We must protect endangered rural mayors

The work of the mayor of Vicq-sur-Breuilh in Haute Vienne, who renovated the former presbytery and reopened it as an art museum that attracts thousands of visitors a year, has been hailed as a ‘little miracle’ by Cédric Szabo

Small-town maires have launched a charm offensive to highlight their work and fight back against what they see as efforts to force them out of office permanently.

They argue that maintaining these tiny administrative units is important to life in the countryside.

Cédric Szabo, is head of the Association des Maires Ruraux de France, a group representing 10,000 mayors of small rural communes. He tells Samantha David their work deserves to be better recognised.

Cédric Szabo, head of the Association des Maires Ruraux de France (AMRF), which represents around 10,000 maires in charge of communes with fewer than 3,500 residents, says mayors of small rural communes are an essential expression of democracy.

“It is vital to maintain this system because it means people know exactly who to turn to for assistance with everything, even disputes with neighbours,” he said. “People in small rural communes know that someone is looking after them.”

There are 35,228 communes in mainland France, and each has a mairie, a maire, a secretary and a full set of councillors. 

About 34,600 communes are home to fewer than 5,000 people and, of those, 31,500 have populations under 2,000. There are around 20,000 communes in France with populations of fewer than 500. Some are home to just a few ...

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