Villani slams Paris mayoral rival Buzyn's 'right-wing' platform
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The platform of the ruling party’s nominee for Paris mayor, Agnès Buzyn, "appeals to the right", according to Cédric Villani, the dissident candidate who will be running against his former party in the race to the Hotel de Ville.
Villani was excluded from President Emmanuel Macron’s LaREM party after refusing to back the previous candidate Benjamin Griveaux, who was forced to withdraw in disgrace over a leaked sex video.
When Buzyn revealed her platform to the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday, three weeks before the first round of voting on 15 March, Villani was quick to go on the offensive.
He slammed his rival’s programme, saying her priorities were short-sighted and identical to those of conservative candidate Rachida Dati.
"I see a platform that focuses on safety and cleanliness – it obviously appeals to the right," said the mathematician and MP, who defines himself as "neither right nor left".
He dismissed the two themes as “obligatory”. Indeed, they feature in his own platform, which plans for a municipal police force and advances in artificial intelligence to help clean the streets.
'Paris of the future'
“But the real question is, what are we going to do about it?” he asked. "Yes, we need to fix the Paris of today. We have to maintain a high level of security and cleanliness. But we also have to prepare the Paris of tomorrow, a Paris that will be greener, more democratic, a Paris focused on education and knowledge,” he said, assuring that he was the sole candidate with his eye on the future.
Incumbent socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo found common ground with Villani, criticising the “conservatism” of the ruling centrist party’s candidate.
She added that both Buzyn and Dati failed to address the climate emergency, recalling her efforts to cut pollution by reducing vehicles in Paris and underlining future plans to plant 170,000 trees in the capital in the coming years.
The latest Ifop-Fiducial poll, published on Sunday, gives Hidalgo a 2-point lead in the first round of voting, with 24 percent. Rachida Dati sits second ahead of Buzyn, with the Greens candidate David Belliard further afield.
Despite polls systematically placing him fifth behind the rest of the candidates, Villani insists he has his eyes set on victory in the elections, which conclude on 22 March.
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