French Elections 2012: Dominique Strauss-Kahn Accuses Sarkozy of Engineering Prostitution Scandal to Win Re-election

On Saturday, Dominique Strauss-Kahn had a rare, and controversial unscripted moment in an interview for the Guardian, in when he blamed French President Nicolas Sarkozy for engineering his fall from grace. DSK points his finger squarely at Sarkozy, when he claims the criminal investigation into the Sofitel prostitution saga was "shaped by those with a political agenda" and that "more was involved here than mere coincidence."

It’s not often that a high-ranking French politician loses his temper in this manner; after all, French politics is all about control and image. Ironically, the last person to go unscripted was Sarkozy himself. On an official visit in 2008 to the French Agricultural Salon, the President was heckled. As Sarkozy tried to shake hands with the man in question, he was told: “Leave me alone. Don’t touch me, you dirty me.” Instead of leaving matters and continuing, a visibly smirking Sarkozy went on the offensive: “Well, then f*** off, you sad b*****d.” The clip went viral and caused a PR nightmare.

We will never know what exactly occurred in DSK's hotel room. But, for him to claim that it was all a political conspiracy smacks of – if delicately rephrased – downright political expediency, and a certain amount of ill-concealed ire.

A spokesman for Sarkozy sarcastically rebutted the accusation: “Really, the entourage of Mr. Sarkozy [must be] very good. For twenty years, they have managed to incite him (DSK) to commit debauchery with the degree of success we have seen …” Touché.

Therein lies the rub: DSK is too shady to make accusations of being ‘framed’ by the incumbent President. He is currently being investigated in France for participation in a prostitution ring and has yet to produce a crystal clear account of what occurred in the Sofitel hotel suite. The irony is almost palpable. 

Will his accusation make voters hate Sarkozy more? Will it affect the election? Not in the slightest. Sarkozy has already hit back strong, telling DSK: “Have the decency to be quiet.” Undoubtedly, DSK will have to be. This was his parting shot, his one chance – as that voter did in the Agricultural salon – to shout his disapproval directly at Sarkozy. But he failed to achieve that, and instead got a cold shrug.

DSK once again has made himself the focus of unwanted attention and reminded the world that, in spite of his return to France, there is a fishy smell still lingering about the events in New York last May. 

One wonders whether DSK will regret sounding off so quickly, in the heat of a presidential campaign. But Hell – after all – hath no fury like a prospective presidential candidate scorned.

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Will Birch

Specialising in Maghreb affairs, William has lived and traveled throughout the MENA region.

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