Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the International Monetary Fund and potential presidential candidate (with a 90% chance of success) in France, was arrested in New York on charges of sexual assault. Even by the measure of other scandals, this one stands out. It has dealt a serious blow to the reputation of the IMF as well as to France and its political future. DKS, who had been planning to announce his decision to seek the presidency in June, was hauled off a flight to Paris minutes before takeoff, arrested and handcuffed. He stands accused of attempting to rape a maid at a New York hotel.
There is something unbelievable in all of this. There is a hint of intrigue, like something out of a Hollywood movie. Why would a man with a salary of a quarter million dollars a year want to go after a maid? This must have been one irresistible maid.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, is innocent until proven guilty, but in the midst of the scandal everyone has forgotten about the role of the victim, as if her part is over and done with. Her role is considered so insignificant that it is not even worth speaking about. The scandal has put political careers and presidential ambitions in jeopardy. Greece is worried that the scandal may interfere with negotiations on new loans. In fact, this has the entire EU worried. Who has time to think about some maid?
In politics, it’s guilty until proven innocent
This is far from the first time that Strauss-Kahn has been accused of sexual misconduct. But in France politicians are not taken to task for indiscretions in their sex lives. Not a single French president would have the right to cast a stone at a philandering colleague. However, adultery and rape are not in the same category. Even if the rape allegation is false, Strauss-Kahn’s bright prospects for the 2012 presidential election may have already become virtual reality, because in politics, for better or worse, you are presumed guilty until proven innocent.
The Socialist Party, a major opposition force in France, cannot nominate a man with such a tarnished reputation, even if it turns out that he was innocent all along. What sane party would nominate a candidate who the rival campaigns will show handcuffed in their ads. And the rumors swirling around Strauss-Kahn and his checkered past are definitely creating serious doubts in voters’ minds. Apart from his allegedly voracious sexual appetite, Strauss-Kahn has the reputation of what they call a “champagne socialist” in Britain. Yes, he stands for equality, social democracy and the welfare state, but he is also a bon vivant with a penchant for luxury, expensive cars, fine suits, watches, wine and so on.
This would not have kept Strauss-Kahn out of the Elysee Palace, especially given the dismal poll numbers of President Nicolas Sarkozy. It was clear that the road to the presidency was not covered with roses for Strauss-Kahn, but his success seemed all but guaranteed. Now he is done for. Nobody can climb to the top with this much baggage.
The scandal may have improved Sarkozy’s chances of winning reelection in 2012. The Socialist party always does fine until a period of infighting begins. Strauss-Kahn was considered the clear favorite for the nomination. The party was planning to endorse his nomination in the fall and complete the election list in July.
Now the scandal has changed everything. Current Socialist leader Martine Aubry said that DSK’s arrest came like a bolt from the blue (to put it mildly). Now former Socialist leader Francois Hollande will be the main candidate, while Aubry is also planning to run. Former leader Segolene Royal, who lost to Sarkozy in the 2007 elections, is not ruling out a run either.
Many experts see in this a potential repeat of the big disaster in the 2002 elections, when there were too many left wing candidates, resulting in the far right National Front and its then leader Jean-Marie Le Pen taking second place. Now his daughter Marine Le Pen leads the party. Analysts predict that she will place second or third in the first round of voting. In any event, Sarkozy’s chances have improved dramatically now that Strauss-Kahn is out of the picture.
If everything happened as the maid describes, maybe France is lucky to have been spared such a president. Well, at least one person lucked out. And was it a pure coincidence that Sarkozy was the only one who got lucky in that New York hotel? Or is there more to this story?
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.