local elected officials, “front line” hit hard

The magnitude of the shock caused by the appearance of the coronavirus continues to abuse our beliefs about the solidity of our economic, social and political organizations. The epidemic did not affect the social body and the territories in a homogeneous way. However, it is indeed the model of a state apparatus in control for the best (protection and economic interventionism) and the worst (bureaucratization of public decision-making and weak mobilization of intermediary bodies) that has rapidly established itself.

In The Strange Defeat, Marc Bloch, historian and army officer, had highlighted the causes of the debacle in 1940: bureaucratic army, vertical organization, concentration of decisions and certainties and, finally, among themselves of the senior civil service , unable to adapt to the changes in strategy of the enemy at the time. Today, the enemy is no longer military and visible. It is sanitary and invisible.

It is undoubtedly too early to take stock of the causes of such dysfunctions. And besides, is there a public organization in the world which has not been criticized for the conduct of business in times of crisis? The role of mayors as front-line actors has been repeatedly emphasized. And yet, a majority (51%) of mayors questioned in our survey regretted not having been able to have clear and consistent information earlier. And sometimes they were warned by the media.

This is undoubtedly why 48% of them say they have been badly associated with the implementation of the state of health emergency while 40% think the opposite. The size of the municipality plays a significant role in the representation that mayors have of their role. Because it is especially the elected representatives of the municipalities of intermediate size (from 1,000 to 9,000 inhabitants) who have experienced the greatest difficulties of coordination with the State services.

Financial uncertainty

However, all State services are not in the same boat. Among the two institutions strongly involved at the local level, the prefectures benefit from a strong dose of satisfaction from the mayors since they are 64% to consider that their working relationship has been effective. However, this threshold drops to 40% for regional health agencies (ARS). An important distinction is made between outgoing mayors re-elected (and at work during the spring) and mayors installed in June, some of whom were already municipal councilors. The lack of effectiveness felt vis-à-vis the ARS is twice as important among outgoing mayors than among city councilors without municipal experience. The report is reversed with regard to prefectural services since the outgoing mayors are 70% to express their satisfaction against 49% for the newly elected.

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