Anne Hidalgo has taken the expected step: she has just presented her candidacy to be elected president of France in next year’s elections, representing the Socialist Party. At 62, after becoming the first mayor of Paris, she is now seeking the jump to the Elysee also as the first president, a career in which her colleagues had been begging her to enter for years. Because he falls well, because he generates trust, because he has a long and combative career behind him. You just have to get rid of the “Parisian” slab and you will be a perfect candidate to recover the illusion in a game in very low hours.
If she wins, Hidalgo would not only achieve the milestone of being a woman and president, but would also add to her pike the notch of being an emigrant ruling in her host country. Born in San Fernando (Cádiz), in 1959, her history is that of the republicans who had to escape with the Civil War and the subsequent Franco regime. His grandfather, a socialist and republican, had to flee during the war, but then returned, for the worse: his wife died and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. The father of politics had to grow up with his grandparents.
The suffocation of the fascist regime made the family face a new exile in the 1960s, this time economic. When Hidalgo was two years old, his parents emigrated and settled in Lyon. The girl Ana María Hidalgo Aleu obtained French nationality at the age of 14. With his family – his parents, Antonio and María, and his sister María – he always spoke in Spanish, but with his sister, who now lives in the United States, he already communicated in French. As he explained in an interview in El País, she became Ana at home and Anne outside, although she never chose to “Frenchize” her name. “They did it at school. Outside the house they called me Anne, without consulting me, and that’s how it stayed in France. At home, friends, colleagues call me Ana. Some call me Anne, with all the letters ”.
They lived in a house-refuge, a borrowed loft where Spanish immigrants and refugees passed, welcomed by their father, a militant socialist, and where their mother made the first francs as a dressmaker. This is where Hidalgo began to understand the need for justice and equity to mark the world. And that someone had to fight for it. “Young Anne knew how to take advantage of the opportunities offered to her by the French social promotion system and its promises of freedom, equality and fraternity,” as . explains.
He decided to study law in Paris, a city that he had always longed for, as he confesses in numerous interviews, and that served as a springboard in his life and professional life. In 1982, he had his first job with the French Labor Inspectorate. His arrival in politics was later. He joined the Socialist Party in 1994 and not three years later, in 1997, he was already collaborating in his first of three ministries, that of Employment; Together with the incumbent, Martine Aubry, they helped establish the 35-hour work week in France.
She then started a career in which she did more than be a consultant. In the municipal elections of 2001 he ran at the head of the socialist list in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, and although he did not manage to beat his right-wing opponent, his party managed to win the city hall with Bertrand Delanoe. On her fell the responsibility of equality between men and women in the Mayor’s Office and she became deputy mayor, a “valuable and loyal” advisor to the councilor, who over the years would assume core competencies in a large city, such as urban planning and mobility. . In Delanoe’s second term in Paris (2008-2014), Hidalgo became the visible face of the Parisian struggle for sustainability and against climate change.
At the same time, the woman from Cádiz was successively elected in the regional elections of 2004 and in 2010 in the Ile de France, but she failed in 2002 and 2007 in her interns because she became a deputy for Paris. He has never held an elected position in national politics.
Anne Hidalgo and Pedro Sánchez, at an electoral event in Seville, in 2017. (Photo: CRISTINA QUICLER via .)
To the Mayor’s Office
It was the natural replacement in the Parisian Mayor’s Office, due to the retirement of his predecessor and due to good numbers for the Socialists, in contrast to his fall in the rest of the country. So in March 2014 she became the first councilor of the French capital, in an alliance of socialists, communists, environmentalists and other independent personalities. They could not alone. She was reelected, again, last year, in the middle of the pandemic, with a similar government scheme.
The decisions that have been made the best known to him abroad, and also those that have generated the most enemies among inhabitants of the outer crown of the metropolitan area – who do not vote in Paris – are those aimed at reducing the circulation of cars.
With Hidalgo in the City Council, the deployment of bike lanes or the abolition of parking spaces has accelerated, while central streets were pedestrianized and speed limits were reduced (they have passed to 30 kilometers per hour in almost all streets) .
