REPORT. Last days of Jean Castex in Matignon: in Prades, the inhabitants wonder about the political future of their former mayor

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In Prades, in the Pyrénées-Orientales, the departure of Matignon from Jean Castex, former mayor of the town for twelve years, fuels the debates. While some hope for his return to business in the Catalan city, others believe that he would do better to stay in Paris to pursue a national career.

“Is he really going to come back?” Gérard, a pharmacist for thirty-five years in Prades, hopes that this is the will of the man who is, for a few more days, Prime Minister. “I would like him to come back to finish the projects he has launched, like the one in front of my pharmacy, argues the trader, pointing to the construction site on the other side of the street. He has contacts and a outstanding donation to unlock the credits. Like the redevelopment of the RN 116 (main axis that connects Perpignan to the ski resorts), its passage to Matignon has made it possible to restart the project.”

“He has done a lot for our city”

Well informed, the Pradéen assures him: “He has never ceased to be interested in our fate. Every Sunday, he makes a phone call to the person who replaced him to find out how the files are progressing.” Known for reading the local press assiduously, the current tenant of the Matignon hotel – who was re-elected mayor in 2020 with more than 75% of the vote – has support in the Catalan city: “He made a lot for our city, assures a passerby. It has been transformed thanks to him.”

“Look, it’s Wednesday afternoon and there’s no one in the streets!” Robert, Pradéens, gets annoyed.

“He did things yes, but only for old people!” When we talk to him about a return of Jean Castex, Robert gets annoyed: “Whether he comes back or not, it’s the same thing!” Installed on the terrace in a village square, the man vociferates: “What is there to do here for young people? Look, it’s Wednesday and there is no one in the streets.” Her daughter, in her thirties, has just informed her that she was going to leave Prades: “What do you want me to say to her? I understand her…”, confesses bitterly the craftsman.

President of the Senate or return to the Olympics?

Snippets of the conversation reach the hairdresser’s ears. “What saddens me is that the youth I had here, my children will never have it, the professional gets involved. We have everything within 50 km: the sea, Andorra, Spain, … yet in Prades we have nothing. I thought that with him we would start on a good dynamic, but nothing. I am closing shop in August, I am giving up.” And when we talk to him about the future 2X2 lanes on the RN 116, the village child sweeps the information aside: “We’ve been talking about it for fifty years. It will never happen!” He nevertheless agrees to recognize that Jean Castex was “better Prime Minister than mayor” – “to do what he did when he did it, few people would have done it” -, while slipping him some advice : “I would be him, I wouldn’t come back, I’ll bounce elsewhere.”

One thing all Pradeans agree on: the chances are slim that the future of Jean Castex will take place at the foot of Canigou. The former speak of a “return to the Olympic Games delegation”. For the latter, they heard it “from well-placed sources”: the former city councilor would aim for the presidency of the Senate. In the meantime, the departure of Jean Castex from 57 rue de Varenne will not take place before the start of next week. He is expected this Sunday at the Vatican to attend the canonization of Charles de Foucauld.

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