There have been rows about local authority spending in France for years. Ever since the question of the French state’s budget deficit developed into a recurring theme – in other words, for the last fifteen years or so – the country’s towns, départements (akin to counties) and regions have been accused of wasteful spending. The weekly news magazine Le Point has made a speciality of the subject, regularly using its front page – in between reports on where to invest your money or the latest property price trends – to pillory local authorities on how they spend their money. In September 2012, for example, the magazine ran a headline about the “scandal of local authorities”, writing of “dizzying levels of hidden spending” and of “insatiable local chieftains”. These are the same local “chieftains” whom François Baroin, the head of the Association des Maires de France (AMF), the mayor of Troyes south-east of Paris and a former minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy, called on to protest on the streets last Saturday against a reduction in funding by the socialist-run central government.
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