Chirac quits frontline politics

France's president will not seek re-election next month, after a 45-year career.

    Opinion polls indicated Chirac would have been beaten if he had run for a record third mandate [AP]

    Social tensions

    But on the domestic front he introduced few meaningful reforms and leaves behind a difficult legacy for his successor, with the French economy underachieving and social tensions simmering in deprived suburbs.

    Opinion polls have indicated for months that Chirac would have been beaten if he had run for a record third mandate in the April/May election, but he had kept silent over his plans, apparently to avoid being regarded as a "lame duck" president.

    All three leading contenders to succeed Chirac, Segolene Royal, the presidential candidate for the Socialists, Francois Bayrou, the head of the Union for French Democracy and conservative Nicolas Sarkozy of the ruling UMP party, are in their 50s and all have pledged to break with the politics of the past 25 years.

    Patrice de Beer, a former editor of the Le Monde newspaper, told Al Jazeera that is was common knowledge that Chirac and Sarkozy do not like each other and that Sarkozy began his campaign by distancing himself from Chirac's 12 years as president.

    He said: "I don't see Chirac supporting Sarkozy with any enthusiasm."

    The last survivor of a political generation that started out in the postwar governments of General Charles de Gaulle, Chirac's career was marred by allegations of corruption, which he always denied, dating from his 18 years as mayor of Paris.


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.