Chirac's wife says woman could be next president

21st February 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 21, 2006 (AFP) - The wife of President Jacques Chirac paid an unexpected tribute to Ségolène Royal, the Socialist frontrunner for next year's presidential elections, saying that "women's time has come", French newspapers reported on Tuesday.

PARIS, Feb 21, 2006 (AFP) - The wife of President Jacques Chirac paid an unexpected tribute to Ségolène Royal, the Socialist frontrunner for next year's presidential elections, saying that "women's time has come", French newspapers reported on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a French state visit to India, Bernadette Chirac, 72, described Royal as a "serious candidate" who "could even win", according to Le Figaro and Le Parisien newspapers.

Royal "has a look" and "that counts for a lot these days," said the French leader's wife, before adding: "Her Socialist colleagues won't give her an easy ride — but women's time has come."

"In future there will be more and more women giving orders to men. That may be tough on them, but that's the way it is," Bernadette Chirac added.

Royal, 52, has emerged in a string of recent polls as the Socialist Party's (PS) most popular politician, and the only one seen as capable of challenging the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement in next year's elections.

Her meteoric ascent has caused some friction inside the PS, not least because one of the people she has eclipsed is her own partner —  and the father of her four children —  party first secretary François Hollande.

A weekend poll published by Le Parisien newspaper showed that she was the preferred PS candidate for 56 percent of party sympathisers, as well as for 42 percent of the broader population.

But the overall favourite, according to opinion polls, remains the centre-eight Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who is expected to vie with Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin for Chirac's succession.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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