Strauss-Kahn arrest upends French politics ahead of presidential race
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, arrested in New York on sexual-assault charges, was considered a strong contender to become France's next president. Now his candidacy for the Socialist party is in serious doubt.
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“It's an accusatory system in the United States, so what I would say is that we should be very careful on the presumption of innocence and hope that nothing damning comes out of this,” Mr. Lellouche said.Skip to next paragraph
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The far-right National Front was less tactful. “This case marks the end of his campaign and will most likely prompt the IMF to ask him to leave his post,” said party leader Marine Le Pen, herself a 2012 presidential candidate.
Famous French tolerance?
French voters are famously tolerant when it comes to politicians’ private lives. Late President François Mitterand had a whole second family, and Strauss-Kahn, married three times like Sarkozy, escaped unhurt after he apologized for an affair with a Hungarian IMF colleague in 2008 and called it an “error of judgment.”
His jet-set lifestyle may have irked the party left: just recently, pictures of him getting into his PR manager’s Porsche gave new strength to his reputation as being part of “la gauche caviar,” or "the caviar left" whose lifestyle is not that of the masses.
But he is widely respected for his work: As finance minister in the 1990s, he even convinced the communists of the necessity to privatize large parts of France’s state-owned assets and helped qualify the country for the euro currency, and as director of the IMF he turned into the firefighter of the world economy.
All this may be of little use now. DSK’s political career is in ruins, even if he is found innocent – and his lawyers already said he would plead not guilty.
Claude Askolovitch, political commentator and author of a forthcoming book about Strauss-Kahn, is skeptical about his chances of survival.
“It takes a miracle,” Mr. Askolovitch told the Monitor. “If there is no indictment, if they prove he was framed and they let him go within a couple of weeks, he will be elected president of France next year. But nobody really believes this will happen. If a shadow of doubt remains, he is done.”