Reports that Jacques Chirac will support Francois Hollande in the April 22 presidential election are not compeletly surprising, given the acrimony between the former president and his successor, Nicolas Sarkozy:
Visiting the Correze administrative region where Hollande is president of the general council in June last year, Chirac himself – perhaps jokingly – that he would support the Socialist candidate.
“But he wasn’t joking,” Chirac biographer Jean-Luc Barré told BFM-TV on Tuesday referring to the former president’s comments. “I saw him ten days ago and he told me he was going to vote for Francois Hollande.”
Barré told Le Parisien that Chirac admired Hollande’s “radical socialism” and was attracted to the “social Gaulism” that he felt was strong in Hollande’s political agenda.
Chirac was always a man of survival than a man of ideology, but the concept that he would admire a Parti socialiste presidential candidate strikes for his “radical socialism” strikes me as a little suspect, given that word of his support comes third-hand. It will be interesting to see if any other sources close to Chirac confirm the support in the next week.
But Chirac has long been less than enthusiastic about Sarkozy, who served as Chirac’s interior minister from 2005 to 2007, but who earned Chirac’s enmity — he had once been a rising star under Chirac’s patronage — when he endorsed Édouard Balladur in 1995 over Chirac in the presidential election.
Chirac, who remains a popular ex-president of France and who served as prime minister in the 1970s and 1980s before ascending to the presidency in 1995, was just last December convicted of corruption while he served as mayor of Paris in the 1980s. The conviction, which did not see Chirac serve any jail time, have not significantly harmed the ex-president’s popularity.