Women are still achieving “first” accomplishments, especially in the areas of business and politics. Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet – better known as NKM – is preparing to enter the history books in Paris, France when she is presumably named the winner of the city’s mayoral race. If Morizet wins the race in March 2014, she will be the first woman mayor of Paris since the city was established 2,000 years ago.

The chances of her winning the race are remarkably high. Kosciusko-Morizet is the favorite to win the May 31 conservative primary and her presumed opponent will be Socialist Party candidate, Anne Hidalgo, who’s also a woman. The bid for mayor is heating up with the two women slinging shots over Paris’ tourism industry.

The Associated Press reports:

They have distinctly different visions of how Paris should serve its 2.3 million residents and the 29 million people who visit each year.

The race also includes other female candidates from smaller parties who are considered unlikely to win.

Kosciusko-Morizet has called for stores in the city’s main tourist districts to open on Sundays, saying that Paris is losing tour groups to London on the weekends because of requirements that shops close for a day. She also wants to crack down on the pickpockets who swarm the subways and major attractions such as the Louvre and Eiffel Tower.

“We have something to learn about hospitality,” she said.

Hidalgo counters that the French system works for its residents, saying that she doesn’t want Paris – which virtually shuts down on Sundays and in the evenings – to “look like Anglo-Saxon cities working 24 hours a day.”

Kosciusko-Morizet, 40, is an engineer with deep family roots in France’s political world – her grandfather was once ambassador to the United States and her father is mayor of a small town on the outskirts of the capital. She herself was mayor of the Paris suburb of Longjumeau until this year.

Kosciusko-Morizet also led the wide-ranging ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing under former President Nicolas Sarkozy, where she was seen as a tech-savvy and ambitious star in the conservative UMP party. She was the spokeswoman for Sarkozy’s failed presidential re-election campaign last year and remains a deputy in the National Assembly.

In contrast, Hidalgo, deputy to Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who is retiring after 12 years in office, is more reticent in public. At a recent visit to a street market, she remained firmly surrounded by aides who handed out literature. She refused multiple requests for an interview with The Associated Press, and only rarely appears on television or comments in French newspapers.

Though the women differ on several issues, they also align on others including public housing and gay marriage.

This is a historic time for Paris. Gael Silman, a political analyst, sees both candidates as progressive picks for France.

“This situation – where most of the candidates are women – is unprecedented in France,” he told the Associated Press. The women “are quite young and vibrant, with a modern style – completely the opposite of the usual profile of the old, grizzled, lifeless politician. They totally fit the Parisian voters.”

The women will begin campaigning after the May 31 primary.

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