Douceline Courseaux (N, 21st Saine-et-Loine) and shadow Labour Minister Jeanne-Élisabeth Vertières-Clérembault (N, 3rd Bouche-du-Rhâne) is to be voted on by the National Assembly next week. In their press conference, Junot and Jaffrelot signalled the Green Party’s intentions to vote with the opposition in the confidence motion.

Questions remain
According to analysts, despite the big mathematical possibility, the government may not fall. During the February 4 vote for the Caruhel II labour reforms, six National Party deputies were absent, leading to a tied vote. If the six deputies again absent themselves to spite Ms. Courseaux, the motion of no confidence will fail even if the Greens' four deputies vote with the National Party.

Even if the no-confidence motion carries and the JLHC government is dismissed, it is still not certain that Ms. Courseaux will be the Prime Minister. Neither Junot or Jaffrelot had signalled that the Green Party will support Ms. Courseaux in any attempt to form a government. If the National Party fails to succeed in forming a government, fresh elections may be called.

translation by Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
20 February 2019 - 1501h



is useless trash

Coalition government falls, National Assembly dissolves itself

by Marie-Marthé Parmentier in Saintes
25 February 2019 - 1725h

SAINTES – the minority Liberal-Radical government of Prime Minister Jean-Louis Hauteclocque de Champtoceaux (JLHC) lost a confidence vote in the National Assembly, leading to termination of the current government and to early elections.

Vote of no confidence
The no-confidence motion (motion de censure) was tabled by National Party leader and Leader of the Opposition Anne-Douceline Courseaux (N, 21st Saine-et-Loine) and shadow Labour Minister Jeanne-Élisabeth Vertières-Clérembault (N, 3rd Bouche-du-Rhâne). JLHC’s government was defeated 213-212, in a party-line vote. The Green Party’s four deputies joined the National Party’s 209 deputies to bring down the government. Five National Party deputies were absent. The five absent deputies were also the deputies who absented themselves in the vote for Caruhel II; only Henri-François Vaillant (N, 3rd Leir) returned to the National Assembly to cast a vote to bring down the JLHC government.

Elections to be called
In Saintonge, no-confidence motions must be accompanied by attempts to elect a new government. Ms. Courseaux unveiled a proposed government after the no-confidence motion passed. The proposed National Party government was defeated 212-208, with the four Green deputies and Mr. Vaillant abstaining from the vote. With the failure of the National Assembly to elect a new government after dismissing the current one, the National Assembly was declared dissolved and early elections will be called. The Royal Elections Institute (IRE, Institut royal des elections) will be announcing the election timetable tomorrow afternoon. According to election analysts, the IRE is most likely to schedule it together with the already-scheduled departmental and local elections on 25 May to save on costs while at the same time fulfilling the minimum twelve-week campaign period requirement between dissolution and elections. This will raise the prospect of a "Super-Election" in Saintonge when most elective positions in all levels are up for election. The last time a "Super-Election" occurred in Saintonge was in 1899.

Last-Ditch Effort for Caruhel II
When the Green Party left the government last week, Liberals and Radicals in the House of Lords attempted to pass the controversial labour reform proposal dubbed Caruhel II, despite a month-long suspension of debate agreed upon last 15 February. With the departmental elections looming, and possible early elections also looming, Jules-César Bélisle (L, Simbruins), Delegate of the Representatives, attempted on Monday to schedule an early vote before the one-month suspension has ended.

Duke Timothée III of the Aunis, presider of the House of Lords, blocked the attempt, saying that “The House of Lords has an agreement that cannot be broken.” The two other Delegates, Duke Guigues IX of the Grésivaudan for the Lords Temporal and Archbishop Sébastien Étard of Sancoins for the Lords Spiritual, also insisted on sticking to the agreement.

Caruhel II was likely to have passed the House of Lords with the scrapping of the coalition agreement in the department of the Cenise last weekend. However, all unpromulgated and pending bills and proposals expire upon dissolution of the National Assembly that has passed it. So without the vote in the House of Lords and the National Assembly now dissolved, Caruhel II is dead.

translation by Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
25 February 2019 - 1622h



is useless trash

Saintonge heading for a Super-Election

by Marie-Priscille Chambly de Gembloux in Saintes
26 February 2019 - 1635h

SAINTES – Saintonge is heading for a super-election day on the 25 May. The Royal Elections Institute (IRE, Institut royal des elections) had scheduled the parliamentary election on the same date as the already-planned departmental and local elections. This means that most elective positions in all levels are up for election on that day. The last time a "Super-Election" occurred in Saintonge was in 1899.

Parliamentary Elections
After the fall of the Liberal-Radical Coalition government of Prime Minister Jean-Louis Hauteclocque de Champtoceaux (JLHC), and the subsequent inability of the National Assembly to form a new government, the National Assembly was dissolved yesterday. The previous JLHC government remains as caretaker government.

On 25 May, all 430 seats in the National Assembly, plus a new one created for Santonians abroad, will be filled via a two-round system in electoral circumscriptions. Nomination conventions will be happening next week for the four major parties.

Preliminary polls suggest a tight race. In the latest Gallop-L'Indépendant poll held on 16-20 February (before the Greens withdrew from government), respondents were asked who are they going to vote for if an election was to be held now. The National Party was chosen by 33% of respondents, the Coalition by 32% (Liberals 22% + Radicals 10%), and the Greens by 3%. This is well within the margin of error. Of possible importance, though, is the number of undecided voters – about one-third of voters are still undecided.

Departmental Elections
Elections to all of the 89 Departmental Councils of Saintonge are scheduled on 25 May. Unlike the National Assembly, the 99 members of each departmental council are elected via proportional representation in multi-member constituencies corresponding to each intendancy of the department.

Going into the elections, 45 departmental councils are controlled by the Coalition, 43 departmental councils are controlled by the National Party, and 1 departmental council is governed by a National-Green coalition.

An extension of these departmental elections is that all 167 representatives in the House of Lords are also going to be renewed. The 167 representatives are elected by the departmental councils and the city of Saintes to represent their governments in the House of Lords. The remaining 29 members of the House of Lords are the non-elected Lords Temporal and Lords Spiritual.

Local elections
The parish councils of all of Saintonge’s parishes (communes/municipalities) are also up for elections. From the city of Saintes to the parish of Rochesaigne, Taur (population: 3), all parishes will be electing councillors, which vary in number depending on the parish’s population. The seats in the councils will be apportioned by proportional representation at-large. The exception is the city of Saintes, where each district (arrondissement) elects a number of councillors to the 99-member Saintes City Council. The parish/city councils will then elect the mayor (maire), the town’s executive.

translation by Kyle MacTaggart - de Flesselles
26 February 2019 - 2015h



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Radicals nominate candidates

by Marie-Priscille Chambly de Gembloux in Saintes
11 March 2019 - 2344h

SAINTES – the Radical Party is the first party to announce much of its candidate slate, giving it an advance advantage in campaigning. This is also reflective of the traditions of the Radical Party, wherein the leader of the party has great control over selection of candidates to Parliament, leading to quicker nominations.

Of the 36 current Radical Party members of Parliament, 28 are running for re-election. MPs Pierre-Casimir Baronne-Ducorps (1st Saintes), Éric Bastien de Lotbinière (24th Saintes), Arnaud-Timoléon Bonneparte (5th Simbruins), Jean-Georges Comté du Granrut (19th Saintes), Victor-August Langevin-Dutoit (25th Saintes), Matthieu-James Quennedey (7th Semois), and Matthieu de Sauvin (26th Saintes) are retiring from the National Assembly. The renomination of the maverick MP Charles-Ferdinand de Pontleroy (27th Saintes) was vetoed by Radical leader Georges Conté de Caunes (GCC). Mr. de Pontleroy, popular in this right-bank Saintes constituency, is known to occasionally break with the party and holds unconventional views for a Radical. Mr. de Pontleroy had not ruled out running an independent campaign or accepting a potential offer by the National Party as a candidate.

All but four of the electoral circumscriptions have now selected a candidate for the Radical Party. GCC vetoed the candidates selected by the nominating conventions for the electoral circumscriptions of Saintes-27, Basses-Brômes-9, Puy-d’Or-7, and Vercors-1. These districts will select their candidates on Thursday.

Aside from those with incumbent Radical deputies, here are some of the other districts that had selected their Radical candidates:
  • Bouche-du-Rhâne-2: Christophe-Kilian Lautier. The vice-president of the department of the Bouche-du-Rhâne and the leader of the local departmental Radical Party is mounting a serious challenge to the Nationals in this swing district.
  • Chartreuse-5: Count Marc-Berthold of Dardagny. The younger brother of Duke Guigues IX of the Grésivaudan, the Count of Dardagny had to abdicate to his son in order to run for the National Assembly. Rules prohibit members of the nobility from running for elective offices (but the nobility can vote). While much of the Santonian nobility is known to support the Radicals and Radical politics, abdications in order to run for office are rare.
  • Côle-9: Francine Letelier-Congard. The wife of longtime Courbevoie mayor Jean-Pierre Congard is running in this Liberal-held district centred in the city of Courbevoie.
  • Huisne: Donald-Jean Atout. The real estate magnate and reality TV show personality (known for his show “Tu es viré!”) had recently bought an estate in the village of Thônex-sur-Huisne. He is now intent on winning this open seat in the west.
  • Lac-2: Loïc Pierrepont de Liebig. The young heir to the chemical empire in running for this Liberal-held southern seat.
  • Haut-Rhâne: Charles-Victor de la Balme. The leader of the Radicals in the departmental council of the Haut-Rhâne is running for this department's lone seat in the National Assembly, currently held by Iseult Jaffrelot, co-chair of the Green Party.
  • Saine-et-Loine-16: Esther-Margaux Ouzon. A former porn star with a huge social media following, Ouzon is a known supporter of Radical politics and GCC. She hopes to harness her large online following into support in the ballot box.
  • Simbruins-5: Rodéric du Tertre. A controversial character in the Simbruins, the mayor of Saint-Pierre-d’Aveau has a history of resorting to force in governance and for his irreverence towards others. He is a stark contrast to the former MP for the district, Arnaud-Timoléon Bonneparte, a soft-spoken aristocrat.
  • Taur-1: Grégoire Besancenot. Like current MP Jean-Ragnebert Roch (4th Trieux), Grégoire Besancenot is another former priest who had rejected his old faith and is now very critical of the Church. Besancenot is now running under the banner of the Radical Party, which is Saintonge’s premier anticlerical party.
translation by Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
12 March 2019 - 0910h

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Liberals nominate candidates

by Mélanie Bacrot in Saintes
13 March 2019 - 2258h

SAINTES – the Liberal Party held their nomination conventions across all 430 electoral circumscriptions earlier today, completing their list of candidates for all circumscriptions. Unlike the Radical Party (and similar to the National Party), the party leader, Prime Minister Jean-Louis Hauteclocque de Champtoceaux (JLHC) does not have veto power over the decision of the nomination convention but instead has representatives and votes in the conventions.

Twenty-two Liberal incumbents are retiring: Martin-Baudouin Amblard (1st Argens), Marc-Antoine Arcamone (6th Simbruins), François Barbaroux (5th Chartreuse), Marius-Philippe Baudroit (9th Bouche-du-Rhâne), Luc-Vincent Bouin (8th Côle), Marie-Bertile Bremond-Grall (7th Bouche-du-Rhâne), Camille Bricaud (13th Saintes), Marie-Christiane Brocard (21st Saintes), Marie-Jacqueline Flinois (12th Saintes), Denis Gascard (2nd Queyras), Réjane Glotin (13th Saine-et-Loine), Edmé Horcaux (2nd Margerides), Alphonse Jupillat (4th Scyotte), Charles-Bruce Lampin (3rd Suippe), Laëtitia Mechineau-Talagrand (4th Hautes-Brômes), Maxime Melmoux (3rd Durance), Humbert Montmayeur (9th Scyotte), Anne-Juliette Monteil (6th Besbre), Guy-Laurent Moulevrier (9th Saintes), Julienne Muraire-Dussart (1st Saine-et-Loine), Olivier Radisson (1st Ill), and Marie-Arlette Rautureau (5th Saine-et-Loine).

