Macron: billions in aid for Marseille
The French president has pledged billions in funds to help the city of Marseille get back on its feet in the face of bloody gang wars, crumbling infrastructure and social problems. The Marseille Plan, which Macron presented on Thursday during a three-day visit, includes four billion euros in investment commitments for schools, housing and security in the poverty-stricken high-rise neighbourhoods. Commentators think little of the initiative.
The problem is the plundering
The major problem with the heavily indebted southern French metropolis is its local government, blogger Nathalie MP Meyer complains in Contrepoints:
“More than neglect, Marseille suffers from conditions like those in Greece: the clientelistic plundering of the public coffers by elected officials via an administration appointed for the most part on the basis of party politics. ... Better to pay up and sweep the dust under the carpet than to endanger one's own political support. ... The only goal: to cling to power for as long as possible. And all of this by means of a technique that is easy to see through: ceaselessly demanding 'more funds' in the name of what could be called the special case of Marseille. ... Why would the billions now promised by Emmanuel Macron be better spent than the previous ones?”
Use local know-how rather than indiscriminate funding
The citizens' initiative Collectif du 5 novembre was founded in 2018 after poorly maintained apartment buildings collapsed in the Noailles neighbourhood of Marseille, killing eight people. Its members write in Libération:
“One president follows another, election campaigns and dramas repeat themselves. ... These PR measures focus on numbers pulled out of a hat without anyone really understanding their meaning. But there is another way: listening to professionals, citizens' groups, associations and experts who have been putting proposals on the table for years. And this method works: it allowed our collective, the people who were dislodged and our partners, to impose their own public policies on the state and the Marseille municipality in July 2019 in order to finally resolve the evacuation crisis that had already gone on for nine months.”