A new wind could soon blow in France: Anne Hidalgo wants to push France’s President Emmanuel Macon from his seat. But their chances of reaching the Elysée Palace are not yet good.
After months of speculation, Anne Hidalgo announced her presidential candidacy for the April 2022 election on Sunday. “In all modesty, aware of the gravity of this moment and in order to realize our hopes, I have decided to run for the presidency of the French Republic,” she wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
“I want all the children of France to have the same chance that I got,” said Hildago. “I am a candidate to offer our children, all of our children, a future.” Hidalgo, daughter of a worker and a seamstress, was born in Spain. She has been the mayor of the capital since 2014. If she wins the election, she will not only be the first woman to head the state, but also the first female president of France with dual citizenship.
There are still no chances of victory
At the moment, however, it doesn’t look like the 62-year-old has a chance. In surveys, it still has single-digit approval ratings. But she calmly points out that the polls had previously declared her the loser in the local elections in March.
In Paris she has been deeply green politics since the beginning of her term in office. If she could get the Greens behind, she might have a chance. But they have just enough candidates themselves to compete against each other in a primary.
Even in the shadow of her predecessor Bertrand Delanoë, Hidalgo had campaigned for the banks of the Seine to be closed to car traffic. Once in office, she continued to pursue this and also massively expanded the cycle paths.
The pandemic has literally given wings to their plans: All of a sudden, the east-west axis Rue de Rivoli was converted into an extra-wide cycle path with up to five car lanes. Numerous parking spaces have been turned into street cafes, now the speed limit is 30 almost everywhere.
Reputation: Only cares about the capital
This policy has earned Hidalgo a reputation for caring exclusively for the Parisians. “She doesn’t care about the people from the suburbs at all,” says François Delétraz, author of a diatribe against Hidalgo. Craftsmen no longer come to their customers and air pollution has only shifted to other places, he explains.
Numerous employees complained that Hidalgo was know-it-all and resistant to advice. “She begins meetings with the words: ‘I have made this decision’ instead of allowing discussion,” says Delétraz. At the end of last year, the city was also in debt with a good seven billion euros, according to “Le Monde”.
In the past few months, Hidalgo has been out and about a lot in the country to dispel allegations that she does not look outside the Parisian box. She also got unofficial campaign help from her son Arthur, who swam down the entire Seine in a media-effective manner to draw attention to their endangerment. Hidalgo had announced that it would be possible to bathe in the river again until the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024.
Paris City Hall stepping stone?
The Paris City Hall had already served as a stepping stone into the Elysée for one of its predecessors, namely Jacques Chirac, who made it on the third attempt in 1995. However, Chirac was in the country, well rooted in the Corrèze department.
Hidalgo, on the other hand, worked her way up as the daughter of Spanish immigrants. She came to Lyon with her family at the age of two and grew up there in modest circumstances. Her parents wanted to turn their backs on dictator Francisco Franco’s Spain.
During Hidalgo’s tenure as mayor of Paris, the attacks fell on the editorial staff of “Charlie Hebdo”, on the Bataclan concert hall and the street cafes. But there was also the Paris Climate Conference, at which she and mayors of other metropolises committed to increased climate protection.
The party leader of the socialists, Olivier Faure, trusts Hidalgo a lot despite her distance from the party. “They certainly don’t roll out a red carpet for us, but a lot can still happen,” he said.