Michèle Picard is the Communist mayor of Vénissieux, which lies close to France’s second-largest city Lyon, in south-east France. In what has become a yearly ritual, she signs municipal decrees which prohibit home evictions, the seizing of furniture, and the cutting off of water, gas and electricity supplies to people living in desperate conditions. Just as regularly the local prefect – the state’s administrative representative – lodges a legal challenge to the decrees which magistrates duly first suspend and then annul.
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