The voice of Rachida Dati resonates in the large hall of the Council of Paris. “Who paid for the trip? What do you think of the trip?” says, off-microphone, Anne Hidalgo’s main rival, turning to the elected representatives of the majority. She continues: “We pay for our trips, we don’t make Parisians pay for them.” “But shut up!”, reply some left-wing elected officials. “What a level…” laments one of them.
Unsurprisingly, the mayor's very controversial three-week semi-private, semi-public trip to Tahiti at the end of October was invited to the Paris Council on Tuesday. Could it have been otherwise? The Parisian right took advantage of the budgetary orientation debate to light the spark. The opportunity to offer a new - and now classic - mano a mano between Anne Hidalgo and Rachida Dati. While denouncing “an insincere budget”, the boss of the right in Paris pointed out the “opaque expense reports” which make it possible to finance “unjustified trips”.
Before attacking: “There is in your attitude, as you demonstrate at each Paris Council, casualness. The same one that costs you a lot of money during your trip to Tahiti. We learned again this morning that you benefited from a helicopter,” continued the leader of the Changer Paris group. According to a journalist from L'Opinion, the mayor of Paris would have used a helicopter during her visit to the Isle of Pines as part of her trip. Behind the scenes, a right-wing elected official laughs: “For us, it’s a gift!”
Anne Hidalgo, who knew she would be picked on, had prepared the response. Speaking again, the mayor of Paris denies any use of a helicopter: “Ms. Dati, if you find any trace of a helicopter, let me know because I have not seen one.” Then accuses his right-wing opponent of having deliberately increased pressure on the subject to attract the media to the Paris Council. “You called the press so that there would be a show,” she denounces. Before turning to the journalists' platform: “Ladies and gentlemen, you are summoned to the Dati show!”, slipping in passing that the right had not managed to win in Paris for twenty years.
Also read: Rachida Dati: “For 10 years, Anne Hidalgo has disfigured Paris”
During the lunch break, a right-wing elected official debriefs: “We expected a slightly heavier response from her, that proves that she is feverish.” At the start of the afternoon, Anne Hidalgo no longer chairs the session and is replaced by one of her deputies. “After three weeks in Tahiti, she doesn’t even make the effort to come all day,” jokes an opposition elected official. But, even when she is absent, Anne Hidalgo’s ears continue to ring.
David Alphand, LR advisor from Paris, has a great time: “You asked us for some examples of savings that could be made in this city. I am offering a saving of 60,000 euros, or a saving of a trip to the other side of the world,” he taunts. “Who can honestly say that this trip was appropriate? The Parisian right, like a majority of Parisians, answers no. Only Ms. Hidalgo doesn't see the problem. From a budgetary and financial point of view, it’s overwhelming,” thunders this elected official from the 16th arrondissement.
“We tickled today but it’s tomorrow that we’re going to ask the annoying questions. We will see if we will get answers,” announces Geoffroy Boulard, the LR mayor of the 17th arrondissement, while a question session with the executive is planned for this Wednesday afternoon. “We had a teaser today. So we will have the rest of the sketch tomorrow,” Paul Simondon, deputy mayor in charge of the budget, sighs in advance in the hemicycle. "A sketch? But what a shame. It’s French money!”, Rachida Dati responds point-for-tat a few rows further. In the ranks of environmentalists, allied to Anne Hidalgo, we count the bullets. Fatoumata Koné, the president of the group, appears tired. She confides: “In reality, the duels between Rachida Dati and Anne Hidalgo take place at each Paris Council. The sight is not pretty. When we look at all the work we are doing in the perspective of the Paris Council, knowing that the only thing we will remember is the controversy over Tahiti…”