Socialists gaffe over DSK birthday party invite shakes Hollande campaign
The presidential campaign of Socialist candidate François Hollande was shaken over the weekend once again by the party’s links to disgraced former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
On Saturday, Hollande’s campaign director Pierre Moscovici and communication director Manuel Valls were both invited to celebrate the birthday of Socialist lawmaker Julien Dray at a popular disco bar on Paris’ notorious Rue St Denis. What Dray had failed to mention was that DSK, as he is known in France, was also a guest at the party.
Hollande’s former partner and defeated presidential candidate in 2007, Segolene Royal, was reported to be furious when she learned of DSK’s presence and stormed-off without meeting him.
“It’s lucky that I didn’t find myself face-to-face with him,” she said. “I left because it is out of the question for me to meet with Dominique Strauss-Kahn if only out of concern for the rights and respect due to women.”
According to newspaper reports, Valls went over the DSK’s table to greet the one-time presidential hopeful and his wife, journalist Anne Sinclair, while Moscovici seemed unaware of Strauss-Kahn’s presence in the bar.
Dray was unrepentant at the furore over the incident claiming it was a private event and he had not noticed that his birthday and the second-round of the presidential election came in the same week.
The incident forced Hollande to go on the offensive and stress DSK’s pariah status. “He no
longer has a role in political life and thus should not be part of a campaign nor in any images that could potentially lead people to believe he is coming back,” he said in a television interview.
Privately, Hollande is reported to have been angry over the “irresponsible” behaviour of the party’s organiser.
With just six days to go before the presidential election on 6 May, the incident is being seen as a huge gaffe on the part of the socialist party and has given team Sarkozy the chance to criticise the rival Socialists.
Sarkozy spokeswoman Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet joked about the Rue St Denis
address, a street which has historically been associated with prostitution, saying "you couldn't make it up."
Strauss-Kahn became a toxic figure last year when he was accused of sexual assault in New York and is now under investigation in France over alleged ties to a vice ring.