All other 154 Liberal incumbents seeking re-election were renominated by their conventions. One incumbent almost failed to be renominated – in the 10th electoral circumscription of Saintes, the nomination convention was deadlocked between the incumbent, Yvonne-Odile Lamoureaux-Ombreuse, and Aline Guichelin, a city councillor for the arrondissement of Fourvière. Three ballots were subsequently held, all of which were tied. The tie was broken on the twelfth ballot, and Ms. Lamoureaux-Ombreuse was selected as candidate by a margin of two votes.

Aside from those with incumbent Liberal deputies, here are some of the Liberal candidates:
  • Saintes-9: Sébastien Mauconduit. The son of Saintes mayor Stéphane Mauconduit is running in this open seat previously held by Liberal MP Guy-Laurent Moulevrier.
  • Basses-Alpes-1: Jean-Thaddée Beauvisage. The election in Basses-Alpes-1 had taken a weird turn as the Liberals nominated Jude-Thaddée Beauvisage, the younger brother of the district’s National deputy, Justin-Thibault Beauvisage. Intensifying further the sibling rivalry is Justin-Thibault’s identical twin, Jérôme-Timothée Beauvisage, who declared that he would be supporting his twin over their younger brother.
  • Boëme-2: Gérald-Maxime Gavotte. Known as Saintonge’s “Cookie King”, the fourth-generation head of the eponymous biscuit and cookie company is now running in the department of his ancestral roots.
  • Basses-Brômes-2: Primerose Linné. The award-winning actress stereotyped as a villain in TV shows like Chemin des Bonnes Intentions and Marguerite Enchaînée is running in this National-held district centred around Saint-Omer.
  • Borgne-3: Marc-Ladislaus Villechaise de Condillac. Running in their ancestral department is the sixth-generation descendant of Liberal Prime Minister Louis-Casimir Villechaise de Condillac, the last Prime Minister to be censured by the Santonian National Assembly, in 1898.
  • Haut-Rhâne: Patrice Eberlé. The leader of the Liberals in the departmental council of the Haut-Rhâne is running for the lone circumscription of this department. This seat currently head by Iseult Jaffrelot, co-chair of the Green Party, is now being contested by two departmental party leaders – Eberlé of the Liberals and Charles-Victor de la Balme of the Radicals.
  • Sarine-5: Charlotte Ingrosse. The Liberal Party had recruited a star candidate in the more marginal of the two National-held seats in the Sarine. The singer, known for hits such as Femme louche and Montre moi ton amour, is running in the district covering her childhood hometown, Havey.
  • Sarine-11: Amélie Sablière-Conseillon. The Liberals are clearly gunning for a sweep in the Sarine, as they have recruited another star candidate in Amélie Sablière-Conseillon, president of the Sarine Departmental Council. She is running in the other National-held seat in the department.
  • Seudre-2: Pierre Taillée. Roanne Mayor Pierre Taillée is trying to make a jump from the city hall to the National Assembly. He is running in the district covering his city, which can give him an electoral advantage because of his pre-existing support base and organisation.
  • Tessin-4: Robert-Pierre Nolet. The Liberal president of the department of the Tessin is aiming to unseat the National incumbent in this district.

translation by Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
14 March 2019 - 0833h



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Nationals nominate candidates

by Brice-Joël Trejaut in Saintes
14 March 2019 - 1238h

SAINTES – the National Party held their nomination conventions for 430 electoral circumscriptions yesterday, completing their list of candidates for all circumscriptions. In an unprecedented scale, two dozen National Party deputies were not renominated by their district conventions. Another 47 deputies opted to retire or opted not to run again, which means that one-third of all National Party incumbents are not running for re-election.

Gaucelin, others not renominated
Former National Party leader Marc Gaucelin was the most prominent sitting deputy who was not renominated. The nomination convention for the 2nd electoral circumscription of the Chalaronne refused to renominate Gaucelin, preferring departmental councillor Marc-Christophe Matheron, a candidate of the Rénovateur faction. Matheron won over Gaucelin by a wide margin in the last round of voting in the convention.

The five other members of the so-called “Gaucelin’s gang” - Olivier Defferre (2nd Lignon), Nicolas Destot (4th Chalaronne), Jean-Benoît Savary (3rd Haute-Coole), Vincent-Michel Tourtelier (2nd Tamise), and Henri-François Vaillant (3rd Leir) – were also refused nomination in their districts.

The other deputies who were not renominated were mostly deemed close to Gaucelin – examples include Jean-Alfred Colbaud (8th Puy-d’Or), Charles-Henri Desplat (3rd Borgne), Édouard Lafargue (2nd Luberon), Jean-Marie Lespalles (2nd Loine), Denis-Marcel Proulx (1st Vercors), and Camille Tolle (2nd Saulx).

“Santonian political parties usually renominate incumbent MPs who want to run again because of the incumbent advantage,” said election analyst Brice-Gauthier Kermadec. “In any given election cycle, only a few incumbents lose in their renomination conventions, and it’s usually the scandal-riddled incumbents or underperforming ones who lose. 24 deputies not being renominated is a lot. And this does not even account for deputies who opted to retire instead of facing hostile nomination conventions.”

According to Kermadec, “The National Party seems to be purging itself. The most recent party congress gave the party leader and other stakeholders a larger voice in the nomination conventions – many of which are aligned with [National Party leader] Courseaux’s Rénovateur faction. The losers are the ancient ‘old boys’ club’ faction in the National Party. This led to very fractious nomination conventions, as the party leaders do not have a veto on who the conventions select, unlike the Radical Party.”

Indeed, many of the nomination conventions that deselected their sitting incumbents lasted into the early morning. The nomination convention for the 4th electoral circumscription of the Coole ended at seven in the morning earlier today, with Malençon mayor Brice-Archambault Coutlée winning over sitting deputy Albert-Marie Laframboise. Laframboise was a former shadow agriculture minister under Gaucelin.

New Nominations
This means that only 143 out of 214 incumbent National Party deputies, or 67%, will be running for re-election, the lowest percentage of the three largest parties in the National Assembly. Candidates under the National banner include:
  • Saintes-13: Sacha Brouillette. Ms. Brouillette will be making history as the first transgender person to run for deputy under the National Party, a party traditionally seen as close to the Church. She will be joining incumbent National deputy Nicholas-Marie Delambre (8th Lisle) and three others as the National Party’s LGBT candidates.
  • Saintes-27: Charles-Ferdinand de Pontleroy. After Radical Party leader Georges Conté de Caunes vetoed his selection for the Radical Party candidacy in this district, Mr. de Pontleroy, the incumbent Radical deputy for the district, accepted the National Party’s standing offer to run as their candidate.
  • Besbre-7: Marie-Lynette Garnier-Bessette. The popular president of this department is aiming to unseat the Liberal incumbent of this district based around the city of Bellême.
  • Capoterre-1: Kévin-Justin Montrésor. The 21-year-old social media personality and former child prodigy Kévin-Justin “K.J.” Montrésor, one of the youngest candidates this cycle, is up against a Liberal heavyweight, longtime deputy Jean-Marie de Tilly.
  • Doire-3: Timothée Vaillant. Even though the nomination convention two departments over refused to nominate his father, the younger Vaillant easily won the nomination in the district centred in Tilly-la-Campagne, the home city of his mother.
  • Lac-2: Charles-Thibault Koeberlé. The leader of the National Party in the department is running against the Liberal incumbent.
  • Haute-Loine-1: Matthieu-Gauvain Lamblin. The immediate past president of the National Youth, traditionally seen as close to Ms. Courseaux, wins the nomination in Haute-Loine-1 after the incumbent opted not to run again.
  • Nébrodes-2: Ernestine-Guenièvre Thieriot. Ms. Courseaux’s spokesperson will be running in this open seat.
  • Rance-4: Malcolm-Alan Kergomard. The son of this district’s longtime MP Jean-Pol Kergomard, the younger Kergomard will try to unseat Liberal deputy Henriette-Anne Le Bon, who defeated his father in 2015.
  • Sarine-1: Alexandre-Stachys de Beaucroissant. The ex-footballer, journalist and model Alexandre-Stachys de Beaucroissant will be running against Liberal incumbent, Culture and Sports Minister Rachel Bordier-Nadège, who is also a celebrity in her right as a former actress, singer, and TV host.

translation by Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
14 March 2019 - 1410h

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Greens nominate candidates

by Marie-Sabrine Roux-Préjean in Saintes
15 March 2019 - 0942h

SAINTES – the Green Party had released yesterday evening their candidate list for all 430 electoral circumscriptions for the upcoming elections to the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament. Despite having wide control over the selection of candidates and not holding nomination conventions, the Green Party leadership was the last of the four major parties to finalise their list.

All of the four incumbent Green deputies are running for re-election: Green party co-chairs Laurent Junot (1st Semois) and Iseult Jaffrelot (Haut-Rhâne), and Kimo-Philippe de Sabarthès (16th Saintes) and Aglaé Delcassé (18th Saintes).

New Nominations
This is only the fifth time that the Green Party is able to nominate candidates in all electoral constituencies. The Greens nominated candidates even in the central plains, where the party is historically weak due to the conservative agrarian tendencies of the area. Candidates running under the Green party include:
  • Basses-Alpes-1: Colette Audigier. Anti-nuclear power activist Colette Audigier is running in the district on a platform of closure of the area’s uranium mines.
  • Corb-7: Leïla Bizet-Guyot. Environmentalist Bizet-Guyot will attempt to bring her anti-fossil fuel platform to the National Assembly by running, perhaps ironically, in a district centred in Plaisance, the centre of the Santonian oil industry.
  • Côtes-du-Nord-2: Anaïs Garnier. Actress and social activist Anaïs Garnier will be running in the district containing her summer home.
  • Simbruins-5: Eulalie-Josephine de Cinq. A fierce critic of Roderic du Tertre, the authoritarian “iron-fist” mayor of Saint-Pierre-d’Aveau, is now running against him in the open seat in Simbruins-5.
  • Sûre-2: André de Fessenheim. Social media influencer André de Fessenheim will be running in his home district in the south.

translation by Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
15 March 2019 - 1112h



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This week's election wrap-up: Week 2

by assistant editor Anne-Marcelline de Saint-Corentin
with Kyle MacTaggart-de Flesselles and Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
24 March 2019 ~ 1024h

The election is just starting, and already there are a lot of interesting events that happened. These are this week’s most notable stories in the upcoming Santonian super-elections:

Chalaronne-2: Gaucelin attempts a comeback
TRAYES (Chalaronne) – former National Party leader Marc Gaucelin, having been deselected by his party, will try to contest Chalaronne-2 as an independent. “What they did to me is a purge, a power grab,” Mr. Gaucelin said. “It’s unfair, and I believe that the people of the second district of Chalaronne will vindicate me.” Mr. Gaucelin announced last Monday that he is launching a campaign to garner enough signatures for a space in the ballot. Electoral rules require that Mr. Gaucelin must garner 10% of valid signatures from the electorate – 19,640 in Chalaronne-2 – by 12 April in order to get ballot access.

