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Scandal-hit Chirac settles old scores in memoirs

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-11-08

With harsh words for his old rivals, fondness for his family, and an evasive approach when it comes to discussing Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president hits the front pages again with the publication of the first volume of his memoirs.

The first volume of Jacques Chirac’s memoirs, entitled "Chaque pas doit être un but" (which translates roughly into “Every Step Must Have a Purpose”), is without a doubt the most eagerly awaited political book of the French literary season.

The weekly news magazine “Le Point” was supposed to have exclusive rights to the juiciest excerpts of the book, but TV programme “L’édition spéciale” scooped rivals by revealing a few passages on Monday. Other media organisations followed suit on Tuesday. “These leaks put us on the spot, especially since no bookstore has received the book yet,” explains Catherine Bourget, a press attaché from the book’s publishing house, Nil Éditions.

The parts of the book that have already been published evoke, most notably, the author’s admiration for his Socialist presidential predecessor, François Mitterand, as well as his affection for his political mentor, Georges Pompidou.

Chirac explores his rivalry with Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, for whom he served as prime minister from 1974 to 1976, describing him as a man capable of holding a “tenacious and tireless grudge.”

We also discover – albeit somewhat predictably -- his resentment towards a former “friend of 30 years,” Edouard Balladur, whom he calls “cold and calculating.” Balladur famously stood against his old friend in the 1995 presidential election, a betrayal Chirac never forgave.

Chirac is more restrained when writing about ex-protégé President Nicolas Sarkozy, whom he calls “nervous, zealous, and hungry to take action.”

What’s more surprising, coming from someone who has largely remained guarded about his private life, is the intimate glimpse provided of Chirac, who heaps praise on daughters Claude and Laurence and pays vibrant homage to wife Bernadette. “Her frankness and opinions can be tough – sometimes too tough for my taste – especially when it comes to me. But her advice and her criticisms have often enlightened me,” he confides.

Date created : 2009-11-05

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