From chambermaid to MP: Rachel Keke’s journey to the Assemblée Nationale

The NUPES candidate was elected in the 7th constituency of Val-de-Marne, defeating Roxana Maracineanu, former sports minister.

By Mustapha Kessous
June 20, 2022

Her day of glory arrived. That evening, even the sky seemed to want to congratulate her: Lightning bolts lit up the night like fireworks a few minutes after her victory, won by 177 votes. But the margin didn’t matter On Sunday, June 19, Rachel Keke was elected MP for the 7th constituency of Val-de-Marne with 50.30% of the votes cast.

Backed by the left-wing Nouvelle Union Populaire Ecologique et Sociale (NUPES), the candidate with an indelible smile beat her opponent from the presidential majority, Roxana Maracineanu (49.70%). “Tomorrow, she will receive a tricolor sash [worn by MPs], like on TV,” said Abass Fofana, her nephew, still stunned by the emotion. “You’re going to shake the Assemblée Nationale, don’t cry,” said a friend to Ms. Keke, whom she hugged tightly. “My victory is historic,” said the newly elected MP, who describes herself as “a warrior.”

So, anything is possible. A 48-year-old chambermaid can access one of the most prestigious French political offices by beating Emmanuel Macron’s former minister of sports. “Politics is accessible to all, provided that you get involved,” said Stephanie Daumin, the Communist mayor of Chevilly-Larue, where Ms. Keke lives. “We were told that the constituency was unwinnable; we just had go for it,” said Sylvain Mailler, her campaign manager. “She represents the Republic, a Republic that has trouble promoting people like her. It’s a small miracle.”

At the city theater, friends and family, activists and unknown people wanted to kiss their MP and dance by her side. Many cameras were there to record this historic moment. Ms. Keke also saw lots of journalists, on May 25, 2021, outside the Ibis-Batignolles hotel where she worked in Paris. They had come to record, for posterity, her victory and that of her 19 other colleagues against the Accor group and its cleaning subcontractor STN, thus putting an end to 22 months of struggle.

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