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 "Le Parisien" headlining on IMF head arrest, in Paris, Tuesday, May 17, 2011
    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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells California Republican Convention delegates the campaign will be 'a battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of the June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora