Strauss-Kahn Inches Back Onto France’s Political SceneGregory Viscusi
Two polls and four twitter messages are raising the speculation of a political comeback by Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
The former head of the International Monetary Fund, whose putative French presidential bid ended in a Manhattan hotel room, has scored well in polls that asked the French who they want in the 2017 presidential elections. DSK, as he is known in France, has also seen his Twitter account amassing more than 50,000 followers in 10 days.
So far, the 66-year-old hasn’t indicated if he’ll seek a return to politics. His friends say he won’t. But with polls showing that most French don’t want a rematch of 2012’s election between Socialist President Francois Hollande and former President Nicolas Sarkozy, political commentators have pounced on the possibility of alternative candidates.
A July 2 ViaVoice poll for newspaper Liberation said 37 percent of the French want DSK to run for president. Among potential Socialist candidates, only Prime Minister Manuel Valls did better, at 47 percent. Hollande was at 23 percent. An Elabe poll for television channel BFM on June 25 showed 38 percent of French want DSK to return to politics.
“At last three quarters of politicians are well below his rating, even after four years of scandals,” Elabe chairman Bernard Sananes said on BFM. “There is an element of nostalgia among some voters, especially with a current government that hasn’t convinced on the economic front.”
Finance Minister Michel Sapin, who is close to Hollande, dismissed the importance of these polls.
“One puts people in those polls who are no longer in politics,” Sapin said on i-Tele. “You could put footballers. For there to be a comeback, the person has to want to and here, that isn’t the case.”
‘Jack is Back’
DSK opened his Twitter account June 21 with a cryptic handwritten message saying “Hello Twitter! Jack is Back.” On June 27 he followed up with a three-page analysis of the Greek debt crisis.
DSK has amassed 54,400 followers on Twitter but follows only five accounts: the Financial Times, The Economist, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz, and his latest companion, public relations executive Myriam L’Aouffir. She follows 1,339 contributors and has 13,100 followers.
DSK was leading in all polls for France’s 2012 presidential election when in May 2011 he was detained in New York City after a hotel chambermaid accused him of sexual assault. Prosecutors dropped a criminal case after inconsistencies in her testimony and DSK reached an undisclosed civil settlement with the woman.
Last month, he was acquitted in an unrelated pimping trial in the northern French city of Lille.
DSK’s legal problems aren’t over. Luxembourg authorities are reviewing complaints from November’s collapse of Leyne Strauss-Kahn & Partners, a hedge fund he co-founded with a partner who committed suicide last year.