Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund and once the French Socialists' best hope for a presidential victory in 2012, has become a party liability following his arrest in New York on sexual assault charges.
Leaders of France’s main opposition Socialist Party are due to gather in an emergency meeting on Tuesday following the arrest of International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the party’s most high-profile international figure, on criminal sex charges in New York. According to recent opinion polls, Strauss-Kahn was a frontrunner to win next year’s presidential race, polling well ahead of incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy. But many are now wondering if his arrest – and a potentially lengthy legal battle – have not completely shattered the Socialist Party’s hopes of winning the 2012 contest.
A look at Dominique Strauss-Kahn's career at the IMF
Abruptly yanked off the pedestal of international finance and thrown into a Harlem neighbourhood jail, Strauss-Kahn’s face dominated the front pages of French and international newspapers on Monday. Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry said she was “thunderstruck” by the news. “Disbelief, utter disbelief, has been everyone’s first reaction,” said Michel Wieviorka, a sociologist and expert on France’s political left.
Christopher Dickey, the Paris bureau chief of the US weekly magazine Newsweek, told FRANCE 24 that the events were an “unmitigated disaster” for Strauss-Kahn’s IMF career as well as for his political ambitions at home.
Strauss-Kahn: a portrait
Jean-Marc Ayrault, the highest-ranking Socialist MP, went into crisis management mode on Sunday. Appearing on LCI television, he reminded viewers that Strauss-Kahn was innocent until proven guilty – while also stressing that the alleged sexual aggression “was not a Socialist Party affair”.
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But not everyone is ready to count out the Socialists. “Many things can happen between now and October,” Wieviorka said, in reference to the party primaries, scheduled for autumn. In a break with tradition, the Socialists have organised an internal primary to choose their 2012 candidate. Strauss-Kahn was expected to add his name to the handful of candidates who have already expressed their wish to head the party’s ticket.
Date created : 2011-05-16