Published On: Tue, Oct 29th, 2019

Emmanuel Macron faces shock challenge from within own party in battle for Paris Mayor | World | News

Mr Macron’s hand-picked candidate Benjamin Griveaux beat rival Cédric Villani in the vote to become LREM’s contender for La Mairie. But a defiant Mr Villani promptly announced he would run as an independent, sparking fears he could split the LREM vote in the race for the key political position.

The prizewinning mathematician insists his campaign is in keeping with Mr Macron’s upstart movement which destroyed France’s traditional political parties and launched his presidency in 2017’s national elections.

Mr Villani told the Financial Times: “My approach is faithful to the LREM spirit, faithful to the reasons which made me engage in LREM.”

He insisted by running for Paris Mayor he was “urgently reclaiming what made the initial breath of LREM — a rejection of the old political order”.

France’s 2020 municipal elections will be the first domestic vote since Mr Macron rocked the country’s political establishment to its foundations by breaking away from François Hollande’s socialist party and sweeping to power with a raft of novice MPs attracted by his cross-party start-up movement.

The new intake included Mr Villani, who said the last two-and-a-half years had proved how difficult it was for a grassroots movement to retain its anti-establishment spirit in office.

The Macron presidency has been criticised as one of the most centralised in French postwar history with opponents suggesting his top-down way of governing fly in the face of his promises of democratic renewal.

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Mr Villani said: “LREM is not especially more virtuous than other parties.

“It quickly succumbed to the flaws of the other parties. This must be taken as a warning signal.”

Opinions polls suggest the fledgling Villani campaign is already showing signs of traction.

But Mr Villani has questioned his rival’s legitimacy after he was nominated as the LREM candidate by a small committee rather than in a party-wide vote.

And he saud many of his supporters are people who backed LREM from the beginning and have moved their allegiances to his independent campaign, rather than to Mr Griveaux.

He said: “They are not committing treason by following me, but on the contrary showing loyalty to the values of En Marche.”

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