Emmanuel Macron (Photo: Julien Mattia/Le Pictorium Agency via ZUMA/dpa)
PARIS, July 11 (dpa) -- French President Emmanuel Macron's centrist party Wednesday picked a long-standing Macron loyalist to run for mayor of Paris in local elections next year.
Benjamin Griveaux, 41, beat prominent mathematician Cedric Villani for the nomination to take on Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo, 60, who plans to seek a second term.
Villani accepted defeat before the executive bureau of La Republique en Marche (The Republic on the Move, LREM) announced its decision, saying the choice of Griveaux had been "known long in advance."
The presidential party's nomination process has been criticized as undemocratic, as ordinary members have no role in selecting mayoral candidates.
Griveaux, who served as minister and government spokesman until resigning to seek the mayoral nomination, called for a "dignified campaign, without any personal attacks or gutter talk."
Macron's party, formed in 2016, will be contesting its first local elections in 2020. Local mayoral positions are a key building block for French political parties.
Hidalgo is the most prominent remaining Socialist Party office-holder in France. The party of Macron's predecessor, Francois Hollande, has had a string of disastrous results including losing all but 30 of its 280 seats in the 2017 parliamentary elections.