Chirac Didn’t Trust Sarkozy to Be Prime Minister, Memoirs Say

Former French President Jacques Chirac
Former French President Jacques Chirac. Photographer: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

Former French President Jacques Chirac didn’t pick Nicolas Sarkozy to be his prime minister because he thought Sarkozy would undermine him, according to Chirac’s memoirs.

Chirac, 78, overruled advisers pushing Sarkozy after re-election in 2002 because he couldn’t expect “loyalty” and “transparency” from Sarkozy, who is 23 years his junior, according to extracts in the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur.

“The risk would have been finding myself very quickly confronted with a head of government ready to affirm his independence, to dispute my prerogatives without even trying to hide that he’s gunning to be my successor,” Chirac wrote.

Chirac had first-hand experience in such battles. He was President Valery Giscard d’Estaing’s prime minister from 1974 to 1976 and challenged Giscard d’Estaing’s re-election bid in 1981.

Chirac chose Jean-Pierre Raffarin as his prime minister in 2002 and Dominique de Villepin in 2005. After Chirac completed his second term, Sarkozy won the 2007 presidential elections.

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