Jacques Chirac, the former President of France, has criticized his successor Nicolas Sarkozy in memoirs that covers his term in office, ahead of next year’s presidential election.
Chirac, now 78 years old, ruled France from 1995 through 2007, when Sarkozy was elected. He has up until now, kept silent about his feelings towards Sarkozy.
Chirac, who has known Sarkozy since Chirac was mayor of Paris in the late 1970s, labeled his fellow UMP party colleague as irritable, rash, overconfident and allowing for no doubt, least of all regarding himself.
He also called Sarkozy “nervous, impetuous” and “antagonistic” – among the reasons he refused to make him his Prime Minister.
However, Chirac also described Sarkozy as one of the most gifted politicians of his generation.
Chirac wrote: “[Sarkozy and I] do not share the same vision of France, we do not agree on the basics”
Chirac accused his successor of “stigmatizing, exacerbating antagonizes and setting one category [of people] against another” (most likely referring to comments Sarkozy made about young Arab immigrants rioting in the Paris suburbs).
Contrarily, Chirac heaped praise on Francois Hollande, the leading French Socialist, who could potentially become Sarkozy’s opponent in the 2012 elections. He called Hollande a “true statesman.”
Chirac also mocked Sarkozy’s military career, which consisted of a 12-month compulsory service in 1978. In contrast, Chirac fought as an officer in the war in Algeria.
It is likely that Chirac is taking some revenge against Sarkozy for past insults and slights. For example, Sarkozy did not offer to support Chirac during the 1995 election. After the 2002 election, Sarkozy reportedly mocked Chirac’s love of Japanese culture and sumo wrestling (Sarkozy supposedly said: “’How can one be fascinated by those fights of obese guys with brylcreemed buns?”)
Chirac suggests that he considered firing Sarkozy when he was cabinet minister, but decided not to in order to avoid a confrontation.
Sarkozy also did not even mention Chirac in a speech he gave after he won the 2007 presidential election. Chirac reportedly used dirty tricks to undermine Sarkozy’s successful 2007 bid for the presidency (something the book avoids discussing).
Oddly, Chirac is now a popular figure in France, something he did not enjoy during his two terms in office. Indeed, a poll taken last summer by Ifop [French Institute of Public Opinion] indicated that Chirac is the country’s most admired political figure (Sarkozy finished at #32 in the poll).
However, Chirac himself is currently embroiled in a corruption trial which points to wrongdoing going back several decades. He is, among other things, facing charges of embezzling public funds while serving as the Parisian mayor.
Referring to the corruption issue, Chirac wrote that the allegations were “founded on rumor, more or less orchestrated press campaigns” and “unscrupulously fabricated claims”.