Women race for Paris

With only a week before the municipal elections in France two women are battling it out to become the next mayor of the capital. The present socialist deputy mayor Anna Hidalgo is standing against Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (often known as just NKM), a one-time spokesperson of right-wing president Nicolas Sarkozy and former minister of the environment.

Whoever wins will become the first woman mayor of Paris. The city is often used as a springboard to the presidency and it is one of the top political jobs in the country.

The first ballot is on 23 March, with the run off a week later on 30 March. The mayor is chosen by the 163 city council members elected from local party lists in the 20 Paris arrondissements. There are six candidates running for the top job.

Hidalgo may be feeling the brunt of the present low ratings of the Socialist president François Hollande but she has been popular as the deputy mayor and has the advantage of being able to show that she can manage local administration, something that her rival Kosciusko-Morizet can not. NKM prefers to present herself as the middle class answer to rising crime, immigration and environmental worries.

It is possible that Kosciusko-Morizet who was doing well in the polls at the beginning of the year, could come out ahead in the first round of voting. But in recent weeks she has been losing ground and she is more likely of the two to be hurt by far right Front National candidate Wallerand St Just.

Recent polls are giving Hidalgo as the winner in the second round with about 52 per cent of the votes.