Anne Hidalgo elected as Paris's first female mayor
John Lichfield has been The Independent's man in Paris since 1997, covering French news. Before that, he was the paper's Foreign Editor and he has also worked in Brussels and Washington. In 1999, he was the UK press Awards Foreign Reporter of the year.
Sunday 30 March 2014
Paris elected its first woman mayor last night, giving the Socialist deputy mayor, and favourite, Anne Hidalgo, 54, a comfortable victory despite the rout of the Left in other towns.
Her centre-right rival, Nathalie-Kosciuscko- Morzet, 40, came narrowly top of the city-wide poll in the first round last Sunday but failed to defeat Ms Hidalgo in the key battleground arrondissements (districts) on Sunday.
The city-wide vote was neck and neck but Ms Hidalgo and her Green allies were expected to win at least 93 council seats to 70 for the centre-right.
The loss of Paris, held by the Left for the last 13 years, would have heaped humiliation on calamity for President François Hollande and the Socialist party. The victory for Ms Higaldo took the edge off the pain of defeats elsewhere.
Ms Hidalgo, born in Catalonia, is a consensual, hardworking politician. Even supporters suggest that she would be a safe pair of hands rather than an imaginative leader for a city that is fighting to keep its place in the Premier League of world capitals.
She famously said earlier this year that “London is a suburb of Paris” before explaining that she meant that the two capitals were now so intertwined that they had become suburbs of one another.
Her rival Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (known as NKM) was the most successful of several young women promoted from obscurity by former President Nicolas Sarkozy. She promised to make Paris an adventurous, exciting and “avant garde” city once again.
Paris has natural majority of left-leaning voters, ranging from the working and migrant classes to wealthy bourgeois bohemians (bobos) from the worlds of art and media.
The managerial record of the retiring Socialist mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, and by association Ms Hidalgo, was good. Municipal debt has fallen. Local taxes are relatively low.
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