Bouche-du-Rhâne-8: Philandering candidate
CALUIRE (Bouche-du-Rhâne) – Liberal incumbent and candidate Charles-Auger de Sacierges was accused of womanising by his wife Céline last Tuesday. Céline de Sacierges lodged a complaint at a Caluire police station, bringing along purported evidence of Mr. de Sacierges’ sexual relationships with other women in Caluire, in Nyon, and in Saintes. The charges are still being reviewed by the crown counsel’s office. Meanwhile, Mr. de Sacierges’ side called it a “smear campaign” against him instigated by the National Party.

Lignon-3: Candidate gives birth while campaigning
SAINT-ORTAIRE-SUR-LIGNON (Lignon) – the National Party incumbent and candidate for Lignon-3, Marie-Pauline Duranleau, prematurely gave birth to a baby boy while campaigning in the village of Saint-Ortaire-sur-Lignon last Wednesday. Her husband Jérôme and campaign workers quickly rushed her to the hospital in Sainte-Ursanne after her bag of waters broke while shaking hands with townsfolk. Ms. Duranleau and her son are in a stable condition. All other parties in the district suspended campaigning for three days and sent well-wishes to Ms. Duranleau and her newborn.

Saine-et-Loine-16: "Free blowj*bs for every vote"
SCEAUX (Saine-et-Loine) – last Thursday, controversial Radical candidate for this district Esther-Margaux Ouzon (a former porn star) offered free oral sex for everyone – male and female – who will vote for her in the elections and be able to prove it. The Royal Elections Institute warned Ms. Ouzon regarding her statement, as “the buying of votes is illegal.”

Saintes-10: #YOLO
SAINTES – the Liberal incumbent and candidate for Saintes-10, Yvonne-Odile Lamoureaux-Ombreuse, has appropriated the Mercanti-language hashtag #YOLO for her campaign, it also being her initials. It is yet to be seen whether the scandal-mired Lamoureaux-Ombreuse will be able to salvage her credibility with #YOLO.

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This week's election wrap-up: Week 3

by assistant editor Anne-Marcelline de Saint-Corentin
with Kyle MacTaggart-de Flesselles and Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
31 March 2019 ~ 1155h

These are this week’s most notable stories in the upcoming Santonian super-elections:

Corb-6: Testy exchange
SAINT-CÉDRIC (Corb) – President of the National Assembly Jean-Claude Arrivé, running for re-election in Corb-6, was last Monday taking in questions from an audience in Saint-Cédric when an audience member, identified as Clément Langénieux, relayed the difficulties they are having in the petroleum industry, a big industry in the Corb. The repartee escalated into a tense exchange, with the Mr. Langénieux lobbing the question “As President of the National Assembly, what have you done for the Corb? How did you use your immense powers in the legislature to make us better off, if we are indeed better off?” Videos of the event circulated in social media.

Capoterre-1: Jean-Marie de Tilly belittles opponent
GARDANNE (Capoterre) – last Tuesday, the Liberal incumbent and candidate for Capoterre-1 publicly belittled his National Party opponent, the 21-year old social media personality Kévin-Justin “K.J.” Montrésor, as “too inexperienced”, “too young”, and “not a worthy opponent” after Mr. Montrésor challenged all candidates in Capoterre-1 to a livestreamed debate. The other candidates in the district, Lenthéric Hauteroche de Ventadour (Radical) and Adrien Provencher (Green), agreed to the debate.

Monce-et-Briance-3: Candidate faceplants in the mud
BARRÊME (Monce-et-Briance) – last Wednesday, the Liberal Party incumbent and candidate for the district, Jacques-Martin Trogneux, was campaigning and posing for a photo-op in the muddy rice fields around Barrême when he tripped and fell head first into the ground. The event was caught on video and photo and became viral in social media.

Sarine-9: Squishy cheese
BÂLE (Sarine) – Radical candidate Gaillard de Lemoncourt’s newly released campaign ad elicited mixed reactions from viewers – some expressed bewilderment at the imagery, some found it hilarious to the point of inanity. Mr. de Lemoncourt’s ad had him exhorting voters to “crush the Nationals”, which then showed his bare feet squishing a wheel of Coulommiers cheese at the end. “It’s a metaphor,” Mr. de Lemoncourt had to explain, “we know who’s from Coulommiers.” If he was referring to National leader Anne-Douceline Courseaux, she is actually from Beaugency and Charny-sur-Loine. But she is a known partisan for Coulommiers cheese, since her district is part of the designated protection of origin for Coulommiers cheese.

Dronne-1: Weird insults
PARENTIS-EN-BORN (Dronne) – in what is the most unusual negative attack on a candidate this cycle, Green candidate Jean-Pierre Jacolin last Friday accused the National incumbent and candidate Marc-Archambault Tiercelin of being ‘a vampire’ and a ‘witch’. Mr. Tiercelin laughed off the accusation: “I’m surprised people still believe in vampires and witches. I’m not sure how and why was Mr. Jacolin saying that. Maybe he’s a little unhinged.”



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This week's election wrap-up: Week 4

by assistant editor Anne-Marcelline de Saint-Corentin
with Kyle MacTaggart-de Flesselles and Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
07 April 2019 ~ 0924h

The elections are heating up! These are this week’s most notable stories in the upcoming Santonian super-elections:

Aubrac-1: Radical meeting flops
ESCANECRABE (Aubrac) – the campaign rally for the Radical candidate Pierre-Roger Nesmond de Rabastens in the town of Escanecrabe flopped last Monday. Mr. Nesmond de Rabastens’ campaign booked the 500-seater local sports hall of Escanecrabe for the rally. However, less than two dozen supporters showed up, with the organisers outnumbering the supporters four-to-one. Another planned large-scale rally in Saint-Élix on Friday was subsequently cancelled.

Semois-8: Pop culture references land candidate in hot water
CHÂTELAILLON (Semois) – Liberal candidate Sophie-Émilie Baillès is in hot water after using the popular fantasy drama television series Le jeu des trônes in her campaign materials. The creators of the series disavowed any support for any political party or candidate. Meanwhile, the legal department of MBA, which owns the copyright to Le jeu des trônes, submitted a complaint to the Royal Elections Institute last Wednesday. In response, Ms. Baillès’ campaign said that what they did was a “parody”.

Nébrodes-2: Nasty campaign
SAINTE-MARIE-DES-NÉBRODES (Nébrodes) – the campaign in the open seat of Nébrodes-2 had turned nasty after both the Liberal and Radical candidates accused the National candidate, Ernestine-Guenièvre Thieriot, as a “carpetbagger” and “not really from the Nébrodes”. Ms. Thieriot, formerly the spokeswoman of National Party leader Anne-Douceline Courseaux, is from Saintes and had moved to Sainte-Marie-des-Nébrodes a few months ago. Deputies had to live within the constituencies they represent, and Ms. Thieriot moved to her husband’s hometown to run for the district.

Huisne: "You're fired!"
MEXIMIEUX (Huisne) – last Thursday, the Radical candidate for Huisne, Donald-Jean Atout, lobbed his trademark line “Tu es viré!” (“You're fired!”) at his National party opponent. The real estate magnate and reality TV show personality crossed paths with candidate Thomas-Isidore Lacassagne, the son of the district’s incumbent deputy, while campaigning in the town of Meximieux. The younger Lacassagne then wryly commented on his Twitcher account, “@vraiDonaldAtout you are not my prospective employer, the people of Huisne are.”

Dyle-2: National candidate outed
TRÈVES (Dyle) – the National candidate for Dyle-2, Henri-Adolphe Ries, was outed as a homosexual after his former lover attempted to extort money from him for their private videos. Mr. Ries had reported his ex-lover to the police, but the ex-lover released the videos on the internet. The ex-lover had since been arrested and is due to appear in court in Trèves next week.

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This week's election wrap-up: Week 5

by assistant editor Anne-Marcelline de Saint-Corentin
with Kyle MacTaggart-de Flesselles and Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
14 April 2019 ~ 1111h

From being too cool for Haute-Coole to crime-fighting candidates, these are this week’s most notable stories in the upcoming Santonian super-elections:

Haute-Coole-1: Too cool for Haute-Coole
VENTADOUR (Haute-Coole) – last Monday’s campaign sortie in the town of Ventadour in support of Laurent Cazaux (Liberal) received a cool reception in the Haute-Coole. Cazaux’ campaign brought in celebrities and endorsers who was supporting Cazaux (a former manager to artists). The inhabitants politely attended, and then silently left when the sortie was finished. “It was big on names, but lacking in substance,” said an attendee. “We were expecting policy and platforms, not glitz and glam.”

Haute-Bléone-2: Candidate accidentally hit another’s car
SAINT-JAMES (Haute-Bléone) – the car of Liberal Party incumbent and candidate for the district Jean-Marc Maisonneuve de Jammes rear-ended another car at an intersection in the centre of the village of Saint-James last Tuesday. The car in front turned out to be the car of National candidate Thibault-Frédéric Larcher, who was driving the vehicle, with his wife and three children as the passengers. Mr. Maisonneuve de Jammes and Mr. Larcher amicably agreed that Mr. Maisonneuve de Jammes will pay for the damages to Mr. Larcher’s car. Haute-Bléone police cited Mr. Maisonneuve de Jammes’ driver for reckless driving.

Haute-Saine-1: Candidate arrested for trespassing
TOURMALINE (Haute-Saine) – The Green candidate for Haute-Saine-1, Charlène Ricoul, has been arrested and booked for trespassing last Wednesday. Ms. Ricoul, along with a dozen of her supporters, trespassed on the pipeline grounds and held a protest rally against the expansion of the Trans-Santonian Pipeline in the Col de la Tourmaline. Ms. Ricoul and her supporters were booked and subsequently released on bail. They are to appear on court next week.

Saintes-3: Crime-fighting candidate
SAINTES – Liberal candidate Marc-Tancrède de Verthamon helped avert a crime while campaigning in northern Saintes last Thursday. Mr. de Verthamon was speaking on a raised podium when he noticed someone pickpocketing a member of the audience. He called out the pickpocketer on the microphone and the criminal tried to flee. Members of the audience, plus Mr. de Verthamon, made chase. A citizen’s arrest was made and the pickpocketer was turned over to the police. Mr. de Verthamon is also set to be called as a witness to the court hearing of the pickpocketer later this month.

Chalaronne-2: Gaucelin fails to gain ballot access
TRAYES (Chalaronne) – former National Party leader Marc Gaucelin, having been deselected by his party, failed to garner enough signatures by the 12 April deadline in order to be able to run as an independent. Mr. Gaucelin’s campaign was able to gather only nearly 6,000 signatures – less than a third of the target of almost twenty thousand – by the deadline. Still, Mr. Gaucelin is unfazed. “The National Party thinks they can dictate to us. I won’t be surprised if the National Party loses this district, or this department, or even the entire central plains because of this.”



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This week's election wrap-up: Week 6

by assistant editor Anne-Marcelline de Saint-Corentin
with Kyle MacTaggart-de Flesselles and Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
21 April 2019 ~ 1003h

Some of the election races took unusual turns this week. These are this week’s most notable stories in the upcoming Santonian super-elections:

Lisle-8: Candidate makes homophobic slur
NOGENT-SUR-LISLE (Lisle) – while in a campaign sortie last Monday, Liberal candidate Olivier-Raynaud Angebault called his opponent, incumbent deputy Nicholas-Marie Delambre (National) a “faggot”, a “pansy”, and a host of Santonian homophobic slurs not fit for print. Delambre, who is openly gay, condemned Angebault’s tirade. LGBT organisations, the National Party, and even Angebault’s Radical and Green party opponents condemned the Liberal candidate. The Liberal Party is set to convene next week to decide on whether to retain Angebault as its candidate in Lisle-8.

