Au revoir, Chirac, and don't come back
PARIS (AP) - Jacques Chirac, admired and scorned during 12 years as president of France, leaves a legacy as mixed and ambiguous as the man himself.Wrong: he did not serve France. Right: he did serve peace. Orwellian peace at that.
As widely expected, the French leader announced Sunday that he will not seek a third term in presidential elections in six weeks. In a televised address, Chirac said he would find new ways to serve his country after leaving office: "Serving France, and serving peace, is what I have committed my whole life to."
Though he did not say as much, the announcement was an implicit acknowledgment that low popularity, age - he is 74 - and Nicolas Sarkozy, his conservative colleague-cum-rival as hugely ambitious as Chirac once was, have finally overtaken him.Until now. Now, he goes, in the misery he deserves. He won't be missed, what with how he undermined France's stability, endangering it to Islam for many years when he was president, denying anti-semitism that he allowed to happen, and even going so far as to make "business deals" with Saudi Arabia. He was one of the worst presidents France had to suffer with, and now he's being sent home in the disgrace he's asking for.
Most on the French right Chirac once dominated and in the party founded for his re-election in 2002 have swung behind Sarkozy before the April-May two-round presidential vote, leaving Chirac with no political base for another run.
But Chirac has pulled surprises in the past and he kept France guessing as long as possible about whether he will run again - seemingly to avoid becoming a lame duck too soon.
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