Saturday 23 September 2017

DSK's possible return sends election plans awry

Henry Samuel in Paris

DOMINIQUE Strauss-Kahn could make a dramatic return to French politics within weeks, even potentially running to be the country's president next year, it was claimed last night.

With the case against the former IMF chief on the verge of collapse, members of his opposition Socialist party were open to extending the deadline for candidacies for primaries to allow his return.

Before his arrest on May 14 for sexually assaulting and sequestering a New York hotel chambermaid, Mr Strauss-Kahn was tipped as the man most likely to be France's next president, and predicted to trounce Nicolas Sarkozy.

His political ambitions were written off, but then France woke up to the news that the case against him might implode. "It's a thunderbolt, but this time the other way round," said Lionel Jospin, the former Socialist prime minister. "If the charges against him collapse, that will mean he was thrown to the wolves."

Others went further, claiming nothing prevented him from seeking to run for elections next spring if cleared, or from reclaiming his former post as IMF chief.

However, the prospects of any instant political rebirth were hampered last night by the prosecution's decision to push on with the investigation, despite doubts over the maid's credibility. Even if cleared, Mr Strauss-Kahn still faces charges in France of sexual harassment of Tristane Banon, a French journalist who claims he attacked her "like a rutting chimpanzee".

Yet given what the French media called a sensational "coup de theatre", there were calls for the timetable for Socialist primaries, planned for October, to be suspended. In theory, the deadline for handing in candidacies is July 13.

Francois Hollande, the current favourite to clinch the Socialist primaries, said last he was "open" to extending the deadline until late July or August. Mr Strauss-Kahn is next due in court on July 18.

Mr Strauss-Kahn's possible acquittal could pose a political conundrum for the Socialist Party leader, Martine Aubry. She had pledged not to run if her more popular colleague did so, but with him out of the race, she declared her candidacy on Tuesday. (©Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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