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In Mantes-la-Jolie, the rifts of the right cause a municipal news

Valérie Pécresse would have gone well from this episode. While the candidate of the Les Républicains (LR) party for the Elysee continues to display the found unity of the right behind her, her elected officials are tearing themselves apart in a very sensitive town in her own department, Mantes-la-Jolie ( Yvelines). Political differences, personal resentments: the conflict that has been open for months has reached such a climax that the mayor (LR) Raphaël Cognet resigned his mandate on Friday, January 7. « It’s a gigantic waste, but I no longer had the means to act », he comments.

Several other municipal councilors having already left their functions, new by-elections will be organized. The date – before or after the presidential election – has not yet been set. The only certainty: in this town of 44,000 inhabitants held by the right since 1995, the municipal and presidential campaigns will overlap. At the risk of colliding.

The impact of this resignation goes beyond Mantes-la-Jolie. Raphaël Cognet also left the presidency of Grand Paris Seine et Oise (GPS & O), the most populous urban community in France: it brings together 73 municipalities of Yvelines, including Mantes, Poissy and Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, which total 420 000 inhabitants. His successor must be chosen on January 20. The first vice-president, Cécile Zammit-Popescu, mayor (LR) of Meulan-en-Yvelines, could take over.

Racket at the Val-Fourré market

At the origin of this crisis, a failed transition between two men very close for a long time, Pierre Bedier, the powerful president (LR) of the Yvelines department, now 64 years old, and his ex-collaborator Raphaël Cognet, 42 years old. . « I recruited him in 2004, when I was a deputy and he, a young activist eager to be in politics, » remembers Mr. Bedier. Little by little a filial relationship is established between them, say those who have seen them at work. The former Secretary of State of Jacques Chirac made Raphaël Cognet work at the town hall of Mantes-la-Jolie as chief of staff, then chose him, in 2017, to succeed Michel Vialay as mayor of the town. In 2020, Mr. Cognet is re-elected with 72% of the votes in the first round. After this success, Pierre Bedier favors the designation of his protégé at the head of GPS & O.

However, their relationship is strained. Mr. Bedier, who remained a municipal councilor in Mantes, has the feeling that his “colt” no longer listens to his opinions, that he wants to break with the policy that has been in place for twenty years. In particular for everything concerning the poor district of Val-Fourré, scene of urban riots in 1991. “I knew Mantes cut between the Val-Fourré and the rest of the city, like two municipalities that turned their backs on each other, says Pierre Bedier. For twenty-five years, my obsession has been to bring them together. However, I discovered that, with Raphaël Cognet, we have fundamentally different visions of the city. When I saw that he was ready to let public services such as Family Allowances or CPAM leave from Val-Fourré, I said: « VSe is not possible! This city is fragile, and if we are not careful, it can end very badly. »

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