News / Europe

IMF Chief Scandal Throws French Elections A Curveball

Just a week ago, Strauss-Khan headed one of the world's most powerful institutions, appeared likely to run - and win - France's 2012 presidential race

A woman reads the French newspaper
A woman reads the French newspaper "Le Parisien" headlining on IMF head arrest, in Paris, Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The indictment of ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on sexual assault charges has upended French politics just a year before presidential elections.

Just a week ago, Dominique Strauss-Khan headed one of the world's most powerful institutions and appeared likely to run - and win - France's 2012 presidential race. Now Strauss-Kahn has resigned from his job as International Monetary Fund chief and spent several days in prison after allegedly assaulting a hotel maid.

As he prepares for a likely trial in New York, his political career appears over - and France's election landscape has been thrown into turmoil.

Like many analysts, France Television reporter and former Washington correspondent Ulysse Gosset, describes the changes as cataclysmic.

"It's an earthquake for French politics and probably everything has changed in one week since the scandal has emerged in the United States. It's a big shock for French public opinion," he said.

As the Strauss-Kahn controversy rages here, the political fallout appears unclear. So far, the sexual assault allegations dogging him have not hurt the image of his opposition Socialist party. Indeed, an IPSOS survey this week puts another, less charismatic Socialist politician, Francois Hollande, ahead in the polls, scoring 29 percent of possible votes - 10 points ahead of conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"Hollande has started his campaign a few months ago quietly, saying he was a normal man and a good politician. And this image of stability and normality in [this] context is probably going to play in his favor," said  Gosset.

The Strauss-Kahn scandal has also benefited another politician - Marine Le Pen, the 42-year-old leader of the far-right National Front and a rising star in French politics.

Le Pen told French radio Thursday that Strauss-Kahn's indictment definitely puts him out of the presidential race. She has described him as politically discredited.

Along with support, Strauss-Kahn also earned derision among ordinary French, who criticized his wealthy, "caviar-left" lifestyle. Analyst Philippe Moreau Defarges believes the sexual assault charges now facing him only serve to deepen public disillusionment toward the political establishment.

"It's clear Strauss-Kahn... is [perceived] as somebody who is above the law... It's why the great winner - and it's a pity - is Mrs. Le Pen. Because first, she's a populist and second point, she's not a traditional politician - she doesn't belong to the club," he said.

So far,  President Sarkozy has remained uncharacteristically silent about the  scandal. In 2007, he championed Strauss-Kahn's candidacy to head the IMF - in part, observers say, to get a rival out of the way.

Strauss-Kahn's downfall has not improved Sarkozy's ratings. He remains one of France's most unpopular presidents ever.

Still, journalist Gossett says it's too early to write off a second Sarkozy term.

"He's going to fight right to the end and he's very efficient. So even if the polls are low today, it doesn't mean a thing."

Next week, Sarkozy hosts the G8 summit in the French city of Deauville - giving him the opportunity to burnish his international statesman's stature.

And there are a slew of reports that his glamorous wife, Carla Bruni Sarkozy, is pregnant. The presidency has no comment, but recent pictures of Mrs. Sarkozy are revealing.  That may cast the French president in another flattering light - as a happily married, family man.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More