Paris mayoral contenders line up for TV showdown
The seven main candidates vying to be mayor of Paris will appear in a live TV and radio debate on Tuesday night bidding to establish a plausible identity to woo the voters and sweep them into power.
Incumbent Anne Hidalgo is expected to face the stiffest challenge during the two rounds of voting from former ministers Rachida Dati and Agnès Buzyn.
Hidalgo, who has held the post since 2014, has staked her reputation on reducing the use of cars in Paris and increasing the number of cycle paths.
Opponents have accused her of high-handedness while the 60-year-old has suggested that sexism laces much of the criticism.
"I don't like people walking all over me," she told Le Parisien newspaper. "Certain things infuriate me, I can't stand lying, but I am honest and forthright,"
Hidalgo topped an Ipsos-Sopra Steria opinion poll released a few hours before the showdown which will be broadcast on France 3 Paris Ile-de-France TV channel as well as franceinfo and France Bleu Paris radio stations.
She got the nod from 26 per cent of the 950 respondents. Dati, a justice minister during Nicolas Sarkozy's reign as president, was second with 23 per cent and Agnès Buzyn, the candidate from President Emmanuel Macron's ruling LREM was third.
"We hope that the debate will give people the chance to see that Agnès Buzyn is a forthright woman who has a grasp of all the facts," said her campaign manager Paul Midy.
The former medical professor lunched with prime minister Edouard Philippe before the debate.
"I just wanted to stop off and spend time with her as a gesture of goodwill," said Philippe, who named her as health minister in May 2017. "When Agnès is in any kind of fight, I am there to support her."
According to the poll, the Green party candidate David Belliard and LREM MP Cédric Villani lead the group of minor candidates, which includes Danielle Simmonet, of the leftwing La France insoumise and Serge Federbusch of the Aimer Paris collective.
Federbusch, 60, says he wants to challenge Hidalgo on her record on security and the way migrants are treated in the city.
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