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With 15 days before the Olympics, Paris mayor says ‘relieved’ by far-right’s defeat

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With Paris set to welcome the world for the Summer Olympics, its mayor, Anne Hidalgo (Parti Socialiste, PS), expressed her “immense relief” at the defeat of the far right in snap elections and said she was reassured that the current government would remain in office for the Olympic period.

After years of preparation, France could have hardly imagined a tougher political context to celebrate the Olympic Games.

Although the event has been overshadowed by the political rollercoaster of the past month – the sudden dissolution of the National Assembly and snap elections unexpectedly won by a left-wing alliance – the games will go on and the opening ceremony will take place in Paris on Friday (26 July).

For Hidalgo, the worst has been avoided because the surging far-right Rassemblement national failed to come out on top, ending third, behind the leftist alliance and President Emmanuel Macron’s list. Neither of the three blocs has an absolute majority.

Speaking on the national radio station France Inter on Wednesday (10 July), she expressed her immense relief at not having a far-right prime minister” during this Olympic summer. The French capital is preparing to receive more than 15 million tourists during that period. 

Praising the work done by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin to secure the Games, amid concerns of possible terrorist threats, Hidalgo said she was reassured to know that the current government of Prime Minister Gabriel Attal was in place for the Olympic Games. 

“That the outgoing Attal government has been invested in managing day-to-day affairs during the Games period is very good. What’s important during the Games is that the Minister of the Interior, the Prefect of Police, should change as little as possible,” she said.

Parliamentarism in practice

“I’m happy that the Left has gained seats and votes. Obviously, it doesn’t have a majority. We’re going to find out that we need to give ourselves time for discussion, for discovering what true parliamentarianism means,” Hidalgo said, referring to the political instability shaking France, which is not used to building broad coalitions in Parliament. 

In her opinion, the time has come to implement real parliamentary democracy, like in other European countries, to move the country forward. But the “cordon sanitaire” around the far right must be preserved to prevent them from coming to power.  

“We need a republican roadblock to prevent the far right from capturing the main positions,” she said, referring to the democratic parties on the centre-left, centre, and centre-right.

“We have to show that this republican front works, all the way to the Assembly,” said Hidalgo, who intends to keep her promise by swimming in the Seine next week, ahead of the opening of the games.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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