Rouen : Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo launched her candidacy for the French presidency on Sunday, emphasizing ecological and social issues, and far-right leader Marine Le Pen presented her vision for the top post as the race to overthrow incumbent President Emmanuel Macron is accelerating.
Hidalgo, 62, is one of a handful of candidates from right and left to become France’s first female president.
Macron has yet to confirm he will run for a second term, but is widely expected to run again.
Polls suggest he and Le Pen would lead the first round of voting in April and Macron would then beat Le Pen in the second round, in a 2017 repeat.
Hidalgo is favorite to win her Socialist Party nomination later this month, but faces an uphill battle to unite the fractured dropouts of her candidacy.
She chose the shipyards of the socialist city of Rouen to advocate for a low carbon economy and more spending on education, housing and health.
“I want all children in France to have the same opportunities as me,” she said, acknowledging that the French school system had helped her overcome the “class prejudices” she had suffered as a teacher. he child of Spanish immigrants – her father was an electrician and she mother was a seamstress – in a city of Lyon.
Hidalgo is entering the race as a polarizing figure whose campaign to get cars out of Paris and green the city has divided residents.
She highlighted her record as a capable manager who has led Paris through a series of crises, from a series of terrorist attacks to the “yellow vests” riots of 2018 and 2019 and the fire that ravaged the cathedral. Our Lady.
Shortly after his announcement, anti-immigration, anti-EU Le Pen outlined the main themes of his third presidential campaign in a speech in Fréjus, in the south of the country.
In typical barnstorming mode, Le Pen told a crowd of flag-waving supporters that she would cleanse “parts of France that have been Talibanized” – a reference to the presence of radical Islamists in some high-rise housing estates.
She also made overtures to the thousands of people who demonstrate every week against the Covid “health pass”, which requires people to present proof of vaccination or a negative test to be served in restaurants, take long-distance trains and a host of other services.
Le Pen, who campaigns as a defender of French “liberty”, called it a “disproportionate violation of the right to liberty”.
Polls currently suggest Hidalgo would get just seven to nine percent in the first round of the presidential ballot in April if chosen to represent the Socialists.
She hopes to increase that score by harnessing the growing climate activism of the younger French generation.
Hidalgo and Le Pen have both accused Macron of “arrogance” – one of the accusations at the root of the yellow vest revolt – and they stressed their commitment to women’s rights.
Le Pen is committed to making the streets safe so that women can walk “at any time of the day or night and in any neighborhood”.
Hidalgo said she would push for gender pay equality.
Le Pen’s combative rhetoric masks concern in his National Rally after his poor results in the regional elections in June.
Analysts have warned of potential voter fatigue with Le Pen after two failed campaigns.
And Le Pen could be hampered by a rival far-right candidacy from controversial television specialist and author Eric Zemmour.
Zemmour, who has built a loyal following with anti-migration rants and the Muslim headscarf, reportedly intends to use an upcoming book tour to throw his hat in the ring.
Macron, for his part, received key support from the right: his former prime minister Edouard Philippe.
“My support for the President of the Republic will be total in 2022,” Philippe said on TF1 television on Sunday evening.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)