Sun, 24 Oct 2021

PARIS, France: The Socialist Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said she will run in the 2022 French presidential election, despite polls showing she has little chance of succeeding unless she can unite the country's divided political left.

Spanish-born Hidalgo, 62, became the first woman to become mayor of Paris in 2014 and is one of the few senior left-wing politicians to emerge relatively unscathed from the political shake-up caused by President Emmanuel Macron's win in 2017.

While Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen are currently polling at between 20 to 24 percent, respectively, for the first round of votes in April, Hidalgo is only polling at some 8 percent.

"Knowing the seriousness of our times and to give hope to our lives, I have decided to be candidate for the French presidency," Hidalgo said, while announcing her candidacy in Rouen, Normandy.

She also promised to re-industrialize traditional manufacturing heartlands, create a greener economy, improve education, and prioritize French citizens within European Union polices.

Her efforts as mayor of Paris to turn the banks of the River Seine into bustling promenades, regulate polluting vehicles and create new bike lanes during the COVID-19 pandemic has won her praise among much of the electorate.

While Paris' successful efforts to host the next Olympic Games has boosted her profile, she remains relatively unknown outside the French capital.

After former banker Macron disrupted mainstream politics in the previous election, France's Socialist Party has struggled to rebuild itself, with former agriculture minister Stephane Le Foll being Hidalgo's only rival within the party.

The French political left is also deeply divided. The Greens, who performed well in last year's municipal elections, will announce a rival contender in the coming weeks.

Analysts stressed that any serious centre-left challenger will need a united Greens and Socialists to have any chance of progressing to the election's second round of voting. The latest polls show Macron and Le Pen are the most likely second round contenders.

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