James Forsyth

Is Strauss-Kahn back in the race for the Élysée?

Is Strauss-Kahn back in the race for the Élysée?
Text settings

The news that the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is in danger of collapsing is almost as surprising as the initial news of his arrest on suspicion of raping a chamber maid. There had been a general assumption in New York, Washington and Paris that the case against the former IMF president was clear-cut and that his political ambitions were over.

It is unclear how quickly the case will now be resolved. But there is sure to be pressure in France to delay the nominating deadline for the Socialist Primary beyond the 13th of July to allow Strauss-Kahn to run if he is cleared.

The question is whether the various revelations about Strauss-Kahn and his relations with women which followed his arrest have damaged him politically beyond repair. Or, whether the French will see him as a victim of an overly-aggressive American criminal justice system and welcome him back with open arms.

What makes this all so fascinating is that Strauss-Kahn would be the strongest candidate against the eminently beatable Sarkozy. But the wild-card in all this is Marine Le Pen. The daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen is proving highly, and worryingly, effective in expanding the reach of the Front National and polls show that she would beat Sarkozy if the election was held tomorrow.  There’s little chance that Le Pen could win the presidency, but there’s a distinct chance that she could top the poll in the first round as the backlash against globalisation gains speed in Europe.