Former conservative French President Jacques Chirac will vote for the socialist Francois Hollande in Sunday's presidential elections instead of his successor and one-time protege, the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.
Jean-Luc Barre, an author and friend who helped Chirac write his memoirs, told the newspaper Le Parisien on Monday that Chirac's June statement that he would rather vote for a socialist than Sarkozy was not a joke, despite the French media's coverage of it as such.
Jacques Chirac is true to himself when he says he will vote for Francois Hollande, Barre said, according to the Telegraph.
I visit him frequently, we have lunch and dinner together. After four years of discussions I believe I'm one of those who knows best how he thinks.
As a conservative, Chirac's political views are much closer to those of the center-right than Sarkozy's, and both are members of the Union for a Popular Movement party. But in recent years, Chirac has made his dislike of his successor clear, writing in his memoirs that Sarkozy is irritable, rash, impetuous, disloyal, ungrateful and un-French.
We do not share the same vision of France, we do not agree on the basics, Chirac wrote, with the help of Barre.
The comments, in part, stem from old wounds, and Chirac is still unable to forgive Sarkozy for making fun of his love of Japan and sumo wrestling, which Sarkozy did while serving as interior minister, according to the Independent. Chirac's memoirs also contain more serious charges, and the ex-president blames Sarkozy for the 2005 riots in Paris suburbs.
Chirac, who was briefly a communist before becoming joining Georges Pompidou's Gaullist-conservative government in the 1960s, has also found some common ground with the Socialist candidate, and Hollande was instrumental in passing Chirac's ban of the Islamic headscarf, or hijab.
While Chirac's son and daughter are also supporting Hollande, his wife Bernadette Chirac, who has worked with the sitting first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, on an campaign to end illiteracy, is supporting Sarkozy, the BBC reported.
Before the campaign began, Chirac's first choice for president was Minister of Foreign Affairs Alain Juppé, according France24. Juppé, who is not running, was Prime Minister under Chirac from 1995 to 1997.
Despite Hollande taking an early lead, the two candidates are now tied in the polls with 27 percent support each in the run-up to the first round of voting, according to a poll by Ipsos-Logica.