The fight against pollution and climate change has been at the center of his management, with the phased ban on heat engines, with the total ban on diesel engines by 2024. Measures generally well perceived in a city in which Most of the 2.15 million inhabitants do not have their own car. In his new book -Une femme française, which will come out shortly to accompany his campaign-, that green revolution will occupy a good handful of pages.
François Hollande, the last socialist president, tried to convince her four years ago to run for the presidency and was unsuccessful. Now the needs are different.
The announcement this Sunday of her candidacy for the Elysee, which was an open secret for many weeks, will serve to check if it was the necessary step to get out of a second-place position in the polls, which until now have promised nothing more than adhesion 7-8% of the votes, far from a level that could allow him to contest the presidency of the country.
Its first obstacle, and in principle the simplest – it has the backing of its first secretary, Olivier Faure -, will be its own party, which with an internal vote of the militants after the congress that will be held next weekend will have to decide who will represent him in the Presidential elections of 2022.
The following, starting with some kind of pact with environmentalists, are much more uncertain. He will have to face Jean-Luc Mélenchon, from France Insoumise; the communist candidate, Fabien Roussel, and the environmentalist who wins the primaries among the greens.
That is why reaching the Elysee, in the current circumstances, is a practically impossible feat. However, it will not be difficult for him to improve the minimum representation that his formation achieved in the last presidential elections of 2017, which Emmanuel Macron won, when he only achieved 6.35% of the vote.
“I am Spanish and French”
Hidalgo maintains very strong ties with Spain, which go beyond the distinctions received in these years, which range from the Medal of Andalusia to the Royal Order of Isabel la Católica. “I am Spanish and French,” she repeats insistently. “I feel very well integrated, but I don’t feel assimilated,” she told Canal Sur in 2014. I have a different story, but strong, I have my roots and my origin. I vindicate it, I am Andalusian, I am Spanish, but I also know that this country, my country, France, has given me a future that at that time I could not have in Spain. I feel very good about these two cultures, they have never been an obstacle ”.
He has had dual citizenship since 2003, when his parents returned to Chiclana de la Frontera to retire. Between Chiclana and San Fernando she is seen every summer -if there is no pandemic through-, going to La Barrosa beach like any swimmer, eating with friends and family -shrimp tortillas, biemesabe, churros- or enjoying flamenco in La Venta. of Vargas. They say she’s a good fan.
In Mon combat pour Paris (My fight for Paris), his political memoirs published in 2013, he says: “In San Fernando a happily preserved historical center is preserved, where the raw light and the salty air act on me like the wet magdalena in the Proust tea ”.
Hidalgo declares himself “progressive above all else” and “markedly feminist”, thanks to the influence of Simone de Beauvoir and Anäis Nin. She is a firm defender of internationalisms, above limiting nationalisms, which augurs a fierce battle with the leader of the National Grouping, Marine Le Pen. He has sometimes charged against the Catalan independence movement, even though it is not his only intervention in homeland politics, since for example he maintains very good relations with the PSOE and recently he was involved in the election of Juan Espadas as secretary general of the party in Andalusia , taking over from Susana Díaz.
A defender of the European Union, she has worked hard to position Paris as the headquarters of institutions and companies after Brexit, highlights the French press.
By her own history and by conviction, she has always been a defender of just migration and asylum policies, with an outstretched hand for those who need it, as has been seen in recent days in her statements on Afghanistan. Paris, which is its legacy, has made coexistence a key bet, taking into account that 80% of its inhabitants were born outside its borders.
Personally, Hidalgo is the mother of three children, two from her first marriage (Mathieu, a lawyer, 34, and Elsa, an engineer, 32) and Arthur, 18, whom she had with her second husband, Jean Marc Germain , former Chief of Staff of Martine Audry. And he claims “joy” as a guide for his work and life.
It will take him to face a challenge as great as becoming the president of France.
This article originally appeared on The HuffPost and has been updated.