The man expected to challenge French President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's election has caused outrage on the left and delight on the right after he was spotted getting into a Porsche, an ostensible faux pas for a socialist in France.
Socialist frontrunner Dominique Strauss-Kahn, or DSK as he is known in France, sparked a veritable media frenzy this week after he was snapped getting into an expensive car.
Strauss-Kahn, the current managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has yet to announce his intention to run in party primaries this summer, but has already been pegged as the winning candidate. If he succeeds and goes on to run against Sarkozy, the latest polls show that he would beat the current president hands-down.
France's president is elected by direct voting for a five-year term.
Presidential elections have historically been organised into two rounds. If no candidate wins more than half of all ballots in the first round, voters must pick between the two top candidates in a run-off.
The first round of the next presidential elections in France will be held in April 22, 2012, with a run-off on May 6 if necessary.
No surprise then, that he is a prime target for the right. The ruling party leapt on the “news” of Strauss-Khan getting into a Porsche, gleefully portraying the incident as a show of blatant “bling-bling-ism” by the French left. (Until now, the term bling-bling most often referred to Sarkozy himself, who has a notorious penchant for luxury yachts and expensive watches.)
In an interview with French news channel BFM, the ruling UMP party’s Brice Hortefeux – who will run Sarkozy’s election campaign – described the incident as “a curious development within the Socialist Party”, suggesting the party had ditched its traditional fist-and-rose symbol in favour of "the wheel of a Porsche".
Supporters of rival Socialist candidates also jumped on the bandwagon, chiding Strauss-Kahn for his “gauche caviar” (caviar left) behaviour, the French equivalent of "champagne socialism" and a pejorative expression used to describe leftwing thinkers who have a lot of money.
Not everybody was up in arms however. “People sniping about DSK’s Porsche make me laugh,” one online commentator said. “As head of the IMF this guy earns more than the president; of course he’s rich.” A comment on LeMonde.fr read “I don’t care about his car, I just want to know what he’s going to do about unemployment”.
Nonetheless, this is going to go down as Strauss-Kahn’s first faux pas in the race for the presidency. If this is a sign of things to come, it looks like we’re in for a dirty election campaign.
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