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

“The republican model is crumbling before our eyes,” Hidalgo told supporters gathered on the quays of Rouen, in Normandy. She warned of growing inequalities, saying: “I want all children in France to have the same opportunities as me. “

Hidalgo, 62, is the first female mayor of Paris and is best known for her campaign to reduce the number of cars in the French capital, increase the number of cycle paths and make the city greener. This earned it its popularity with a solid base of largely affluent left-wing urban voters, but it turned out to be polarizing and angered the auto lobby.

Hidalgo has a difficult task ahead of him. The Socialist Party has struggled since the presidency of a term of Francois Hollande, which proved so unpopular that he did not even run for a second term in 2017. Voters of the working class have deserted the party, which some feared would disappear after its historically low level. score of 6% in the last presidential election in 2017.

Hidalgo, who has the backing of a new generation of young socialist mayors seeking to reinvent the party, has firmly focused his campaign on his story of “overcoming class prejudice” to win back voters. She cited her “humble” upbringing in a housing estate near Lyon in order 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 she arrived in France from Andalusia at the age of two with her Spanish parents fleeing Franco’s dictatorship. “I owe my freedom to school,” she said. “Here in the port of Rouen, I think of my father who worked in the shipyards of Cadiz and of my mother, a seamstress.” She chose to become French at 14 and said she always kept her nationality decree handy 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 which polls show voters see as competent but out of touch with ordinary people. But she said she wanted to end the “contempt, arrogance, disdain and condescension of those who know so little about our lives but decide everything without us, who create so much anger and revolt.”

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

The mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo candidate for the French presidency |  France
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, surrounded by journalists in Rouen, in western France, on Sunday. Photograph: Thomas Samson / AFP / Getty Images

Hidalgo, who wants to reindustrialize France, bring back factories from abroad, install a low-carbon economy and raise wages, has spent the summer trying to make himself known outside Paris by traveling the country from village to small town.

She should easily win her party’s support in an internal vote, but faces the major challenge of dividing the French left. The left is fragmented into several different parties, with potentially seven candidates running, dividing the votes. Hidalgo votes at 7-9%, too low to qualify for the final round.

Socialist Senator Patrick Kanner, a supporter of Hidalgo, recently called the left “confetti”. Hidalgo supporters are hoping other candidates could step down and support her. But some, like leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, will probably never retire. Hidalgo maintains that in Paris, she has always denied the polls.

Polls show that the April 2022 presidential race could be a revival of 2017, pitting centrist Macron against far-right Marine Le Pen. But the competition remains 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 he will lead.

The mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo candidate for the French presidency |  France
Marine Le Pen delivers a speech at a national rally in Frejús on Sunday. She launched her campaign with a fiercely anti-immigration rhetoric. Photograph: Daniel Cole / AP

Le Pen launched her third presidential campaign on Sunday with a fiercely anti-immigration speech in which she vowed to crack down on areas of France that she claimed to have been “Talibanized”. She centers her campaign on the fight for individual “freedoms” – in hopes of capitalizing on small but regular weekend street protests against Macron’s health pass, which requires people to show proof of. vaccination, negative test or recovery from Covid before accessing certain spaces. like bars and restaurants.

In an attempt to pretend that his anti-system Rassemblement National party could trust the government, Le Pen avoided taking a categorically anti-vaccination stance. 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 discomfort.

Le Pen, who took over her father’s far-right party in 2011, will temporarily hand over interim leadership to 25-year-old Jordan Bardella during her presidential campaign as she seeks to broaden her electoral base.

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