Giscard d'Estaing joins 'the immortals'

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The Independent Online

Valery Giscard d'Estaing, the former French president, joined the ranks of "the immortals" yesterday.

Despite opposition from a handful of members - who still resent his political manoeuvres to become president in 1974 - M. Giscard d'Estaing, 77, was elected as a member for life to the Académie Française, the organisation which pronounces on French language and culture.

M. Giscard d'Estaing was voted in 37 to 3 by the existing members of the academy.They are called "the immortals" because the academy's founder, Cardinal Richelieu, inscribed "to immortality" on the academy's seal.

Tradition demands the former president go to the the presidential residence, the Elysée Palace - his old home - to be greeted by President Jacques Chirac. But that could prove difficult as the two men are known to detest each other.