Basses-Alpes-1: Younger brother rants against older brother
ORSIÈRES (Basses-Alpes) – the Liberal candidate for Basses-Alpes-1, Jean-Thaddée Beauvisage ranted about their childhood days during a campaign sortie in Orsières last Tuesday. Accusing his older brothers of bullying, he called people in the district not to vote for his older brother, Justin-Thibault Beauvisage, the district’s incumbent and the candidate of the National Party. When reached for comment, Justin-Thibault just said, “I am saddened Thaddée thinks of us that way. I don’t remember any such event in our childhood that may have resulted in such thinking.” Justin-Thibault’s twin brother Jérôme-Timothée lambasted Jean-Thaddée for “slandering his brothers and the family”. Even their mother, Ève, joined in, asking Jean-Thaddée to “stop lying and inventing events that didn’t happen.”

Arconce-1: The wifebeater
SAINT-AFFRIQUE (Arconce) – the Radical candidate for Arconce-1, Claude-Hugues de Chavagnac, was accused of domestic abuse by his wife, Marie-Jéssica Orchampt de Chavagnac. Ms. Orchampt de Chavagnac appeared at a police station in Saint-Affrique last Wednesday with visible bruises and a broken left arm, asserting that her husband beat her in a domestic dispute. Ms. Orchampt de Chavagnac maintained that the abuse had been going on for years, but she was afraid of embarrassing their aristocratic families. Mr. de Chavagnac, meanwhile, said that his wife was “making up a story to gain sympathy”.

Authie-3: Green party candidate dies in a freak accident
MACHECOUL (Authie) – the Green party candidate for Authie-3, Jean-Marc Brélaz, died while hugging a tree last Thursday. In a protest action against logging activity in Ploemeur (Authie), Mr. Brélaz climbed a tree as it was being chopped down by chainsaws. The loggers stopped cutting the tree, but Mr. Brélaz died when the branch he was standing on snapped and he fell twenty feet to the ground. The Green Party will announce a replacement candidate next week.

Sambre-6: Vuilletet egged and floured
SAINTE-MENEHOULD (Sambre) – the Liberal incumbent and candidate for Sambre-6, Jean-Édouard Vuilletet, was egged and floured while campaigning in the centre of Sainte-Menehould last Friday. As his entourage worked their way into the city centre, workers from the historical Boulangerie Gentes threw eggs and flour at Mr. Vuilletet in protest for his part in the Caruhel I and Caruhel II labour reforms. It can be remembered that it was also the workers at Boulangerie Gentes that recognised and started the lynching of Duke Henri of Champagne in 1790, during the Santonian Revolution.

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A post-debate review of the first leader’s debate

by assistant editor Anne-Marcelline de Saint-Corentin
27 April 2019 ~ 1521h

Last night we saw the leaders of the four Santonian political parties spar on issues in the STV-l’Indépendant debate. STV analyst Jean-Barthelemy des Pallières (JBP), STV commentator Matthieu-Ferréol Vaugirault (MFV), and l’Indépendant analyst Brice-Gauthier Kermadec (BGK) assessed last Friday's debate. This summarised transcript was translated by our Mercanti translators Kyle MacTaggart-de Flesselles and Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières.

Q: Who won last night’s debate? How did the leaders perform?
MFV: Nobody. It was one humongous slagfest.
BGK: That’s typical Matthieu for you, our viewers. But I agree with the sentiment that nothing ever was really definitively discussed.
JBP: Same here. [National Party leader] Anne-Douceline Courseaux (ADC) could’ve been more forceful and resolute in her questioning and in her statements – and that’s probably her inexperience showing. This is her first leader’s debate; remember, she was just elected a deputy to the National Assembly last year and leader of the National party this year.
MFV: She was like a lame duck sitting there as the leaders of the Coalition lobbed not-so-nice words at her. They really wanted to drive home the point that the alternative to the Coalition is an inexperienced woman.
JBP: I guess she was in talk-show mode. She was a former talk show host. In talk shows, you give your guests time to respond. You don’t ask difficult and sensitive questions. You have to be respectful. Her opponents were anything but.
MFV: Yeah, but she needs to improve her debating skills if she wants her party to win. You don’t win by playing nice.
BGK: But Saintonge is known for pleasant, nice politics, isn’t it?
MFV: Yeah right, Brice, there hasn’t been civility in Santonian politics since 2014. It’s as if we’re going back to the end of the 19th century in terms of tone in politics. You have two alpha males as Liberal and Radical leaders, hammering at an inexperienced National leader and a bumbling Green leader.
BGK: Oooh, harsh assessment there from Matthieu. However, I do think that [Liberal Party leader] Jean-Louis Hauteclocque de Champtoceaux (JLHC) and [Radical Party leader] Georges Conté de Caunes (GCC) went too far with the abuse. This is anecdotal, but a lot of women I talked to after the debate were either offended or concerned about how JLHC and GCC treated ADC on stage. I’m curious as to how the polls move after the debate.
JBP: The Coalition’s strategy could backfire on them. Considering that Saintonge hasn’t elected a female Prime Minister, this is an opportunity for Saintonge to elect one. GCC’s “You woman” remark really doesn’t help.
MFV: On the other hand, JLHC and GCC did nothing but insult their way out of the debate. ADC was trying – ineffectually of course – to make points and ask questions on the Coalition’s record. JLHC and GCC bluffed their way out and ducked questions. The Coalition leaders were so full of non sequiturs, they would fail Logic 101.
BGK: I agree with Matthieu about the assessment. It seems that the two men, for all their bluffing, can’t answer a question straight.
JBP: Again, same here. Nothing was really answered. JLHC and GCC weren’t even able to ask ADC meaningful questions because their ‘questions’ were either framed as tirades or as whataboutism.
BGK: What about [Green Party leader] Laurent Junot?
MFV: Ineffectual as usual. Like how the Green Party’s been treated by the Coalition for the past four years. They’re like a soccer ball that’s just kicked around in an En Avant de Saintes game – battered and dirty but never reaches a goal.
BGK: Love your football reference. To be fair, the Greens able to push some of their agenda… well, a few.
MFV: Those few successes were only at first so that they’d come on board the Coalition in 2015. After 2016, they were simply ignored. They were even ignored in the labour reform discussions, hence this snap election.

Q: What were the issues discussed? Where did the parties position themselves and how could it potentially affect the election?
MFV: Issues? What issues? They didn’t discuss any.
BGK: The only folks who were trying to raise meaningful issues for discussion is ADC, and to a lesser extent, Junot. Which is understandable, and to some extent, expected, considering they’re the opposition. But again, the discussion leaves much to be desired.
JBP: ADC brought up some particularly important issues in my opinion, but the Coalition leaders were able to parry her line of questioning. She could’ve been more forceful in demanding answers. For example, the Caruhel I and Caruhel II labour reforms. She was asking why was there a need to reform the labour market and whether the suggested reforms were really the key.
MFV: My take home answer from the Coalition was “because we want to.” No offence meant, but that’s how it came across.
BGK: The reasons why Saintonge needed labour reform were not well-explained. I suppose it was to make Saintonge more competitive in case we start to open our markets, which was the Coalition’s goal by 2025. That was both in the Liberal and Radical manifestos in 2015, and in the previous government’s coalition agreement.
JBP: Junot had been hammering that question as well during the debate.
MFV: In 2015, Junot did sign to that coalition agreement that contained the clause that the government will undertake labour reform by 2017. Didn’t he remember that?
BGK: To be fair, the coalition agreement did not delve into the specifics of what labour reform will be undertaken. There’s evidence to suggest that the Greens thought that they will be able to kill any wide-ranging labour reform while part of the coalition government, and at the same time push for their agenda, such as killing the Trans-Santonian Pipeline [PTS] expansion.
JBP: The Coalition really bent over backwards for the Greens with the PTS expansion. Both the Liberals and Radicals are in favour of the PTS expansion, but had to cancel it in order for the Greens to get into their government.
MFV: Maybe that lulled the Greens into thinking that they can petulantly demand whatever they want.
BGK: That cancellation of the PTS expansion really has the potential to cause problems for the Coalition in their traditional bailiwicks in the south and east. I have an upcoming article regarding that in L’Indépendant, but I think the Coalition shot themselves in the foot in that one.
JBP: Brice’s column will be a great read. I like your take on things.
BGK: Why, thank you, Barth. Anyway, the official stance of the Coalition, now that the Greens are out of government, is that the PTS expansion was cancelled because there were “serious flaws” as to how the previous National government approved the expansion and “defects” in the expansion plans.
MFV: Yeah, right. They’re just saying that because 1. they no longer need the Greens because the government already fell and 2. they’re trying to salvage their position in southern and eastern Saintonge.
BGK: The signs pointing to possible problems started to appear for the Coalition when National candidates in Nyon started using the cancellation to attack the Liberal and Radical incumbents there.
JBP: Aside from the Trans-Santonian Pipeline, other issues that ADC tried to raise was laïcité. It seems that ADC was trying to drive a wedge between the Coalition parties. The Radicals are in favour of laïcité, the Liberals are opposed. The other big wedge issue for the Coalition was the Primeau Law on same-sex partnerships.
BGK: ADC cannot use the Primeau Law to drive the Liberals and Radicals apart as her own party is split on the issue. She herself is on the record in favour of same-sex partnerships, though other National Party factions, such as the Courrégelongue faction or the Gaucelin faction, are against. Hence you see no mention of same-sex partnerships in the National Party platform.
MFV: The National Party should know that driving a wedge between the Liberals and Radicals is pretty much futile. Economic issues – where the Liberals and Radicals agree on – is more important than social agenda – where the two parties have differences. I mean, look at why the JLHC government fell – it was on economic issues.
JBP: But JLHC and GCC did spar publicly on laïcité.
MFV: That’s just probably their egos. When worse comes to worst, the Liberals and the Radicals know which side of the bread is buttered on. They will prefer each other over the National Party anytime. Hence the great lengths they went to secure the Greens for the coalition government in 2015.
BGK: Also, on to other issues, ADC also tried to discuss the cuts to welfare, education, health, and science and technology funding.
MFV: Well, what else do we expect from a Coalition government? The Liberal and Radical parties’ manifesto wants to, and I quote, “reduce the size of the bloated government”. So, not unexpected.
JBP: It’s going to cost votes in the election, that I predict. Even the City of Saintes, which is governed by a Coalition government, said that the cuts greatly affected their ability to provide services. Mayor Stéphane Mauconduit had some choice words for GCC last March, plus more for Radical Interior Minister [Philippe-Rainier] de Créquy.
BGK: But no such choice words for JLHC, who is a fellow Liberal. Which is why I suspect it has something to do with the fact that many races in the city of Saintes are typically Liberal versus Radical. To be fair, it’s GCC who has been louder in pushing for more cuts, to the point that Finance Minister [Xavier-Bertrand] Vergnet, a Liberal, had to dismiss some of GCC’s suggestions.
MFV: Vergnet dismissing those suggestions is useless, considering that Social Welfare Minister [Denis-Emmanuel] d'Homme-Dieu, who is a Radical, undertook those welfare cuts anyway. Which made Vergnet happy because the Social Welfare Ministry submitted much smaller budget requests.
BGK: At least the Liberals can shift the blame for welfare cuts on the Radicals… at least partially.
JBP: Saintes, then, will be the place to watch out for if there will be any political impact.

Q: What do you think will happen in the second and final election debate?
MFV: More slagfest!
BGK: Matthieu is such a pessimist. I hope they’d finally get around to talking about the issues.
JBP: And so we hope.

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Politics in-depth
Haute-Saine: Pipeline battles threaten to hose down the Coalition

The Trans-Santonian Pipeline in the Haute-Saine.

by Brice-Gauthier Kermadec
30 April 2019 ~ 1306h

AVESNES-SUR-HELPE (Haute-Saine) – the electoral battle lines in both of Haute-Saine’s districts are drawn over positions on the expansion of the Trans-Santonian Pipeline (PTS).

The PTS carries oil, petroleum, gas, and fuel over the mountains to southern Saintonge. Proponents claim that an expansion of the PTS is vital to accommodate the increasing demands in southern Saintonge and boost the south’s economy. The main opposition to the PTS expansion is on its purported adverse environmental impacts.

Carrying petroleum products from production areas from around Plaisance on the east coast, the PTS terminates at Nyon (Bouche-du-Rhâne), Saintonge’s second-largest city. The PTS traverses the length of the department of the Haute-Saine to cross the Margeride mountains at the Col de la Tourmaline. The expansion was approved by the National government of Philippe Colet in 2014, after eight years of studies. The approval was reversed in 2015 by the Coalition government of Jean-Louis Hauteclocque de Champtoceaux (JLHC) as a concession to the Green Party, despite the Liberals and Radicals being in favour of the expansion.

Map of the Trans-Santonian pipeline
The Green Party is indeed the only party opposed to the PTS expansion. Its two candidates, Charlène Ricoul for Haute-Saine-1 and François Gaudreault for Haute-Saine-2, actively campaign against the pipeline expansion. Last month, Ms. Ricoul held a trespass-protest-campaign rally in a section of the pipeline at the Col de la Tourmaline. Police had to remove them forcibly from the pipeline grounds.

The National Party, the Liberal Party, and the Radical Party are all in favour of the expansion. The Liberal Party is in favour because of the economic case to be made for southern Saintonge, one of its main electoral strongholds. The Radical Party is also in favour because of the benefits it could bring to the economically-depressed but oil industry-dependent areas around Plaisance (Corb) and Côme (Simbruins), which mainly supports Radicals.

The National Party is in favour because the expansion is a popular proposition and it was a National Party government that approved it. Moreover, the Nationals are now using the JLHC government’s cancellation of the PTS expansion as a potent electoral weapon against the Coalition in districts all across southern and eastern Saintonge. Witness the rhetoric in districts such as Bouche-du-Rhâne-7 in the south, where National candidate Baldéric Dillon Carême tries to associate the Liberal incumbent Thierry Vercoutre with the Coalition’s government’s decision to cancel the PTS expansion – widely blamed in the south as the reason for higher gas prices there than in the rest of Saintonge. Or look at Corb-6 in the east, in which National candidate Joshua-Nathanaël Clouatre called its incumbent, the Liberal President of the National Assembly Jean-Claude Arrivé, “impotent” as “he did not lift a finger to push for something that would’ve improved our economy.”

The pipeline issue is potent even in the Haute-Saine, whose Coalition-controlled government passed a resolution against the PTS expansion as a backstop for the Coalition in case a National-led Santonian government comes to power. It is the only department out of the ten where the pipeline passes through (all Coalition-controlled) that passed such a resolution. In Haute-Saine-2, National candidate Denis-Ethan Delaveau hammered Commerce Minister Théodore Prêcheur (Liberal) for not doing enough to make the project go forward and provide the benefits and jobs for the Haute-Saine: “What good is a Commerce Minister if he fails to stop eco-saboteurs from choking commerce within the country? The Haute-Saine is asking that question, Nyon is asking that question, Plaisance is asking that question, the entirety of Saintonge is asking that question!”

From the most recent polls, voters in the Haute-Saine, much like in the other departments where the PTS passes through (such as the Breuse, the Margerides, and the Argens), are more concerned about the economic potential of the pipeline than the potential for environmental disaster. It also showed in the campaigns throughout the department. When Ms. Ricoul tried to campaign in the centre of Jumièges last Friday, she was jeered and heckled by some of the townsfolk.

The issue may also potentially make an impact in the departmental elections. The Haute-Saine is a strongly Liberal department, having been led by the Liberals or a Liberal-Radical coalition since 1929. The most recent polls also show that the Coalition is in danger of losing their majority in the departmental council of the Haute-Saine, with the Coalition and Nationals tied at 40%. Expect an exciting election in the Haute-Saine, with possible ripple effects in southern and eastern Saintonge.

translation by Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
304 April 2019 - 1622h

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A Short Guide to Santonian General Elections

Example of the white ballot paper for
the National Assembly elections.

Example of the grey ballot paper for
the departmental elections.

Example of the pink ballot paper for
the municipal elections.

by Anne-Marcelline de Saint-Corentin and Kyle MacTaggart-de Flesselles
3 May 2019 ~ 1105h

Saintonge’s super-election is coming, and there is a dizzying array of positions to be filled and multiple candidates trying to win your vote. So, how do you vote and how are the winners determined?

Before the vote

If you’re a Santonian citizen 18 years old and above, you are required to vote. Voting is compulsory in Saintonge, so you must show up at the polling places on 25 May. Failure to do so risks a fine of ₤100; if you ignore that, you get a court hearing and even bigger penalties. The Royal Elections Institute (Institut royal des elections, IRE), which administers the elections, and the local governments are obligated to make voting accessible – so many local governments will give free rides to polling places.

The IRE will mail you instructions on how to vote two weeks before the election. Included there will be your polling precinct and polling place. Alternatively, the IRE’s website and app (there is an app!) has a precinct finder for you. You will also know which electoral circumscription you are in, and the people running for elective positions in your place.

On the day of election, proceed to your polling place and look for your polling precinct. Go to the election officer and present any valid identification (national ID card, drivers’ licence, passport). The election officer will verify your identity. Once verified, you will be asked to sign on the voter’s rolls and get your right thumbprint. These are important – these will record that you have participated in the elections.

The election officer will then give you three ballot papers – yes, three. This is a super-election, so there are many positions up for grabs, and so many ballot papers!
  • The white ballot paper will be for the National Assembly elections.
  • The grey ballot paper will be for the Departmental Council elections. (Voters in the City of Saintes will not get these ballots.)
  • The pink ballot paper will be for the local/municipal elections.
As an additional security feature, the election officer (fonctionnaire électoral) has to sign your ballot papers before giving it to you – make sure the ballot is signed or the ballot will be invalid!

Proceed to a vacant booth and shade the circle corresponding to your choice. Shade only one choice on each ballot paper. If you don’t like any, you may opt not to shade anything – the counting machine will still accept your ballot.

After making your choice, proceed to any of the counting machines. Insert your ballots, one at a time, at the top, similar to putting a banknote in a vending machine. The counting machine will then read your ballot and print a ticket for each one. Take the tickets and verify what the machine counted is indeed your vote. Afterwards, discard the tickets in the provided bins. You’re done voting!

After the vote, a.k.a. who wins?
The winners in each election are determined differently.

National Assembly
For the National Assembly elections, each electoral constituency elects one deputy in a two-round voting system. The white ballot papers will display the name of the candidate and their party affiliation. The first round is on 25 May. If any candidate gathers 50% or more of the vote, s/he is deemed elected in the first round. Otherwise, the top two candidates will proceed to the second round, or runoff vote, scheduled for 22 June. Whoever gets more votes in the second round is the winner.

Departmental Council
For the Departmental Council elections, each of the intendancies count as one constituency. Each intendancy sends at least one (usually more) councillors to the departmental council. The grey ballot paper will contain the party and their list of candidates in your intendancy – the number of candidates in the lists is equal to the number of councillors allotted to your intendancy. You vote for the party and their accompanying list, not for individuals.

Afterwards, votes for the departmental council are tallied by intendancy. Seats are distributed to parties via the d’Hondt method of proportional representation. Candidates at the top of the lists are the first to be seated.

As a note, the City of Saintes, not being part of any department, does not have a departmental council and voters there will not receive any grey ballot paper.

Local Elections
For the local elections, the pink ballot papers will contain the name of the party and their candidate for mayor. The candidate list for the parish/town/city councils are not included. You vote for the party and their mayoral candidate.

Afterwards, votes for the local councils are tallied and the local councils seats are distributed to the parties via the d’Hondt method as well.

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This week's election wrap-up: Week 9

by assistant editor Anne-Marcelline de Saint-Corentin
with Kyle MacTaggart-de Flesselles and Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
12 May 2019 ~ 0924h

Either you're singing or you're banned from singing - these are this week’s most notable stories in the upcoming Santonian super-elections:

Taur-1: Accusations of Satanic music
CASTRES (Taur) – roles were turned upside down in the open seat of Taur-1, all the more made glaring when on Monday, the Radical candidate Grégoire Besancenot accused the National candidate Jourdain Clairault of being a “demonic Satanist”, pointing to Clairault’s past as the hardcore vocalist of the symphonic metal band Frontières sacrées. “Clairault used to make Satanic music,” Besancenot claimed to an audience in Castres, and then played Frontières sacrées’ song Crête du désespéré, which featured Clairault’s death grunts. Besancenot might have been banking on winning some votes in this very conservative constituency when the National Party selected an unusual candidate. Last Tuesday, Clairault shot back, saying that “it’s funny that an anti-clerical ex-priest who admits he ‘doesn’t believe in God’ is the one accusing me of being Satanic.” Besancenot is former priest who had rejected his old faith and is now very critical of the Church. But Clairault was not done yet – last Thursday he commented, “Maybe if he listened to the lyrics of Crête du désespéré, he would have a better grasp of what I do, what the song means, and how significant it is. Or maybe our song Raillerie de dieu, that’s more appropriate for him.” The song Crête du désespéré (“Ridge of the despondent”) is about suicide and trying to get out of the vicious cycle of depression; the song Raillerie de dieu (“Mockery of god”) is a song lambasting self-righteous, holier-than-thou individuals who are hypocritical and depraved inside.

Lisle-10: LaPlume insults her constituents
BAR-SUR-LISLE (Lisle) – the Liberal incumbent and candidate for Lisle-10, Marine LaPlume, was mired in controversy after she said that voters in her district “a bunch of dumb farmers who will vote for anyone as long as it’s a Liberal.” She was overheard after campaigning last Tuesday in a town meeting in Bar-sur-Lisle, not realising that the microphone was still turned on. Initially, LaPlume’s campaign tried to deny the event, but the mayor of Bar-sur-Lisle, a Liberal and also present at the event, then publicly slammed Ms. LaPlume for insulting his constituents and then lying about it.

Argens-1: Grenade explodes
COXYDE (Argens) – the Liberal incumbent and candidate in Argens-1, Simon-Daniel de Grenade, last Wednesday had an angry outburst at a town meeting event in Coxyde, a village outside Saint-Trond. An attendee, identified as Arthur-Baudouin de Bourlemont, badgered and constantly asked the candidate questions regarding his record on jobs, worker’s protections, and the pipeline. After too many passionate questions lobbed at him, Mr. de Grenade exploded: “Shut up! Shut up! Is there anybody else here in Coxyde able to ask questions? Get him out of here!”

Dropt-1: Killing the music
BRIENNE (Dropt) – the Royal Elections Institute (IRE) last Thursday dismissed Radical candidate Jacques-Marc Castex’ complaint that the National incumbent and candidate Kylian Fricoteaux (a.k.a. DJ Kyle Freako) bought votes by holding an impromptu, free concert during a campaign sortie in the city of Brienne last month. The IRE dismissed Mr. Castex’ complaint was ‘baseless’ and ‘ridiculous’. The IRE’s decision said in part: “If the candidate (or anyone else) sings while campaigning, by Mr. Castex’ reasoning, it counts as a free concert and therefore vote-buying. It’s baseless, it’s ridiculous, and it’s killing the music.” On a more serious note, the IRE's decision noted that Mr. Fricoteaux exhibited his talents “without forcing or transacting with everyone attending or listening to vote for him, which is a critical element in vote-buying.”

