The socialist mayor of Paris launches into the race for the French presidency

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Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo applauds as she attends a ceremony with the French Paralympic delegation, in front of the town hall in Paris, France, September 6, 2021. REUTERS / Eric Gaillard

PARIS, Sept. 12 (Reuters) – Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo announced on Sunday that she would run for the 2022 presidential election on a socialist list, although polls indicate she is unlikely to rise to a challenge serious unless it can unite the fragmented left.

Hidalgo, who became the first woman to lead the French capital in 2014 and is one of the few top left-wing politicians to emerge relatively unscathed from President Emmanuel Macron’s overhaul of the political landscape in 2017.

Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen are currently polling between 20% and 24%.

“Knowing the seriousness of our time and to give hope to our lives, I decided to be a candidate for the French presidency,” said the 62-year-old woman when announcing her candidacy in the city. Norman of Rouen.

It promises a greener economy, the reindustrialisation of old manufacturing centers, the place of citizens at the center of the European Union and improved education – but it has not yet given much flesh to its agenda.

As mayor of Paris, Hidalgo, born in Spain, was applauded for turning the once crowded banks of the Seine into lively walks, for fighting against polluting vehicles and for creating new cycle paths during the crisis of the COVID-19.

If its profile has strengthened as Paris takes over as host of the next Olympic Games, it remains a relative unknown outside the periphery of the capital.

Meanwhile, the Socialist Party has struggled to rebuild itself after Macron, a former banker with little political experience before his election victory, blew up mainstream parties.

Party members will choose which candidate to present. Hidalgo’s only rival to date is former Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll.

But the left is deeply divided. Earlier this month, former economy minister Arnaud Montebourg said he would run as an independent candidate. The Greens, who performed well in the municipal election last year, will also announce a candidate in the coming weeks. Two other far-left candidates also threw hats in the ring.

Analysts say any center-left challenger will need to rally the Greens and Socialists behind a single ticket to fight for a spot in the second round.

Polls currently show Macron and Le Pen as the most likely second-round candidates.

Reporting by Richard Lough; edited by John Irish and Raissa Kasolowsky

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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