The French mayor back in court for halting evictions of the poor

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Almost a third of the 60,000 population of Vénissieux, close to France’s second-largest city Lyon, in south-east France, live under the poverty line. Every year, its mayor, Michèle Picard, signs municipal decrees to prevent the ordered evictions of dozens of families from their homes, and the cutting off of water and energy supplies to hundreds of others. The decrees are just as regularly challenged in court by the local state authorities of the prefecture, which habitually find favour from the presiding magistrates. This week Picard was back in court to defend her case, just as a new series of evictions get underway. Michaël Hajdenberg reports.

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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.