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PARIS — The Socialist politician who was elected the first female mayor of Paris Sunday is a low-key former labor inspector who rode her predecessor’s coattails to one of France’s top positions.

Anne Hidalgo, 54, beat off a stiff challenge from Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, 40, of the center-right Union for a Popular Movement to keep the capital in the hands of the President Francois Hollande’s Socialists for another six years, exit polls showed.

“Thank you Paris,” she tweeted in a first reaction.

The duel for a job that has served as a springboard to the presidency was widely welcomed as shaking up the macho world of French politics.

Hidalgo, who was outgoing mayor Bertrand Delanoe’s deputy for the past 13 years, campaigned on a theme of continuity, while Kosciusko-Morizet vowed to shake up a city she said had become “banal.”

Born in Spain, Hidalgo immigrated with her parents when she was a toddler. Her first home in France was in a housing project in the city of Lyon. She moved to Paris for work in 1984.

When Delanoe — one of France’s first openly gay politicians — was elected mayor in 2001, he made her his deputy in charge of gender equality.

Hidalgo’s biggest challenge will be to tackle the city’s housing crisis. Property prices in Paris have more than doubled in the past decade and remain high, even as the country is mired in an economic crisis.

DaveOnFlickr via Flickr

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