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Why Anne Hidalgo excludes nothing for 2026

It’s a little music that has been playing and spinning in the corridors of Paris City Hall in recent weeks.

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Why Anne Hidalgo excludes nothing for 2026

It’s a little music that has been playing and spinning in the corridors of Paris City Hall in recent weeks. Anne Hidalgo would be on her way to run for a third term in 2026. The rumor seems to amuse the socialist mayor, at the head of the capital since 2014. For the moment, she does not wish to confirm anything... and even less to deny. “I’m the master of my clocks,” she says, simply confiding her “happiness at being mayor of Paris.” As a clue? Anne Hidalgo will say no more. The mayor wants to keep all the cards in hand, and for as long as possible.

In recent days, the Parisian playing field has been profoundly modified. By entering the government, Rachida Dati would have sealed a pact with Emmanuel Macron to hope to lead an alliance list between LR and Renaissance in 2026. Initially, Anne Hidalgo would have “burst out laughing” according to those close to her upon learning of the appointment of her right-wing rival. During the very stormy Paris Council in November, she attacked her again: “Ms. Dati makes herself the main defender of the government. Take your card from Renaissance, at least it will be clear.”

But Anne Hidalgo was no longer laughing Tuesday evening as she listened to Emmanuel Macron confirm his desire to reform the PLM electoral system (Paris, Lyon, Marseille). An election by direct universal suffrage could complicate the battle a little more. In his entourage, people denounce “electoral manipulation”, while minimizing: “Dati’s betrayal does not pass to the right. We are very, very far from a single candidacy from Dati.

This new configuration does not seem to change the plans of the outgoing mayor. “She wants to maintain the freedom to choose for 2026 and therefore keep control of her calendar,” observes Patrick Bloche, one of her closest deputies. Within the Parisian right too, doubts are low. “Anne Hidalgo will not be able to give up. It's too hard for her to think that she can retire when she is the center of all attention in Paris. She thinks she’s the sun in the middle of the universe,” mocks an LR advisor from Paris.

The councilor is betting big on the year 2024 and the Olympic Games which she is already announcing as “an incredible celebration”, despite the avalanche of criticism. Politically, these Olympics should allow it to “demonstrate” to the whole world its “transformation” of Paris. For his supporters, a successful Olympic Games would offer him a natural launching pad towards a third term. “She will announce her decision at the beginning of 2025,” predicts one of her relatives.

Another prediction: Anne Hidalgo should therefore not follow in the footsteps of her mentor, Bertrand Delanoë, who dubbed her as heir when she was his first assistant. His own, Emmanuel Grégoire, could wait a long time... The socialist, however, does not hide the fact that he is "preparing" to take up the torch in 2026, while certifying that he would do nothing against the outgoing mayor.

But Anne Hidalgo does not intend to make his task easier. In his entourage, some no longer hesitate to say that there is no “natural heir”. It is in this sense that the mayor had leaked the idea of ​​a left-wing primary to prepare for her continuation in the event of non-candidacy in 2026. A nice banana peel... “If I am not capable of winning a left-wing primary in Paris, I'm doing something else with my life,” Emmanuel Grégoire politely reacted at the end of the summer. Within the PS, some are encouraging it to accelerate, even if it means twisting the mayor's neck. “Emmanuel is above the rest as he masters the files. Everyone knows they want it,” whispers a Parisian socialist elected official. “He’s too scared at the moment…” laments another. At the end of November, the first deputy nevertheless launched a first initiative: “A drink with you” to meet Parisians. An operation that he intends to repeat in all districts.

In truth, the relationship between Anne Hidalgo and Emmanuel Grégoire has deteriorated in recent years. “Anne criticizes her for not wetting her shirt enough to protect her during controversies so as not to damage her possible candidacy,” decodes a close friend of the mayor. Meanwhile, other figures from the majority emerge, such as the deputy, Lamia El Aaraje, also president of the Paris PS federation. “Anne Hidalgo loves him. She sees her as a potential successor. She tells herself that she is a woman, from diversity, that this could send a good message for her succession,” observes a right-wing Parisian elected official. “It came back to my ears. It’s a magnificent mandate where we act for people’s daily lives, but we are only halfway through the mandate. We still have a lot of work to do. Anne Hidalgo has not announced her intentions. The question does not arise,” comments Lamia El Aaraje.

A socialist official prefers to smile: “Anne brings Lamia up to prove that there is no evidence for her succession, and therefore remain as the natural candidate. It’s a technique as old as politics.”

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