PARIS – President Jacques Chirac's (search) medical condition is "very satisfactory," a military hospital said Sunday, two days after he was admitted for a blood vessel problem that disrupted his vision.
Chirac, 72, will remain under medical supervision for several more days, Val-de-Grace (search) hospital said in a statement. "His general state and his medical report are very satisfactory," it said.
Chirac's wife, Bernadette, was seen leaving the Paris hospital Sunday afternoon, but she did not speak to reporters. French radio reports said she had returned earlier in the day from a vacation in southeast France, appearing to indicate she was not overly concerned.
The presidential palace did not provide immediate comment. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin (search) said Chirac was in "good form" when the two men talked at the hospital Saturday.
The president's hospitalization has put attention on possible changes in France's political scene, which has been dominated by Chirac for a decade. Opinion polls have his popularity near an all-time low and even some members of his conservative party are distancing themselves.
Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, the popular leader of Chirac's Union for a Popular Movement (search), went before party faithful Sunday to pursue his quest for the presidency in the 2007 election.
In a boisterous speech that drew cheers in the Atlantic coastal resort of La Baule, Sarkozy promised a "healthy, loyal and quality" competition in the race.
"Nobody, really nobody, will stop me from completing the mission that you have set for me," he said, calling for a "strategy of rupture" — a seeming call to break with policies of Chirac, his former mentor.
Sarkozy is often depicted in polls and French media as the front-runner for the 2007 contest. But polls show the popularity of Villepin, a fellow conservative viewed as Chirac's top protege, has been rising since he became prime minister in May.
"We need to invent a new French model," Sarkozy said, offering a contrast to recent calls from Villepin only to "modernize" France's economic strategy, which is known for costly social protections.
Although Sarkozy has never hidden his presidential ambitions, choosing a candidate for the election will be up to the party. There are still questions as to whether Chirac will run for a third term, or whether Villepin will enter the race in 2007.