Marseille elects its first ever female mayor

Marseille has elected its first female mayor, Michèle Rubirola, who is also the first left-wing and green-focused leader the city has had in 25 years. Already, she has called for “a greener city” and an “end to nepotism”.

Published Last updated

Ms Rubirola, of the Printemps Marseillais (PM) party was elected on Saturday July 4, with a majority of 51, beating opponents Samia Ghali (ex-Parti Socialiste, PS), and Guy Tessier (Les Républicains, LR).

She is the first female mayor of Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône, ‎Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur), and the first left-wing leader to take the role after Jean-Claude Gaudin (LR), stepped down after 25 years. He had not sought re-election.

Her term will last until 2026.

In her first speech after the election, Ms Rubirola called for an end to “cronyism and nepotism” which, she said, “have had their time”.

She also thanked her competitor, Samia Ghali, who - realising she would not win - called on voters to support Ms Rubirola instead.

The 63-year-old doctor - who has worked in some of the city’s more deprived neighborhoods - also addressed people such as shopkeepers, immigrants, young people, and those living in poverty, in a city where the poverty level is at 25%.

A left-wing voice, she has said she will focus on ecological issues, as well as access to housing.

Before standing for mayor, Ms Rubirola was almost unknown on the political circuit.

In her first speech, she said: “As many of you know, [in the campaign] I preferred to confront ideas, rather than opposing people. And in this chamber, as outside it, I will continue to do the same.

“That is why I would like future debates to stay respectful, and finally deal with deep problems, [such as] cronyism and nepotism, which have had their day. This is a project for a greener, fairer, and more democratic city.”

Related stories

Greens surge to victory in French local elections

France's new PM is man behind coronavirus reopening strategy

Stay informed:
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France