Anne Hidalgo, just after hearing of her victory. :: JOEL SAGET/AFP
She chose to live in Paris and now Paris has just chosen her. Last Sunday the Parisians voted for her to become the first woman mayor to govern the city council. Anne Hidalgo was born in San Fernando (Cadiz) in 1959, and moved to France in 1961 with her parents in their search for a better life.
Emigration is a constant in the family history of the new mayor of Paris, whose story is similar to those of many Andalusians who left their homeland, first for political reasons and then for economic ones.
Anne’s grandfather was born in Antequera and was forced to abandon his birthplace at the end of the Civil War to save his life and found refuge in France. It was not for long though. After a few years he made his way back to Spain and ended up in jail for a long period.
Years later, the Hidalgo family crossed the Pyrenees back to France, this time for financial reasons. Anne was then called Ana and was two years old. The beginning was not easy. The family settled in Lyon, and when they got the chance they moved to Paris.
The name change came when she was 14 years old and got a French passport. However the change was not deep enough for her to forget her roots. Quite the opposite: Anne stayed loyal to her identity and ideology, the same that had taken her grandfather to prison and that led her father to join the Socialist Party in his youth.
Back in 2001, when the socialists managed to win the municipal elections for the first time in 130 years, the now mayor revealed that she always takes advantage of her holidays to return to her homeland and meet up with her family.
“Ihave been to Antequera several times; Ireally like visiting El Torcal,” she told SUR then from her deputy mayor’s office, with a view of Paris in all its monumental splendour, separated from the mayor’s office by an 80-metre-long corridor.
Not long after that she bought a house in Chiclana, where she now regularly enjoys her summers. In 2006 she was awarded the medal of Andalucía, an occasion she still remembers emotionally. Three years previously she had applied to hold two passports to reflect her double French-Spanish identity.
Anne is not the only one who maintains her links with the land of her birth. Her father, Antonio, returned to San Fernando, where he took the last place on the list of socialist candidates in the 2007 municipal elections. The ticket was headed by Fernando López Gil, the current delegate for the Andalusian government in Cadiz.
However his electoral participation was not quite as resounding as that of his daughter who has now walked that 80-metre corridor that separated her from the mayor’s seat. Now her office window overlooks the Seine.