© The Financial Times Ltd 2015 FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
September 4, 2011 12:07 pm
Dominique Strauss-Kahn flew back into France on Sunday for the first time since the collapse of a sexual assault case against him that cost him his job as head of the International Monetary Fund and his presidential ambitions.
The return of the Socialist politician prompted a wave of speculation about what part he might play in his party’s presidential election campaign, with France just eight months away from the first round of voting.
While senior party colleagues warmly welcomed his acquittal, they have been equivocal about his future campaign role – or any possible future ministerial post – because of the spotlight shone by the case on his reputation as a womaniser. Women’s rights campaigners believe the affair has shifted attitudes among the French, who have tended to ignore their ruling elite’s sexual activities.
Senior Socialists are also worried that media interest in Mr Strauss-Kahn will detract from the party’s presidential primaries, which are in full swing.
Allies of Mr Strauss-Kahn said he would not “interfere” in the primaries but that he still had a crucial role to play as France struggles with the eurozone crisis. Jean-Marie Le Guen, Socialist deputy for Paris, said: “We need his skills.”
Met by a scrum of reporters at Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport at 7am and as he arrived home in Paris’s chic Place de Vosges, Mr Strauss-Kahn and his wife smiled for the cameras but kept silent.
He is expected to put across his side of the story in media interviews in the coming days. The former IMF boss was cleared of the criminal charges of sexual assault against a New York chambermaid that led to his arrest four months ago. But he still faces a civil US case and a French investigation of an attempted rape claim made by a young journalist, which he says is “slanderous” and “imaginary”.
Before his arrest, the former finance minister was seen as the left’s best presidential hope. But the leading Socialist candidates are now wary of embracing their returning colleague.
François Hollande, the leading candidate, has hinted at an electoral role for him but has refrained from talking about any ministerial post. Martine Aubry, the other leading candidate and a Strauss-Kahn ally, distanced herself last week when she said she shared the worries of women about his attitude towards the opposite sex.
An opinion poll published after the dropping of criminal charges in New York showed two-thirds of French voters would not want Mr Strauss-Kahn to take a ministerial role.
Separately, lawyers for Jacques Chirac have said the former French president is not well enough to attend his trial on corruption charges, which begins on Monday, though proceedings should go ahead without him.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.
Sign up for email briefings to stay up to date on topics you are interested in