Bernadette Chirac: Sarkozy will be back

The wife of former French president Jacques Chirac is predicting a return to politics for Nicolas Sarkozy.

Bernadette Chirac: Sarkozy will be back
Photo: Yannick le Bris

In media interviews on Friday, Bernadette Chirac made comments in support of Sarkozy, the centre-right UMP president who was ousted from power by Socialist François Hollande in elections earlier this year.

“The current government needs to have the time express itself and to show how it can tackle this crisis head on,” Chirac, 79, told the Europe 1 radio station.

“And later, later I think that Nicolas Sarkozy will return.”

The former first lady expressed admiration for the qualities shown by the man who succeeded her husband as France’s president in 2007.

“He has a very great capacity — he is a relentless worker,” she said.

“He showed from the beginning of the crisis the speed with which could bring together all the bankers.”

Her comments come as President Hollande faces a dip in popularity amidst mounting unemployment and economic challenges.

Mrs Chirac said that she remains in contact with Sarkozy, who she publicly supported in the last election even while her husband remained non-commital, or according to some reports supportive of Hollande.

“I’ve known him well for a long time,” she said.

“I also know Carla (Sarkozy’s wife and former supermodel) and I am very lucky in that.”
Mrs Chirac said she had seen Sarkozy twice since she returned from summer holidays “but we did not talk about politics — it’s not the time for him.”

“He is certainly reflecting a lot (. . . ) he is maybe even going to write something, I don’t know.”

In an interview with Le Parisien, published on Friday, Mrs Chirac spoke on the same theme.

“I believe that the French are going to seek out Sarkozy,” she told the newspaper.

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Here’s the latest in France’s presidential race

President Francois Hollande warned would-be successors they should cleave closely to Europe as it was "impossible" that France could contemplate going its own way.

Here's the latest in France's presidential race
French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in Reunion. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Here are three things that happened in the campaign on Saturday:

Let them throw eggs

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon, under pressure over allegations of fake parliamentary jobs for the family which have hit his poll ratings, received a chaotic reception on a trip to the southern Basque region where some protesters pelted him with eggs.

Fillon, who has accused Hollande of helping foment a smear campaign against him amid claims his wife was on the public payroll but did little for her salary, ran the gauntlet in the small town of Cambo-les-Bains.

Locals demanding an amnesty for radical Basque nationalists banged pots and pans, hurled abuse and objects.

“The more they demonstrate the more the French will back me,” Fillon insisted before meeting with local officials.

Warning on Europe

President Francois Hollande warned would-be successors they should cleave closely to Europe as it was “impossible” that France could contemplate going its own way.

In a barb aimed at far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, Hollande said: “So some want to quit Europe? Well let them show the French people they would be better off alone fighting terrorism without the indispensable European coordination…

“Let them show that without the single currency and (single) market there would be more jobs, activity and better purchasing power,” Hollande said in Rome where he attended the ceremonies marking the EU's 60th anniversary.

Le Pen, favoured in opiniion polls to reach the second-round run-off vote in May, wants France to dump the euro, but Hollande said that would lead to devaluation and loss of purchasing power as he warned against nationalist populism.

'Not Father Christmas'

French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, seen in polls as beating Marine Le Pen in the May 7 run-off, was in Reunion, a French overseas department in the Indian Ocean, where alongside discussing local issues, he told voters he was “not Father Christmas.”

“I don't have the solution to all problems and I am not Father Christmas,” the 39-year-old former economy minister and banker admitted, saying he had not come to make “promises.”

He indicated he would focus on education as a priority on an island where around one in five youths are illiterate.