Last modified: 2018-06-27 by ivan sache
Keywords: vitrolles |
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Municipal flag of Vitrolles - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 16 July 2005
The municipality of Vitrolles (37,087 inhabitants; municipal website) is located 25 km north-west of Marseilles, on the eastern shore of the pond of Berre.
The medieval village of Vitrolles was built around a rock (in Provençal, roucas - see the French word rocher) topped by a Roman chapel and a watch tower. In the 18th century, the new town developed in the plains located near the pond of Berre. Vitrolles houses today one of the biggest commercial zone in the South-East of France. Until recently, it was mostly known as a place crowded with shopping malls, industrial parks (240 ha) and trailer parks.
Vitrolles made the headlines in 1995, when the Socialist Mayor was
reelected with only 335 votes more than his opponent Bruno Mégret, then
member of the extreme-right party Front National (FN). In 1996, the
State Council cancelled the election and found Maigret ineligible
because he had not respected the law limiting the amount of money used
in electoral campaigns. In February 1997, Catherine Mégret, succeeding
her husband as the chief candidate for FN, was elected Mayor of
Vitrolles with 52.5% of the votes. Vitrolles was then, along with
Toulon, Orange and Marignane, one of the four French towns of
significance ran by FN.
The Mégret left FN in 1999 following a quarrel with the historical FN leader Jean-Marie Le Pen and founded the Mouvement national républicain (MNR). In March 2001, Catherine Mégret was reelected Mayor of Vitrolles with only 205 more votes than her main opponent. The State Council cancelled once again the election in June 2002 because MNR had released a libellous leaflet against the candidate of the right parties. On 6 October 2002, the Socialist Guy Obino, supported by the left parties, the associations of the city and members of the right parties, was elected Mayor of Vitrolles with 54.05% of the votes.
During their five-year rule in Vitrolles, the Mégret applied the extreme-rightist ideology. They attempted to suppress the associative life in the city, cutting the funds allocated to the associations Le Sous-Marin and Moulin à jazz, walling up the entrance of the Café Musique and firing the director of the municipal cinema Les Lumières, because she has shown a film on AIDS and organized a public debate on that topic. In September 1997, Catherine Mégret decided to rename the town to Vitrolles-en-Provence, following the attempts by FN to attract regionalists; several street names were changed, including the Nelson Mandela square renamed to Marguerite de Provence square. In January 1998, Catherine Mégret went too far and decided that the municipality would grant 5,000 FRF to any newborn from French or European Union parents, in order to promote the "national preference". She was sentenced for discrimination to a three month in jail deferred sentence, a fine of 15,245 € and was found ineligible for two years. in April 1997, the municipal youth workers were fired, as were 84 helpers and contractors. Moral and physical pressure was exerted on the municipal executives who did not agree with the FN ideology, so that 50 left the municipal administration, which was completely desorganized. The Regional Accounting Office reported several errors and deliberate frauds in the management of the municipality, including an arbitrary increase by 20% in the price of water and the sending of letters promoting Bruno M&e&cutegret for the presidential election to all French Mayors.
Ivan Sache, 16 July 2005
The flag of Vitrolles is diagonally divided (per bend sinister) yellow-red with the municipal coat of arms, "Or a tower gules on a base of the same". These arms are registered in the Armorial Général.
Dominique Cureau & Ivan Sache, 16 July 2005