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Friday, March 31, 2023

Former hotel housekeeper aims to give voice to French workers

A former hotel housekeeper fighting for the rights of her co-workers has become a symbol of the recent revival of France’s left, which is expected to emerge as the main opposition in the French parliament to the government of President Emmanuel Macron.

Rachel Keke, 48, is set to win election as an MP when France holds a decisive second round of parliamentary elections on Sunday. He finished first in his district with over 37% of the votes in the first round of the election. His nearest rival, Macron’s former sports minister, Roxana Maracinenu, received less than 24%.

Macron’s centrist coalition is projected to win the most seats in the National Assembly, but may fall short of an outright majority. In that case, a new coalition made up of the Hard Left, Socialists and Greens could make Macron’s political life difficult because voting in the National Assembly laws is the key.

Keke, a black mother of five who hails from Ivory Coast and immigrated to France 20 years ago, visited Fresnes, a suburb southeast of Paris, this week to hand out passengers and greet people near an elementary school. appeared confident to encourage them to vote for him. sunday.

Keke, who acquired French citizenship in 2015, knows that she represents more than the face of her campaign. If she wins a place in a parliament dominated by white people, many of them holding jobs in senior management, it could represent a turning point in the National Assembly that reflects a more diverse cross-section of the French population.

“I’m proud to tell black women that anything is possible,” she told the Associated Press.

Electoral Posters Of Presidential Candidates Roxana Maracinenu And Rachel Keke Can Be Seen In This, South Of Paris, On June 16, 2022.

Electoral posters of presidential candidates Roxana Maracinenu and Rachel Keke can be seen in This, south of Paris, on June 16, 2022.

Keke worked as a hotel chambermaid for more than 15 years and eventually climbed up the grade ladder to the next job, becoming a governess, managing teams of cleaners. But when she started working for a hotel in northwestern Paris, she saw how the demands of cleaning hotel rooms posed a threat to the physical and mental health of those she supervised.

She thinks that “it is time” for essential workers to raise their voice in Parliament. “Most deputies do not know the value of essential workers who are suffering,” said the candidate, who has recurrent motion tendonitis in his hand due to cleaning work and still manages the hotel housekeeper.

In 2019, with about 20 chambermaids, who were mostly expatriate women from sub-Saharan Africa, Keke battled French hotel giant Accor to get better work and paid conditions. He led a 22-month riotous strike that ended with a pay hike.

The fierce but successful fight by the hotel staff inspired many. Formed by the party of hard-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Keke agreed to run in the parliamentary race “to be the voice of the idiot”.

“The people who take public transport at 4 am are mostly migrants. I stand up for them too,” she said.

She joined Mélechon’s party, France Unboed, during the presidential campaign, which resulted in Macron’s re-election in May, and then part of the New Popular Ecological and Social Union, a left-wing coalition trying to curtail the presidential power in parliament. Became.

If elected, Keke would be in a position to endorse one of the key items on the coalition’s platform: raising France’s monthly minimum wage from about 1,300 ($1,361) to 1,500 euros ($1,570).

She claimed that her opponent “doesn’t stand a chance.” Marascenenu, 47, a former swimming world champion who served in Macron’s government, doesn’t think so.

Supporters Of Radical Leftist Leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon Prepare Election Posters And Glue Ahead Of The Second Round Of Legislative Elections In Strasbourg, Eastern France, On June 14, 2022.

Supporters of radical leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon prepare election posters and glue ahead of the second round of legislative elections in Strasbourg, eastern France, on June 14, 2022.

Campaigning on Thursday in Thias, a farmers market town in the Paris suburbs, he tried to convince residents who were often skeptical about the importance of Sunday’s vote. According to opinion polls, traditional right-wing voters are expected to widely support Macron’s candidates in places where his own party did not qualify for a second round.

“There are some (voters) who are interested in elections from a national perspective. They want Emmanuel Macron and the majority to be able to rule,” Maracinenu said. “Some others are clearly against Jean-Luc Mélenchon.”

Born in Romania, Maracineanu moved to France with her family in 1984 and became French seven years later at the age of 16. She became the first world champion in French swimming history and a silver medalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

“I will not go to the National Assembly as a world champion, and Mrs. Keke will not go as a cleaning lady,” she said. “You go to the National Assembly to become an MP. The individual trajectories are certainly interesting and they are worth talking about but…the choice is about an agenda. ,

Only one of them will be elected on Sunday.

The first round of elections gave a major boost to the left-wing coalition, which ended in the neck with Macron’s coalition at the national level. The French president needs a clear, if not an absolute majority, to implement his agenda, which includes tax cuts and raising the retirement age.

One unexpected factor for both camps: the expected low turnout.

In the first round, less than half of voters went to the polls, echoing the disenchantment expressed by Macron, many with the establishment and everyday politics.

“I come from a country where you couldn’t vote or when you did, it was useless, and it was always the same candidate who was elected under the dictatorship of Romania before 1989. I know it’s a democratic How important is the ritual and that’s what I try and remind people,” Marasinenu said.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

World Nation News Desk
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