France : The citizens’ debt audit - Newsletter N°2

26 February 2012 by CAC France

The campaign for a citizens’ audit of the public debt is making headway. Following the success of the call for general mobilization, which attracted nearly 60,000 signatures, about a hundred collectives have been set up in towns and villages across France with the aim of launching a vast campaign to raise public awareness of the issues related to public debt (see list of local collectives).

The locally-based popular response was a decisive factor in the huge success of the mobilisation organized on the weekend of 14 January 2012; the Saturday was a full day rich of meetings between the local collectives to coordinate their activities, followed on Sunday by the international conference on “Their debt, Our democracy”. Coming a few days after the loss of France’s “triple A” rating, the conference attracted over a thousand participants, debating the demand for alternatives to the current absurd policies of austerity aiming at “reassuring the markets”... You can find more details on the weekend on the citizen audit website.

But things are moving very fast, and we’ve got to keep up with events: there have been historic demonstrations in Portugal against the policies of the Troika Troika Troika: IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank, which together impose austerity measures through the conditions tied to loans to countries in difficulty.

and the Portuguese government, and an uprising in Greece against the new austerity measures… Populations across Europe are being sacrificed on the altar of the debt, to “reassure the markets”. It is now urgent that we stop this trend. Members of the Collective for a citizens’ audit are also involved in campaigns to support the Greek people...because their battle is our battle too! (Read the call for solidarity from the Greek Indignant movement).

 A new timetable

The galloping pace of events highlights the urgent need for joint mass mobilisation against the pretext of debt being used to implement anti-social and anti-democratic measures. To this end and following the 14 January meeting of the local collectives, we have drawn up a common timetable for mobilisation in order to coordinate initiatives at local level:

- The timetable take into account the need for major mobilisation at European level against these destructive austerity measures and the draft new European treaty to be signed at the European summit on 1 and 2 March this year. This signature will just mark the start of the ratification process. There are plans for a week of decentralised protest by the collectives, with a series of demonstrations at local level between 5 and 12 March.

As part of this week of action, a meeting of the Collective will be organised in Paris on 5 March (For more information and a fler, see here)

- The timetable also includes the big European demonstration planned in Frankfurt in the second half of May together with the European social movements, to protest against the unfair policies of the European Union, European Central Bank Central Bank The establishment which in a given State is in charge of issuing bank notes and controlling the volume of currency and credit. In France, it is the Banque de France which assumes this role under the auspices of the European Central Bank (see ECB) while in the UK it is the Bank of England.

International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.

- With the upcoming Presidential elections in France we - in association with the French "Libérons les elections” (Liberate the elections) campaign are also - calling for a day of decentralised activities on 31 March to free the European peoples from the debt, as well as for a day of decentralised action by the local collectives on 1 May (May Day).

And the timetable also confirms the intention to organize a grand national event that is both militant and festive at the end of June with our local collectives and other partners in the anti-austerity movement.

 Tools for a grassroots campaign

If we are going to win the battle of ideas, we will have to run a major campaign at grassroots level capable of bringing the majority on board. The meeting on 14 January showed the great wealth and diversity of local collectives’ production of ideas for demonstrations and communication material… There was also an impressive display ofmilitant video material. We must ensure that this wave of sharing and creativity keeps rolling!

The national-level collective is currently working on a mobilisation kit, including a quiz (available here), a brochure on people’s perceptions with regard to the debt, and an explanatory video. If you’ve got graphics skills or work in animation, you could help the us here by contributing your skills at the collective level.

In general, be it handing out leaflets in markets, holding a stall at forum events, distributing videos, or whatever, your involvement will always be very precious to us! You can find out how to contact your nearest local collective here or by sending an email to contact at .

 Local government and local battles

The Citizens’ Audit collective can provide anyone who needs them - citizens, activists, local collectives - with the tools they need to engage with local government. Local government debt Government debt The total outstanding debt of the State, local authorities, publicly owned companies and organs of social security. is an important angle of attack mobilizes people at local level. The map published by France’s Libération newspaper shows that many local authorities have taken out toxic loans.

The idea of the “Involve your town hall” initiative is to persuade your town council to issue a deliberation on local government debt and on the need for a citizens’ audit.

The initiative could result in the establishment of a network of local authorities supporting a citizens’ audit, willing to share Share A unit of ownership interest in a corporation or financial asset, representing one part of the total capital stock. Its owner (a shareholder) is entitled to receive an equal distribution of any profits distributed (a dividend) and to attend shareholder meetings. their accounts with their citizens, and supporting the principles and workings of citizens’ audits.
Our local collectives are also present at grassroots level in the battles to defend our public services. They are fighting to defend the public hospital at Béziers (South-West France) for example, where the call for a citizens’ audit will be launched during the day of mobilization on 29 February.. This is just the beginning! We must step up the protests denouncing the budgetary and job cuts.

 Audit campaigns in Europe

There is a new global awareness of the injustice and absurdity of the policies being imposed in the name of the debt. Initiatives for a citizens’ audit have been launched across Europe (specifically, in Spain, Portugal, Italy, the UK, Ireland and Greece), and also in North Africa (Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco); there will be a meeting in Brussels on 7 April to ensure coordination of the initiatives concerning the debt. Contact: myriam at

Thank you for having taken the time to read this, and don’t forget to visit .
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The battle goes on!

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