Former President Jacques Chirac will switch sides and vote for the Socialist candidate Franois Hollande in the French presidential election this weekend, it was reported yesterday.
Mr Chirac's friend, Jean-Luc Barr said the former President would defy the tribal taboos of French politics and vote for the Socialist challenger on Sunday rather than his estranged former protg, President Nicolas Sarkozy.
It is believed that Mr Chirac's daughter Claude - who had a romantic entanglement with Mr Sarkozy many years ago - also intends to cross the right-left political divide and vote for the front- running Mr Hollande this weekend. So do several other members of the "Chirac Clan", including his chief political adviser, who was seen at a Hollande rally last week.
Only Mr Chirac's wife Bernadette, who is campaigning actively for Mr Sarkozy, is refusing to abandon the centre-right camp, which was dominated by her husband for more than two decades.
Asked about the switch during a radio interview yesterday, Mr Sarkozy said that it was "sad" that the former presidential "entourage" should try to "manipulate" him in this way. Mr Sarkozy suggested that Mr Chirac, 79, who is suffering from a mild form of Alzheimer's disease, was no longer capable of having an opinion. In an interview with Le Parisien, Mr Barr, a historian and the ghost writer of Mr Chirac's autobiography, said he had frequent discussions with the former President and knew that he intended to vote for Mr Hollande. "No one knows his opinions better than me," he said.
The Chirac vote for the centre-left candidate - and what seems to be a deliberate decision to place it in the public domain - is partly an act of political revenge. In 2007, Mr Sarkozy campaigned as much against his retiring boss, President Chirac, as he did against the Socialist candidate, Sgolne Royal. …