Friday, January 21

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, will run for the French presidency | France

The socialist mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has announced her candidacy for the French presidency, saying that, as a woman of hard-working and immigrant roots, she will seek to mend the anger and divisions in French society and win back disillusioned low-income workers. with the left.

“The Republican model is disintegrating before our eyes,” Hidalgo told supporters gathered on the docks of Rouen, Normandy. He warned of growing inequalities and said: “I want all children in France to have the same opportunities as me.”

Hidalgo, 62, is the first mayor of Paris and is best known for her campaign to reduce the number of cars in the French capital, increase the number of bike lanes and make the city greener. This has gained popularity among a strong base of largely well-to-do urban voters on the left, but has proven to be polarizing and infuriating the auto lobby.

Hidalgo has a difficult task ahead of him. The socialist party has been failing since the one-term presidency of François Hollande, who ended up being so unpopular that he did not even seek a second term in 2017. Working-class voters have defected from the party, which some feared would disappear after his historic low. score of 6% in the last presidential elections of 2017.

Hidalgo, who has the backing of a new generation of younger socialist mayors seeking to reinvent the party, has focused his campaign firmly on his story of “overcoming class prejudice” to win back voters. He cited his “humble” upbringing in a housing estate near Lyon to appeal to workers and those who have marched for more “social justice” in protest movements over the past two years, including the yellow vests (yellow vests).

Hidalgo described how he had come to France from Andalusia at the age of two with his Spanish parents fleeing the Franco dictatorship. “I owe my freedom to the school,” he said. “Here in the port of Rouen, I think of my father who worked in the shipyards of Cádiz and of my mother, a seamstress.” She chose to become French at age 14 and said her nationality decree was still close by as a sign of her attachment to France.

In his speech, Hidalgo did not name the centrist president, Emmanuel Macron, who intends to run for re-election in April and who polls show voters view as competent but out of touch with ordinary people. But he said he wanted to end the “contempt, pride, disdain and condescension of those who know so little about our life but decide everything without us, which generates so much anger and revolt.”

Mathieu Klein, the socialist mayor of Nancy, said that the “personal history and roots of the working class of Hidalgo show that the values ​​of the Republic are for everyone.”

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, surrounded by journalists in Rouen, western France.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo surrounded by journalists in Rouen, western France, on Sunday. Photograph: Thomas Samson / AFP / Getty Images

Hidalgo, who wants to reindustrialize France, bring in factories from abroad, install a low-carbon economy and raise wages, has spent the summer trying to build his profile outside of Paris by traveling the country from towns to small towns.

He is expected to easily win his party’s backing in an internal vote, but he faces the great challenge of division on the French left. The left is fragmented into several different parties, with seven potential candidates standing, dividing the vote. Hidalgo is voting at 7-9%, too low to advance to the final round.

Socialist Senator Patrick Kanner, a supporter of Hidalgo, recently described the left as “confetti.” Hidalgo’s supporters hope other candidates will resign and support her. But some, like the leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, are unlikely to ever retire. Hidalgo maintains that, in Paris, he has always shown that the polls were wrong.

Polls show that the April 2022 presidential race could be a repeat of 2017, pitting the centrist Macron against the far-right Marine Le Pen. But the contest is still open. The full list of candidates will not be known until winter, and Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing party, Les Républicains, has yet to decide who will run.

Marine Le Pen delivers a speech at a National Rally in Frejús
Marine Le Pen delivers a speech at a National Rally event in Frejús on Sunday. He began his campaign with a speech firmly against immigration. Photograph: Daniel Cole / AP

Le Pen began his third presidential campaign on Sunday with a staunchly anti-immigrant speech in which he vowed to crack down on parts of France that he claimed had been “Talibanized.” She is focusing her campaign on fighting for individual “freedoms”, hoping to capitalize on small but regular weekend street protests against Macron’s health pass, which requires people to show proof of a vaccine, proof negative or Covid recovery before accessing certain spaces. like bars and restaurants.

In an attempt to assert that his anti-establishment National Rally party could be trusted by the government, Le Pen has avoided taking an outspoken stance against vaccines. She said: “We are not against vaccines, but we believe in the freedom of vaccines: everyone should be able to choose for themselves.” She added: “If every Saturday hundreds of thousands of people are in the streets shouting ‘freedom!’ it is because there is a discomfort “.

Le Pen, who replaced his father in the far-right party in 2011, will temporarily hand over the provisional leadership to Jordan Bardella, 25, during his presidential campaign as he seeks to expand his voter base.

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