Reader question: Who runs Paris while Hidalgo runs for French presidency?

The news that Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has formally launched her bid to become president of France in 2022 has sparked all sorts of political analysis, but one reader asked us who runs Paris in the meantime?

Reader question: Who runs Paris while Hidalgo runs for French presidency?
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo. Photo: Patrick Herzog/AFP

Question: I live in Paris and I’m quite supportive of Hidalgo’s policies here, especially in regards to cycling, so I was interested to see that she’s standing for the presidency. But I do wonder, who will be running things in Paris while she’s off campaigning?

Being a mayor is a well-worn stepping stone towards taking power at a national level, Jacques Chirac was mayor of Paris before ascending to the presidency in 1995, while previous presidents including François Mitterand and François Hollande have also served as mayors. 

It’s also quite common for politicians to flip between roles at a local and national level – previous Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was Mayor of Le Havre before he was appointed PM, at which point he gave up the mairie, before standing again and winning in July 2020 as he ended the PM role.

His successor Jean Castex was the mayor of Prades in south west France when he was appointed PM.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin served as mayor of Tourcoing in north east France. He gave up the mayor’s role when he joined the government and instead became deputy mayor, but in June 2021 stood and was elected in departmental elections in Tourcoing.

According to his Twitter feed, he’s available on request to perform weddings in Tourcoing (a standard function for local officials).

Holding multiple roles is known as cumul de mandats (accumulation of mandates) in French and in recent years the rules have been tightened up on this, ensuring that people cannot hold too many roles at the same time – before 2017 it was common for mayors elected to national office to hold onto their role and simply appoint a deputy.

The president is not permitted to hold any other office during their time at the Elysée, although they do hold the ceremonial role of Co-Prince of Andorra.

Other politicians face limits on the mandates they can hold, with certain role being incompatible, including that of mayor of a town of more than 3,500 inhabitants with a national office.

The above only applies to politicians once they are elected, and it is usual for candidates to hang on to their current role during the campaign – the obvious example being a president seeking re-election who combines running the country with his or her own election campaign (Emmanuel Macron has so far not confirmed whether he will stand in 2022  although it is widely expected that he will).

If Hidalgo is elected as president – and current polling suggests she will not be – she will have to give up being Mayor of Paris, but during the election campaign she is highly likely to hold on to the role, with support in the day-to-day running of things from her current team.

Her deputy, Emmanuel Grégoire, is widely regarded as her successor should she choose to step down for any reason before her current term as mayor ends in 2026.

Speaking to Le Figaro, Grégoire assured readers that Hidalgo remains “fully mayor of Paris” while conceding that he will “have work to do”. 

He added: “She knows my loyalty; I know her trust.”

Do you have a question on any aspect of life in France? Email us at [email protected] and we will do our best to answer it.

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Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France’s disabilities minister

France's disabilities minister will not face a new inquiry "as things stand" over a rape allegation that surfaced just after his nomination by President Emmanuel Macron last week, prosecutors have said, citing the anonymity of the alleged victim.

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France's disabilities minister

Damien Abad has faced growing pressure to resign after the news website Mediapart reported the assault claims by two women dating from over a decade ago, which he has denied.

One of the women, identified only by her first name, Margaux, filed a rape complaint in 2017 that was later dismissed by prosecutors.

The other woman, known only as Chloe, told Mediapart that in 2010 she had blacked out after accepting a glass of champagne from Abad at a bar in Paris, and woke up in her underwear in pain with him in a hotel room. She believes she may have been drugged.

She did not file an official complaint, but the Paris prosecutors’ office said it was looking into the case after being informed by the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics, a group formed by members of France’s MeToo movement.

“As things stand, the Paris prosecutors’ office is not following up on the letter” from the observatory, it said, citing “the inability to identify the victim of the alleged acts and therefore the impossibility of proceeding to a hearing.”

In cases of sexual assault against adults, Paris prosecutors can open an inquiry only if an official complaint is made, meaning the victim must give their identity.

Abad has rejected the calls to resign in order to ensure the new government’s “exemplarity,” saying that he is innocent and that his own condition of arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his joints, means sexual relations can occur only with the help of a partner.

The appointment of Abad as minister for solidarities and people with disabilities in a reshuffle last Friday was seen as a major coup for Macron, as the 42-year-old had defected from the right-wing opposition.

The new prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said she was unaware of the allegations before Abad’s nomination, but insisted that “If there is new information, if a new complaint is filed, we will draw all the consequences.”

The claims could loom large over parliamentary elections next month, when Macron is hoping to secure a solid majority for his reformist agenda. Abad will be standing for re-election in the Ain department north of Lyon.