Saine-et-Loine-16: “I’ll stop baring my body if I lose”
SCEAUX (Saine-et-Loine) – controversial Radical candidate for this district Esther-Margaux Ouzon, a former porn star, threatened to shop showing her breasts and body if she loses election. In last Friday’s post in her blog and social media accounts, Ms. Ouzon promised “free pictures” to everyone if she wins, but “she will stop presenting her body for your enjoyment” if she loses.



is useless trash

This week's election wrap-up: Week 10

by assistant editor Anne-Marcelline de Saint-Corentin
with Kyle MacTaggart-de Flesselles and Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
19 May 2019 ~ 0845h

We're now at the home stretch of the Santonian elections, and we still haven't gotten around to the second election debate. On the ground, though, these are this week’s most notable stories in the upcoming Santonian super-elections:

Saine-et-Loine-16: Candidate calls for sex strike
SCEAUX (Saine-et-Loine) – last Monday, controversial Radical candidate Esther-Margaux Ouzon, a former porn star, called for men to have a "sex strike" - refuse sexual activity to their wives or girlfriends if they don't vote for the Radicals. Obviously pertaining to the National Party, Ouzon said, "having a woman as a candidate doesn't make them pro-women." She then continued, "give the best gift to her - vote Radical."

Vercors-2: Green candidate accused of “misanthropy”
RHÊMES (Vercors) – The Liberal candidate for Vercors-2, Jean-Luc Sirieix, accused the Green candidate Albert-Arnaud Godet of “misanthropy” and “hatred for humanity” after digging up some of Godet’s old social media posts. In some of those posts, Godet called humanity “worst plague” and “cancer on the face of the earth” because of the anthropogenic environmental damage and species extinction. Another publicised post had Godet calling for the “extermination of humans” to “restore the earth”. Sirieix had some choice words for Godet: “If Monsieur Godet thinks that humans had to be exterminated, let him start with himself!” – a remark that had also drawn criticism from the other candidates. Sirieix also added, “this guy thinks you’re a plague and a malignancy. Do you really think he’s running to serve you?”

Simbruins-5: Du Tertre indicted before the court
TERRACINE (Simbruins) – the controversial mayor of the Saint-Pierre-d’Aveau (Simbruins) and the Radical candidate for the open seat of Simbruins-5, Rodéric du Tertre, was indicted by the crown counsel last Wednesday for physical assault resulting in injuries after he ordered the forceful eviction of a panhandler and a busker from town limits last March. The case is now pending before the court of first instance of Terracine, but meanwhile, Mr. du Tertre is still allowed to run in the elections.

Dyle-1: Candidate collapses from campaigning
SAINTE-RADEGONDE (Dyle) – The National candidate for Dyle-1, Brice-Eugène Guerrière-Verne, had to be rushed to the hospital last Thursday after collapsing from heat exhaustion after personally campaigning in the town of Sainte-Radegonde. The 21-year-old’s condition was declared ‘stable’ that night. Last Friday, Guerrière-Verne, who proudly says that he had “knocked on thousands of door during the campaign”, intends to resume campaigning next week.

Côle-9: Radical candidate endorses the Liberal candidate
COURBEVOIE (Côle) – the Radical candidate for the district, Francine Letelier-Congard, essentially abandoned her candidacy last Friday after calling her supporters to vote for the Liberal incumbent candidate, Agriculture Minister François-Benoît Poutou. Jean-Pierre Congard, the Radical mayor of Courbevoie and Ms. Letelier-Congard’s husband, spearheaded a campaign to boost Mr. Poutou after polls showed him in danger of losing to National candidate Marc-Childéric Perrault.



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Santonians go to polls in the closest election in decades

by Anne-Marcelline de Saint-Corentin
25 May 2019 - 0815h

SAINTES – Saintonge’s 93 million voters are voting in the closest Parliamentary election in decades – and with concomitant departmental and local elections as well.

The most recent polls showed a neck-to-neck race, with the l’Indépendant-Gallop poll held last 16-19 May showing the National Party at 41%, the Coalition at 40% (Liberals 27% + Radicals 13%), and the Greens at 4%. Margin of error was ±2%. Santonian law prohibits polling and their publication during the three days before the election, and so the effect of the leaders’ debate last Monday may not be seen until the final result. Most projections based on the latest polls predict a hung National Assembly.

Polling stations throughout Saintonge will remain open until 8 in the evening. Counting will commence at 9 in the evening, with results coming in throughout the night. l’Indépendant will be having its first Mecanti-language live blog of the elections here.

Aside from the parliamentary elections, Santonians are also voting for departmental councils and local councils, making this a so-called “super-election”. It is not known whether the closeness of the parliamentary election will affect the departmental and local elections. For more than a century, Santonian parliamentary elections had been held in a different year than the departmental and local elections. According to election analyst Brice-Gauthier Kermadec, “the departmental and local elections are usually based around local issues. However, in several instances, such as in 2014, 1984, and 1974, the departmental and local elections had been a strong barometer of the subsequent parliamentary election next year. But with them occurring in the same date, the effect may be magnified.”

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Big win for the National Party
Saintonge on course to have its first female Prime Minister

by Anne-Marcelline de Saint-Corentin
26 May 2019 - 0623h

SAINTES – The National Party won the National Assembly in the first round of elections, in what is being seen as one of the worst defeats of a sitting Santonian government in recent history. With 305 out of the 431 National Assembly seats declaring a winner in the first round, the Nationals won 282 seats, an absolute majority and five seats short of a two-thirds majority. The last time the National Assembly was won in the first round was in 1985.

The governing Coalition was decimated, with the Liberals winning only 17 seats in the first round and the Radicals 6. A further 126 seats will head to the second round on 22 June.

The National win meant that National Party leader Anne-Douceline Courseaux is expected to become Prime Minister, the first woman to hold the post.

Vote Share
At 90% turnout, the National Party captured the majority of the first-round vote, with 52% of the votes or 43.9 million out of the 84 million cast. The last time the National Party achieved a majority of votes in the first round was in 1985. The nationwide swing towards the Nationals was 11 points.

The Liberals took only 28% of the vote, the Radicals 14%, and the Greens got only 6%. All three parties had seen their vote share decrease.

Seat Changes
The Nationals retained all but two of their current seats in the first round; Sarine-5 and Semois-8 are the only National-held seats that will head to the runoff. The Nationals won 70 seats from the Coalition outright.

Prime Minister Jean-Louis Hauteclocque de Champtoceaux’s Liberals retained only 16 seats in the first round. The Liberals lost 68 seats to the Nationals in the first round. 92 more seats will head to the second round, all against the Nationals. The Liberals, though, won the newly-created seat for Santonians abroad.

The Radicals, meanwhile, retained only 6 seats in the first round, while losing 8 seats. 22 seats will head to the second round, all but one against the Nationals. The runoff in Corb-7 will feature the Radical incumbent against the Liberal challenger, the only such pairing in the second round. Radical Leader Georges Conté de Caunes was even forced to a runoff in his longtime seat of Capoterre-4.

All of the Greens’ four seats will head to the second round, all of which will feature a matchup between the Greens and the Nationals.

Six seats will go to the second round without the incumbent’s party: Saintes-1, Saintes-19, Saintes-24, Saintes-25, Saintes-26, and Simbruins-5. All were previously held by the Radicals.

Seat Changes
Many high-profile ministers and deputies lost their election in the first round. Five Liberal ministers, Agriculture & Food Minister François-Benoît Poutou (L, Côle-9), Culture & Sports Minister Rachel Bordier-Nadège (L, Sarine-1), Foreign Minister Paul-Ignace Daudigny (L, Saintes-8), Health Minister Jeanne-Pauline Guérin (L, Chartreuse-2), and Science & Technology Minister Oscar Sauvage (L, Queyras-2), lost their seats.

Also losing their seats were the parliamentary caucus leader of the Liberals, Geoffroy de Saint-Astier (L, Trieux-1), and the longest-serving member of Parliament, Jean-Joseph Lamarque (L, Dyle-1).

One of the surprise moments in yesterday’s election was the loss of the President of the National Assembly Jean-Claude Arrivé in his constituency of Corb-6. The last President of the National Assembly to be defeated in a parliamentary election was Théophile Laffitte in 1834.

In addition, 11 government ministers will also have to defend their seats in the second round of election, giving the Coalition the prospect of losing many more frontbench members.

House of Lords in National control
After winning the majority of seats in 60 departmental councils, the National Party also looks set to control the House of Lords, with a possible 104 seats. More seats may be added as the hung departmental councils decide on their governmental coalitions next month. Majority in the House of Lords is 98 seats.

Bucking the Polls
The vote result was in stark contrast to the pre-election polls, which showed only a slight National advantage of 1-3%, well within the margin of error. However, most of these polls showed about 14%-16% undecided voters. According to exit polls, these late-deciding voters broke heavily in favour of the National Party.

In a speech at the National Party headquarters last night, Ms. Courseaux thanked Santonians for their trust in her and in the National Party. She exhorted the voters to vote in the second round as well.

Liberal leader and Prime Minister Jean-Louis Hauteclocque de Champtoceaux also resigned last night. He will be issuing a statement later today. Radical leader Georges Conté de Caunes had not released any official statement as of press time.

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is useless trash

National Party makes gains in the local elections

by Anne-Marcelline de Saint-Corentin
26 May 2019 - 0710h

SAINTES – riding on its win in the National Assembly elections, the National Party also made many gains in the concurrently-held departmental and local elections.
Results of the Departmental Elections

National Party majority
Basses-Alpes, Hautes-Alpes, Basses-Andes,
Hautes-Andes, Arconce, Aubrac, Aulne
Aure, Authie, Avaloirs, Besbre,
Basse-Bléone, Boëme, Borgne, Bourbre,
Hautes-Brômes, Cenise, Chalaronne,
Chartreuse, Côle, Coole, Haute-Coole,
Côtes-du-Nord, Dronne, Dropt, Durance,
Epte, Huisne, Leir, Lignon, Limagne, Lisle,
Loine, Haute-Loine, Loing, Luberon,
Margerides, Monce-et-Briance, Nébrodes,
Ource, Puy-d'Or, Queyras, Rance, Ravennes,
Rhue, Roer, Haute-Saine, Saine-et-Loine,
Saulx, Sambre, Scyotte, Sée, Seudre,
Suippe, Tamise, Taur, Tech, Tessin, Vercors,
Vesle, Yerres

Coalition majority
Argens, Capoterre, Haine, Inde, Lauter,
Sâne, Sarine, Sebre, Simbruins, Sûre,
Tage, Trieux

No overall majority
Arc, Baltée, Haute-Bléone, Bouche-du-Rhâne,
Breuse, Basses-Brômes, Corb, Doire,
Dyle, Ill, Lac, Lys, Haut-Rhâne, Semois,
Vauperté, Vôges
Departmental Elections
The Nationals retained all 45 departmental councils that they controlled before the elections. Six departments (the Boëme, the Margerides, the Monce-et-Briance, the Puy-d’Or, the Scyotte, and the Tessin) emerged from a hung council to a National-controlled council. A further eleven departments (the Basses-Alpes, the Hautes-Alpes, the Hautes-Brômes, the Cenise, the Chartreuse, the Dropt, the Lisle, the Haute-Saine, the Saine-et-Loine, the Sambre, and the Suippe) shifted from Coalition control to National control. Winning the biggest prize, the Saine-et-Loine, the home department of Prime Minister candidate Anne-Douceline Courseaux, enabled the National Party to gain control of the House of Lords.

Aside from losing control of the aforementioned 11 departmental councils to the Nationals, the Coalition may also lose control of 15 departments that elected hung councils. The next governments of these departments will depend on negotiations between the parties in their respective departmental councils. The lone Green-controlled department of the Haut-Rhâne also elected a hung council.

