Arrest wrecks Strauss-Kahn French presidency hopes

Arrest wrecks Strauss-Kahn French presidency hopes

Strauss-Kahn had polled as the brightest hope for France's opposition Socialist party, which reacted with shock today. Its leader Martine Aubry called the news a "thunderbolt."

Polls had placed Strauss-Kahn as French voters' favourite potential candidate for the election, ahead of fellow Socialists and Sarkozy, whose approval ratings have plunged during his time in power.

Strauss-Kahn was widely expected to announce a bid and sniping by political rivals was in full swing, with opponents sneering at his jetset lifestyle, on top of long-standing claims about his dalliances with women.

But no verbal mudslinging could do as much harm as his shock arrest yesterday, on charges of trying to rape a maid in a New York hotel room.

"The news coming tonight from New York sounds like a thunderbolt. I myself, like everyone, am totally astounded," Aubry said in Lille, where she is mayor.
"I ask the Socialists to remain united and responsible."

She would not yet comment on how the presidential race might reshape itself if Strauss-Kahn is taken out of the running and how the Socialists might regroup ahead of their primary to choose a candidate in October.

"It is staggering news, about which everything remains to be verified," the Socialists' 2007 presidential candidate, Segolene Royal, who is also running in 2012, told Europe 1 radio.

"Let us wait for justice to do its work and not turn this into a political soap opera," she added. "The time has not yet come to comment on the consequences of this affair for domestic politics."

Pundits and politicians on left and right declared his hopes dead, however.
A key rival electoral challenger, far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who polls show could win the first round of the vote, seized on the news.