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POLITICS

Paris set for historic all-female mayoral battle

The fight to become the next mayor of Paris is gearing up to be a historic one with an all-female cast lined up ready to do battle.

Paris set for historic all-female mayoral battle
Housing Minister Cécile Duflot who could be a surprise candidate in an all female line up to become the next mayor of Paris. Photo: The Local

The current mayor Bertrand Delanoë will step down at the end of his second term in office next year and so far all the big names lined up to replace him are women.

It looks almost certain therefore that in 2014 Paris Town Hall will get its first ever female mayor.

The front runner is Delanoë’s current deputy Anne Hidalgo, 53, who looks set to be the official Socialist Party candidate. Delanoë himself has given Hidalgo his backing.

But behind her is Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, 39, better known in France as simply NKM. The former spokeswoman for Nicolas Sarkozy during last year’s failed presidential election campaign bid officially announced her candidature last week.

But NKM is not yet guaranteed the position as chosen candidate of the French right. She may be forced to fight it out for the chance to run against Hidalgo in a primary election against Rachida Dati, the mayor of Paris’s VII arrondissement.

Dati was once justice minister under Sarkozy before being unceremoniously dropped. She has been ever present in the headlines thanks in part to her much publicized paternity law suit to prove that Dominique Desseigne, a wealthy hotel group chief, is the father of her child.

And then there is the Greens’ Cécile Duflot, 37, the current housing minister, who has hinted she too may run for mayor in 2014. “I'm not ruling anything out,” she told French newspaper the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday on the question of whether she will run for mayor.

Marielle de Sarnez, vice-president of the centrist MoDem party could complete an all-female line up although there is still time for male candidates to throw their hats into the ring.

Next up, a female president?

Whoever comes out on top, having a female occupy one of the most prestigious posts in French politics, will give a significant boost to women in politics.

“The mayor of Paris has a lot of political clout, much more than London, so having a woman in that position will certainly help boost the presence of females in French politics,” Philippe Marlière, a professor in French politics at UCL London, told The Local on Monday.

“You can introduce all kinds of laws on equality but this kind of scenario will help much more.”

Marlière believes Delanoë’s choice to anoint Hidalgo as his would be successor made it impossible for the other parties to put up their “traditional male” candidates to oppose her.

If Paris elects its first female mayor it could also give a boost to the chances of a woman becoming president of the Republic for the first time.

Could Hidalgo or NKM follow in the footsteps of former mayor and president Jacques Chirac from the Paris Town Hall to the Elysée Palace.

“I think it’s definitely in the pipeline,” Marlière said. “I don’t think the French are ready to elect a president from an ethnic minority like an Obama figure but they’re much closer to having a female president.”

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FILM

French film stars cut hair in support of Iran protests

Video shows several big-name French movie stars cutting their own hair in protest

French film stars cut hair in support of Iran protests

French film stars, including Isabelle Huppert, Juliette Binoche and Marion Cotillard, have cut locks of their hair in an Instagram video published on Wednesday in solidarity with women protesters in Iran.

Charlotte Rampling and Jane Birkin, two stars with close ties to France, also appeared in the video.

It came a day after more than 1,000 French film professionals, including actor Lea Seydoux and Cannes Film Festival head Thierry Fremaux, signed a petition “supporting the revolt by women in Iran”.

Women removing their headscarves and cutting their hair has been a key image of the protests in Iran that broke out last month.

They were sparked by the death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, following her arrest by Iran’s “morality police” who enforce Iran’s strict dress code that requires women to cover their hair in public.

“The Iranian people, with women in front, are risking their lives to protest. These people want only the most basic freedoms. These women, these men, deserve our support,” said a message accompanying the video on Instagram.

The campaign was launched by a group of lawyers.

“It is impossible not to denounce, again and always, this terrible repression,” their message added.

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