Chirac was in Sarran in the Corrèze region where he was a member of parliament several times and where his wife, Bernadette, is a local councillor. François Hollande is the current MP for the same region. The two were appearing at the Chirac Museum in the town to open an exhibition of chinese art.
According to the Journal du Dimanche, Chirac started by saying that he “likes Alain Juppé but as he won’t be standing I’ll vote for you”. He was later filmed repeating that he would vote for Hollande as the two walked around the museum. Hollande looked both amused and slightly embarrassed at the remark.
Chirac later claimed his comments were just “Corrèzien humour” and that it shouldn’t be interpreted any other way. However, in a week where Chirac made some stinging remarks about his successor, Nicolas Sarkozy, many have seen the remarks as yet another attack.
Socialist MP Jean-Marie Le Guen told BFM TV that Chirac “expressed the views of many French people who don’t want to see Sarkozy re-elected in 2012.”
At the same time, a new opinion poll published today in the Metro newspaper puts Hollande slightly ahead of his main Socialist rival, Martine Aubry. The poll asks for satisfaction ratings for the candidates expected to stand in the primaries that will choose the Socialists’ presidential candidate for the 2012 election. Hollande is just ahead on 54% while Aubry is on 53%. Trailing them are Manuel Valls (41%), Arnaud Montebourg (34%) and Ségolène Royal (33%).