Arrest Throws France Into Disarray and Disbelief
For months, France has been buzzing with speculation that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the popular chief of the International Monetary Fund, would quit his job in Washington to take on President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s presidential elections. On Sunday, French politicians and media met news of his arrest in New York for alleged sexual aggression with stunned disbelief and expressions of national humiliation. The incident threw Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s political party, the Socialists, into confusion and set the stage for a new political calculus that could allow the National Front, the far-right party led by its founder’s daughter, Marine Le Pen, to become a more dominant force during the election campaign.
Even as pollsters cautioned against rushing to judgment and as Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said his client “will plead not guilty,” his would-be rivals were quick to declare his political death.