This meant that the Coalition is sure to control only 12 departmental councils, mostly in the south and east.

Local Elections
The mayoral elections for the capital resulted in a Saintes City Council with no party having overall control. The Nationals emerged as the largest group in the 99-member council, with 43 seats. Incumbent Mayor Stéphane Mauconduit’s Liberals won 33 seats. The Radicals won 14 seats and Greens won 9.

Main cities
In the country’s top 30 cities in terms of population, the National Party also gained ground. Traditionally weak in urban areas, the National Party retained control of the mairies of Aulnay-sous-Saintes, Villeurbanne (Cenise), and Taillebourg (Saine-et-Loine). Eight cities also turfed out their Coalition mayor to elect a National mayor: Sancoins, St-Océan (Cenise), Plaisance (Corb), Nogent/Lisle (Lisle), Béthanie (Rance), Bicêtre, Lanthenay, and Surgères (Saine-et-Loine).

Aside from Saintes, the elections also resulted in 10 cities having hung city councils: Novale (Basses-Alpes), the country’s second largest city Nyon (Bouche-du-Rhâne), Beaune (Côle), Torcy-le-Grand (Lisle), Provins (Puy-d’Or), Trappes (Sambre), Aubeterre (Scyotte), Aix-en-Aunis, Lohan, (Semois), and Aurigny (Seudre). All but one have incumbent Coalition mayors; the city of Lohan has a Green Party mayor.

This meant that the Coalition retained only the mayoralty of 9 out of the 30 largest cities: Brive (Basses-Brômes), Loudun (Doire), Coire (Haine), Ratisbonne (Lauter), Royan (Saine-et-Loine), Bâle (Sarine), Santerre (Semois), Côme (Simbruins), and Mirande (Tage).

Other Towns
The spate of National wins at the local level was more pronounced in lesser-populated towns and minor cities. Many small cities that had been governed by the Coalition for years had now elected National mayors. Examples were Arthus (Argens), Bellême (Besbre), Courbevoie (Côle), Saint-Cédric (Corb), Senlis, Villefranche-en-Champagne (Dropt), Valence (Durance), Jarrie (Lisle), Beauséjour (Rhue), Sainte-Menehould (Sambre), Livourne, Terracine (Simbruins), and Pérouse (Suippe).

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is useless trash

Politics in-depth
Analysis of the Santonian Parliamentary Elections: Part 1 (First Round Results)

by Brice-Gauthier Kermadec
31 May 2019 ~ 1122h

The National Party, with the newcomer Ms. Anne-Douceline Courseaux at the helm, won a stunning upset victory in the first round of the 2019 Santonian parliamentary elections. Defying pre-election polls which showed a statistical tie between her Nationals and the Liberal-Radical Coalition, the National Party won the National Assembly in the first round with a majority of votes. For comparison, the last time the National Assembly was won in the first round and the last time a party took a majority of votes in the first round of parliamentary elections was in 1985.

Status of the National Assembly after the first round of the 2019 parliamentary elections. Red = National Party; Blue = Liberal Party; Yellow = Radical Party; Grey = Seats heading to the runoff election.

With 305 out of the 431 National Assembly seats declaring a winner in the first round, the Nationals won 282 seats, an absolute majority and five seats short of a two-thirds majority. The governing Coalition of the Liberals and Radicals won only 23 (Liberals 17, Radicals 6). The Greens did not win any seat in the first round. The remaining 126 seats will elect their deputy in the second round/runoff election on 22 June.

Nationwide swing
As measured from the first round in 2015, the nationwide swing towards the National Party was 11 points, although this swing was not uniform throughout Saintonge. The largest swings towards the Nationals were in Lisle-10 (23.1%), Scyotte-8 (20.3%), Corb-6 (19.2%), Tage-1 (19.8%), and Bouche-du-Rhâne-8 (19.0%). However, two dozen seats moved away from the Nationals with small swings. The largest such swings were in Chalaronne-2 (15.4%), Chalaronne-4 (8.7%), and Tamise-3 (7.5%) – these being among the seats in which the National incumbents were deselected by the party. However, such swings against the Nationals in those two dozen seats were not enough to flip any of them or send any of them to the runoff.

Overall, 296 seats had swings towards the Nationals, even those that they won overwhelmingly in the previous elections: Brice-Cédric Charbonneau’s Cenise-6 even registered a 12.3% swing towards the Nationals from a high of 68% in 2015!

Exit Polls
L’Indépendant and Gallop conducted an exit poll of voters from 27-28 May 2019. The findings are seen below.

Exit polls show the Nationals winning both men and women, but with a striking gender gap. The Nationals narrowly won over the Coalition among men, 48%-47%. Among women, the National lead was over 20%: 58% for the Nationals and 36% for the Coalition. The ten-point gender gap (Nationals 48% among men and 58% among women) is the largest in Saintonge ever since detailed exit polls were made. This may be partly due to the excitement over the possibility of the first woman to be elected prime minister, in addition to the Nationals especially appealing and campaigning towards women.

Interestingly, another gender gap is present: Radical vote is 19% among men and 8% among women, a slightly larger gender gap than the Nationals. The existence of a gender gap in the Radical vote is not new, but this wide gap is unusual.

The Nationals won a majority or a plurality of votes among all income classes. With the Liberals and Radicals taken together, the Nationals won a majority in those earning less than £40K per year, £40K-£50K per year, and £50K-£60K per year. These income brackets hold two-thirds of the Santonian electorate. Those earning £60K-£70K per year also broke for the Nationals by a plurality: 48% for the Nationals and 47% for the Coalition. The Nationals only lost the bracket whose income is more than £70K per year: 42% for the Nationals and 55% for the Coalition.

The Nationals also won a majority in voters who had finished only secondary education, vocational education, and those with some tertiary education. Among voters with tertiary education, the Nationals nearly got a majority, 49%, versus the Coalition’s 47%. Losses in this big segment that traditionally votes Coalition led to the collapse of the Coalition’s vote. Those with higher than tertiary education, another traditionally Coalition-voting segment, was also lukewarm in its support: 44% for the Nationals and 45% for the Coalition.

All of these indicate a collapse of Coalition support and a surge in National support. But such a result was undetected in the pre-election polls.

The exit poll gives the answer. Before the election, the Nationals and Coalition were tied 41%-40%, with around 15% of voters undecided. In the exit poll, respondents were asked when did they make up their mind on who to vote. The late-deciders (those who decided the week before the elections) broke heavily for the Nationals, with 75% preferring the Nationals. This contributed to the National surge that was undetected by the pre-election polls.

The late-deciders may have been influenced by Ms. Courseaux’s good performance in the second debate on 20 May – within the final week of the campaign when pre-election polling is forbidden by Santonian law. Numerous scandals involving the Coalition also appeared during the last week of the election, such as Justice Minister Joseph-Humbert Frotland’s implication in an influence-peddling scandal.

Left - Results of the 2015 election. Right - Seat status after the first round of the election. Red = National Party; Blue = Liberal Party; Yellow = Radical Party; Green = Green Party; White = Seats heading to the runoff election. Click the images to enlarge.

Electoral Geography
The Nationals picked up marginal seats in provincial towns and made inroads in traditionally Coalition areas. The northwest and the west remained moored in their National preferences. The central plains, for all the bluster of disgraced National leader Marc Gaucelin, did not budge from the Nationals.

The Loine and Saine valleys became redder as the Nationals picked up mixed urban-rural seats such as Doire-2, Dropt-7, Epte-3, Scyotte-4, and Scyotte-9. In such seats, the urban part of the seat voted less strongly for the Coalition (or gave the Nationals a plurality/majority) which allowed the rural areas to tilt the balance in favour of the Nationals.

Seats centred in provincial towns, such as Besbre-7 (Bellême), Dropt-10 (Senlis), Rhue-4 (Beauséjour), Roer-2 (Givet), and Sambre-6 (Sainte-Menehould), also were won by the Nationals as their towns lurched towards the Nationals in both the local and parliamentary elections.

The Nationals made inroads in traditionally Coalition areas in the east, the south, the southeast, and the Saintes metropolitan area. The departments south of the central mountains swung 18% towards the Nationals. In 2015, the Nationals won only 8 out of the 56 seats in the area, of which, only one (Bouche-du-Rhâne-10) was won in the first round. In 2019, the Nationals won 18 in the first round and is in the running for 28 more. To illustrate the swing of the south to the Nationals, in 2015 the Nationals did not win the majority of first-round votes in any of the departments there; in 2019, the Nationals won the majority of the first-round votes in the Bouche-du-Rhâne (the largest in the area), the Hautes-Brômes, and the Margerides. As indicated in the maps below, the Nationals won the largest shares of votes in all but four (Lauter, Haut-Rhâne, Sebre, Vauperté) of the departments. The Nationals also took the largest shares of the vote in the majority of the intendancies and seats.

The situation is similar to the southeast. Defined as the nine departments encompassing the upper Saine watershed, it is a key swing area. Now the Nationals is the first party in all departments except the Haute-Bléone; the Nationals even won the majority of first-round votes in the Monce-et-Briance, the Suippe, and the Vercors.

Maps of first round results. Colour indicates the party that has received the largest number of votes in the department/intendance/seat. The darker the colour, the greater the proportion of votes for the party. Click on the images to enlarge.
Left - first round results by department; Centre - first round results by intendance; Right - first round results by seat
Red = National Party; Blue = Liberal Party; Orange = Radical Party; Green = Green Party

The Coalition’s stronghold in the east collapsed thoroughly: the National Party came first in all of the sixteen departments in the east, and in all but four of its intendancies. The result: the Nationals took 16 seats directly from the Coalition in the east, and is in the running for 25 more. This is on top of the 29 that the Nationals already hold before the election. With 45 seats in their hands, the Nationals now have the majority of the region’s 86 seats – a feat that was last achieved by National Prime Minister Jean-Marie-Bernard Berdoll (an easterner) in 1940.

The main reason for the defeat of the Coalition in those areas is the pipeline issue – an issue that is very much important in the south and east. In fact, the Coalition’s vote collapsed harder in the departments covering energy-industry dependent Plaisance (Corb), Côme (Simbruins), and Novale (Basses-Alpes) than in those covering Coire (Haine) and Bâle (Sarine). In addition, the south and east are lagging economically than the rest of the country - which in Saintonge usually translates to more votes for the left.

Lastly, the Nationals made major gains in the Saintes metropolitan area. Defined as the city of Saintes and the departments of the Cenise, the Lisle, the Saine-et-Loine, and the Semois, the region has 85 seats. Apart from the Cenise and the southern, rural parts of the Saine-et-Loine, this region is traditionally Coalition-leaning and had, together with the east, formed the backbone of Coalition majorities. The Coalition’s collapse is very evident here. Going into the election, the Coalition held 50 seats in the region; now, the Coalition won none in the first round. Twenty Coalition-held seats were won by the Nationals in the first round, the other thirty are heading to the second round. The Cenise, the Lisle, and the Saine-et-Loine registered National majorities in the popular vote; in the Semois and the city of Saintes, the Nationals were only a few percentage points behind getting a majority.

The reasons for the Nationals’ win in the Saintes metro area may be due to several factors. The National prime ministerial candidate, Anne-Douceline Courseaux, hails from the Saine-et-Loine and is well known in the area. The issue on cuts to local government budgets and essential services hit cities throughout the region hard. Even the city of Saintes – led by a Liberal mayor – protested against the cuts. Even traditionally Coalition-voting cities such as Royan, Surgères, Bicêtre, Meaux, and Santerre sent their Coalition deputies to the second round. In Saintes itself, the middle-class southwestern part of the city turfed out their Coalition deputies and elected National ones. No Coalition deputy won outright in right-bank Saintes, once the bulwark of Coalition support. In some wards of the right-bank (Saint-Brice-en-Saintais, Saint-Gilles, and Sainte-Véronique, for instance), the Nationals won the majority of the votes.

