Segolene Royal to back former partner in bid to beat Nicolas Sarkozy

Segolene Royal her headquarters in Paris Oct. 9, 2011 2011 in Paris, France.

Former French presidential candidate Segolene Royal is backing her former partner, Francois Hollande in the second round of the Socialist presidential primary.

The pair, who were together 29 years and have four children together, split acrimoniously in 2007 after Royal's failed bid as Socialist party candidate to defeat Nicolas Sarkozy. They had never married, reportedly considering it "too bourgeois."

Royal was forced to abandon her bid for the candidacy to take on Sarkozy in the 2012 presidential election when she took only 6.9 percent of the vote — or fourth place behind Hollande, Martine Aubry and Arnaud Montebourg— in the first round of the primary election Sunday.

(GlobalPost reports: French Socialists fail to pick presidential challenger to Nicolas Sarkozy (VIDEO)

Her decision to back Hollande took French political commentators by surprise, the Telegraph reports.

Royal, 58, was expected to refuse to endorse either Hollande, 57, or Aubry, 60, the Socialist party leader, with whom she also has a personal grievance.

Royal is also known to dislike and distrust Aubry, who narrowly defeated her for the leadership of the Parti Socialiste in 2008. At the time there were accusations of cheating on both sides and Aubry has made no secret of her contempt for Royal. 

Royal, however, said Wednesday that she was giving her “total support to Francois Hollande” in a bid to strengthen the Socialists’ chances of beating Sarkozy’s governing center-right UMP party next April, the Associated Press reports.

“I decided to assume my responsibilities and to help the left to victory as effectively as possible,” Royal said in a statement. “We don’t have the right to miss out on our rendezvous with the French people, who are waiting for us."