Questions for Strauss-Kahn raise more for world

By Rob Cox
May 15, 2011

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

By Rob Cox

The New York Police Department’s questions for Dominique Strauss-Kahn pose potentially much bigger political and financial ones for the world. Law enforcement officials removed the IMF chief from a flight to Paris on Saturday and took him into custody in connection with an alleged sexual assault of a hotel maid. The sordid affair could derail Strauss-Kahn’s possible bid to lead France and alter the course of the IMF at a critical juncture in the global sovereign debt crisis.

Strauss-Kahn was widely seen as the best potential challenger to Nicolas Sarkozy as the 24th president of the French Republic next year. The incumbent’s unpopularity, combined with Strauss-Kahn’s tenure during the global financial crisis, appeared to give the Socialist Party stalwart a strong shot in the election next year. That is unlikely to be the case if charges are filed over the incident at the Sofitel hotel in Times Square. A police official has told reporters that while the maid was cleaning the room, Strauss-Kahn came out of a bathroomnaked and tried to sexually assault her. She was treated for minor injuries, police said, adding that Strauss-Kahn’s cellphone was found in the room where the alleged incident took place.

Even before Saturday’s arrest, Strauss-Kahn would have needed to step down from his IMF post had he decided to throw his hat into the ring for the French presidency. But in such a scenario, the fund’s normal process for nominating a successor — that is, with liberal French and European political influence — would have been intact. If Strauss-Kahn’s exit occurs because of the situation in New York, it’s not clear how a replacement would be found.

That could have serious ramifications on global affairs. Indeed, some have argued the IMF has acted too softly in its response to the debt crises afflicting Europe, reflecting a more politically sensitive leadership under Strauss-Kahn given his designs for the Elysee Palace. By extension, an abruptchange in leadership at the IMF could push the agency towards a more confrontational, if traditional, stance with countries like Greece.

Until more is known about the arrest, of course, these are all hypothetical outcomes to hypothetical questions. But it’s fair to say the financial markets will have as much interest in the outcome as New York’s tabloids do.


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Posted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest could affect global politics | ShortFormBlog | Report as abusive

What’s the betting that Strauss-Kahn got “Assanged”?

Who would want to remove a potentially global socialist figure from likely prominence in an up-coming election?

Does the “maid” have any history as a CIA asset?

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine
Liberty & democracy over violent empire —

Posted by amacd | Report as abusive

This could also have been an extended misunderstanding, a’ la sitcom.

Guy comes out of shower unaware maid is cleaning room, she screams, he tries to stop her screaming, things get out of hand, etc…

Someone really sane has to look at this story.

Posted by retrosteve | Report as abusive

Let me get this straight. The person who stood a good chance at being the next President of France throws it all away for a hotel maid? Even if he is cleared his reputation is ruined as are his career options.

What is it about people in very high places that they think they can do anything and get away with it?

Seems to me they need someone to ride in their chariot and remind them that they are only human and not a god.

Posted by stanrich | Report as abusive

We still do not know the whole story. If true, it just goes to show how imperial these people are, if not, then it’s good old politics. But either way, squandering $3000 for a room while asking poor countries for more austerity, sounds rather hypocritical.

Posted by ofilha | Report as abusive

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Posted by Pourquoi DSK dérangeait au FMI ? | TERRE PROMISE | Report as abusive

The rush to explain away the actions of this alleged rapist as a conspiracy is sickening and reveals the lack of objectivity among knee-jerk anti-American Europeans, not to mention their utter callousness toward women.

It is possible to be liberal and in favor of Wikileaks without needing to blind oneself to the shmuckery (that’s right I just invented a word) of Assange/DSK et al.

Posted by BajaArizona | Report as abusive