She has been the subject of controversy and is not even French-born, but the current resident of the Hotel de Ville – the official home of Paris’ mayor – will now throw her hat into the ring for the nation’s presidency.
Anne Hidalgo, 62, announced Sunday evening the start of her campaign for France’s head of state. Addressing supporters and the media in the northern city of Rouen, the capital of Normandy, the mayor said she will step into the race, according to reporting by Radio France International.
“Today, I am ready,” she told an enthusiastic crowd.
Hidalgo’s announcement comes on the heels of other candidates entering the field, including France Unbowed’s Jean-Luc Melanchon, Fabien Roussel of the Communist Party, former Socialist Party Minister Arnaud Montebourg, and the incumbent, President Emmanuel Macron, who is seeking a second term.
Other strong candidates include far-right leader Marine Le Pen, Les Republicains’ Xavier Bertrand, and Green Party leader Yannick Jadot.
A member of the Socialist party, Hidalgo enters a crowded field and will first need to win her party’s internal primary before the election, which is due to hold its first round next April.
The Socialist Party is already at a disadvantage to other national parties, particularly Macron’s La Republique En Marche. According to a September Ipsos poll, Hidalgo’s popularity rating ranks around 9%, which puts her number five in comparison to other presidential hopefuls.
Hidalgo was born in San Fernando in Alusia, Spain, but now holds both French and Spanish citizenship.
She is married to Frenchman Jean-Marc Germain, also from Lyon and also a politician (they have one son).
She is the granddaughter of a Spanish Socialist who sought refuge in France during the 1930s, and her parents came to France as economic migrants during the 1950s.
They settled in Lyon, where Hidalgo grew up. After completing a master’s in social law in Lyon, in Paris she earned another M.A., this time in advanced studies in social and trade unionism.
Her political career has included 17 years in the civil service and several ministerial posts.
She served as Paris’ first deputy mayor, responsible for town planning and architecture, as well as seats on the board of the Parisian Urban Planning Workshop.
After being elected mayor in 2014, Hidalgo focused largely on environmental issues, in large part to combat the growing air pollution. She proposed the banning of cars from certain parts of the city on the first Sunday of the month and making public transport and electric bikes in the city free for the day. She also proposed banning diesel motors from the city.
She also installed reams of bike lanes, beating her campaign pledge with 700 kilometers (435 miles) of the dedicated paths.
Hidalgo also helped the city realize 7,000 new social housing units per year.
In April 2020 Hidalgo was re-elected, garnering 48.5% of the vote and continuing to focus on bringing a city together in the midst of a growing pandemic and its resulting slowdown of commerce.