With the Coalition’s loss of support in its strongholds and the Nationals retaining its support amidst the factionalism within the party, the Nationals won a majority in the first round of the 2019 parliamentary election overwhelmingly. This is despite more than one-fourth of the National Assembly seats still to be decided – and that will be the topic of the second part of this analysis which will be published in the next few days.

translation by Kyle MacTaggart-de Flesselles
31 May 2019 - 1548h

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is useless trash

Nationals announce a surprise electoral alliance with the Greens

by Mélanie Bacrot in Saintes
07 June 2019 - 1515h

SAINTES – in what seems to be a calculated move, National Party leader and Prime Minister-elect Anne-Douceline Courseaux delivered another surprise. In a scheduled appearance earlier today, Ms. Courseaux, flanked by Green Party leaders Laurent Junot and Iseult Jaffrelot, announced an electoral alliance between the National Party and the Green Party for the second round of the parliamentary elections. The announcement took most observers by surprise, as there was no public indication that the two parties were negotiating.

Electoral Alliance
The Green Party will urge their supporters and use the party’s machinery to help elect National candidates in the second round. According to election analyst Brice-Gauthier Kermadec, “such an alliance will be able to push the Nationals to a majority in at least a dozen seats – or more, even up to 50 seats.” This will potentially enable the Nationals to have a three-fourths majority necessary to amend the Constitution by itself.

In return for the Greens’ support, the National Party candidates in the four Green-held seats will withdraw their candidacies. All of the incumbent Green deputies face National candidates in the second round. The withdrawal of the Nationals ensures the election of Junot in Semois-1, Jaffrelot in the Haut-Rhâne, Kimo-Philippe de Sabarthès in Saintes-16, and Aglaé Delcassé in Saintes-18. The respective National candidates (and their substitutes) have already tendered their withdrawal to the Royal Elections Institute.

According to Kermadec, “Both parties actually benefit. The Nationals have given away the prospect of winning these four seats in return for a much bigger potential windfall.” Before the announcement, Semois-1 and Saintes-18 are deemed to “Lean National” and Haut-Rhâne and Saintes-16 rated as a “Tossup”. “For the Greens, entering into an agreement with the Nationals will enable the Greens to assure continued representation in the National Assembly at minimal cost,” said Kermadec.

No parliamentary coalition
Courseaux, Junot, and Jaffrelot stressed that there was no negotiations – yet – of entering into coalition in government, especially that the Nationals already control the majority of seats in the lower house. The Nationals and Greens are also at odds with some “red-line” issues – such as the expansion of the Trans-Santonian pipeline (PTS). The party leaders have stressed that the electoral alliance does not amount to a coalition agreement: for instance, Courseaux specifically stated that the electoral alliance will not affect their plans to go ahead with the PTS expansion.

Local Alliances
However, in the local levels, the agreement is an impetus for the formation of National-Green governments. In the departments of the Basses-Brômes, the Baltée, the Corb, the Doire, and the Dyle – which had all elected hung departmental councils – the Nationals and Greens have entered into a coalition agreement with a Barenton clause. Negotiations between the Nationals and the Greens in the Arc, the Bouche-du-Rhâne, and the Semois, looks to be favourable. “The Nationals seems to be giving ground to the Greens,” said Kermadec, “making concessions in order to govern with a majority. In the Dyle for instance, the Nationals even agreed that the Greens will send the department’s sole representative in the House of Lords!”

The Nationals still maintained some of their old red lines. “In the Basses-Brômes, the Breuse, the Corb, the Doire, the coalition agreements maintained neutrality on the PTS expansion,” said Kermadec. “However, since only the Haute-Saine explicitly moved against it – and now the Haute-Saine is wholly National-controlled – this amounts to the Greens not putting a local obstacle on the pipeline expansion.”

The negotiations in the upper levels may also have an effect on the municipal level. The city of Saintes look set to elect a National-Green coalition government. The National and Green party leaderships in cities of Nyon, Beaune, Torcy-le-Grand, Provins, Trappes, Aubeterre, Lohan, and Aurigny are also negotiating coalition agreements for their cities.

translation by Hunter Kidlington de Collobrières
07 June 2019 - 1752h



is useless trash

Politics in-depth
Analysis of the Santonian Parliamentary Elections: Part 2 (Second Round Assessment)

In white, the 126 seats that will elect their deputies in the second round.
by Brice-Gauthier Kermadec
10 June 2019 - 0915h

126 of Saintonge’s 430 electoral districts is set to vote for their parliamentary deputy on 22 June. With the Nationals achieving a huge parliamentary majority in the first round, will they be able to increase their majority further, or will the Coalition manage to recover from their massive losses in the first round? This article will discuss the possibilities for the second round. For my analysis of the first round results, please see this article.

Psephology of the Second Round of Santonian elections
Historically speaking, the Coalition tends to do better during the second round. This is because the Coalition’s strength is not readily apparent during the first round, thanks to Coalition’s composition as two parties. You can see it in the difference in the two maps below. The left map is the largest party per constituency, the right map is where the Liberal and Radical party’s vote are combined as the Coalition (in blue). Some of the seats which appears to have the Nationals as the largest party actually have more votes for the Coalition.

For example, the Coalition’s vote may reach majority, but the seat will still head to the runoff because the Coalition vote is divided between two parties. Case in point: Capoterre-3, where the Coalition vote is 66.54% (Radicals 48.49% + Liberals 18.05%) but it still headed to the runoff because the Radicals failed to win a majority of votes. Capoterre-3 is likely to be won by the Radicals in the second round.

This scenario usually happens when the Liberals and Radicals efficiently transfer their votes to the other party in the second round, if any of the two parties are up against another non-Coalition party. For example, a Liberal voter in Capoterre-3 will no longer have a Liberal candidate to support in the second round. Such a voter will have three options: (1) vote for the Radicals (the other party of the Coalition), (2) vote for the Nationals, or (3) leave their ballot blank. (Remember, voting is compulsory in Saintonge.)

For the Coalition, the rate in which such vote is transferred to the other Coalition party is what I call the Transfer Coefficient. Historically, this is only moderately efficient, with the Radicals transferring more efficiently than the Liberals. For instance, in 2015, an estimated 87% of the Radical vote transferred to the Liberals in seats with a Liberal vs National matchup in the second round. In contrast, about 66% of the Liberal vote transferred to the Radicals in seats with a second round Radical vs National matchup. This is because the Liberals have a significant ideological overlap (on social issues) with the Nationals and so a larger percentage of the first-round Liberal vote transfers to the Nationals. The Radicals, on the other hand, have little overlap with the Nationals, and so when faced with a Liberal vs National matchup in the second round, Radical voters tend more consistently to choose the ideologically-closer Liberals.

Another factor to look out for is what I call the Collapse Coefficient: how much of those voters choose to blank their ballot in the second round when their party is not in the race. Surprisingly, the Collapse Coefficient is historically higher for Liberal voters than for Radical voters – 23% for the Liberals and 11% for the Radicals in 2015. This is because the Radicals have a stronger party system and a more loyal base that is willing to hear what the leadership tells them.

The two coefficients are influenced by the existence of a coalition and/or electoral agreement between the Liberals and the Radicals; it is higher when the two parties have both. For this election, both the Liberals and Radicals have both agreements.

As for the Nationals, their Collapse Coefficients vary; in 2015 their Collapse Coefficient reached a high of 32% - which contributed to the Coalition winning the 2015 elections. If ever there is no National candidate on the second round ballot, the Nationals’ Transfer Coefficient is usually higher to the Liberals, then to the Greens, and last to the diametrically-opposite Radicals. For this election, only Corb-7 will have one such pairing.

The attitude of the Green voters is historically hard to predict. Though the base of the Green voters have high loyalty to the party (the party always gets a certain number of votes in the first round), these voters are fickle in the second round. The base of the Green voters has a high Collapse Coefficient: they tend to blank their votes in the second round. However, the Greens are also the receptacle of protest votes in Saintonge – and such votes coming from occasional Green voters tends to scatter in the second round. Another thing that makes it hard to predict is that despite the Greens being dedicated to their politics, they don’t necessarily vote as their party leaders urge them to. For example, in Sarine-5 in 2015, the Radicals narrowly failed to win the seat by a thin margin despite both the Liberal and Green party leaderships asking their voters to support the Radical candidate. The Green’s Collapse Coefficient in Sarine-5 was high, and their Transfer Coefficient to the Radicals were low: meaning that enough Green voters chose to blank their ballot instead of voting Radical. This led to the Nationals overtaking the Radicals in the seat.

Seat assessment
For the second round, 100 seats feature a National vs Liberal matchup. All but two (Sarine-5 and Semois-8) have Liberal incumbents. 21 seats have a National vs. Radical matchup, all of which have Radical incumbents. Corb-7 will have a Liberal vs. Radical matchup, the only one this cycle.

Four seats (Haut-Rhâne, Saintes-16, Saintes-18, Semois-1) were already conceded by the Nationals to the Greens in an agreement last week. I will not be including these seats in the analysis, but I will be including the possible outcomes of this newfound National-Green cooperation in my predictions.

The graph to the right shows the first-round results in the 126 seats going to the second round. The black dotted line corresponds to the 50% mark. For 125 seats (except Corb-7), the red bar on the leftmost side shows the proportion of the National vote, while the blue (Liberal), yellow (Radical), or green (Green) bar on the rightmost side shows the proportion of the other party’s vote. The graph is arranged according to the proportion of the National vote.

For those featuring a National vs Coalition matchup, I deliberately placed the vote of the Greens (green bar) beside the Nationals so that it will be easy to see which seats can benefit much from the National-Green electoral alliance. At first glance, it is easy to see that multiple seats, even that of Haute-Bléone-2, might benefit from the alliance as the National + Green vote exceeds the 50% mark. But Santonian elections are never that straightforward, as we have seen above. The Transfer Coefficients and the Collapse Coefficients may vary, and this lends to a certain amount of uncertainty, which we have incorporated into the predictions.

Liberal vs National

For the 100 seats with a Liberal vs National matchup, 3 seats are likely to be won by the Liberals, while 5 seats are likely to be won by the Nationals. Nine seats leans Liberal, and 49 seats leans National. 34 seats can go either way (“Tossup”). So even if the Liberals win all of the “Likely Liberal”, “Lean Liberal” and “Tossup” seats in the second round, they will still only have 63 seats – a disastrous result. 63 seats is about one-third of the seats they hold prior to the election. The Liberals need to undercut the Nationals and work to reverse the momentum of the Nationals going to the second round.

Radical vs National
21 seats will feature a Radical vs National matchup in the second round. Seven seats are likely to be won by the Radicals. Five seats leans Radical, and three seats leans National. Six seats can go either way (“Tossup”). So even if the Radicals win all but the three National-leaning seats, that will bring their seat total up to 24 seats – a loss of one-third of their previous 36 seats.

Radical vs Liberal
Corb-7 has a Radical incumbent, and the National surge forced him to a runoff with the Liberal candidate, who came in second place. Corb-7 is rated as a “Tossup”, since National transfers may strongly affect the Liberal second-round vote.

The models predict that the Nationals may attain around 320-350 seats with the second-round results - well within the three-fourths majority (324) needed to amend the constitution. Barring an unprecedentedly high Collapse Coefficient, the Nationals may emerge the strongest in the National Assembly ever since the 1900 landslide by Prime Minister Marc-Childéric Battiston, when 90% of the seats in the lower house was won by the Nationals.

translation by Kyle MacTaggart - de Flesselles
10 June 2019 - 1311h

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