Following The New York Times bombshell last night that the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn "is on the verge of collapse" due to credibility issues with his accuser, a wave of shock, joy and indignation is hitting France. Citizens and Socialist Party leaders are grappling with the possibility that the felony charges against the former IMF chief could be dropped altogether. Though it's too early to say what will happen to Strauss-Kahn in court at Friday's hearing, given his stature as France's most popular politician prior to his arrest, commentators and politicians in his home country have begun pondering his political future and the hastiness with which American society presumed his guilt. Here's the landscape of reactions:
Joy "This news make me immensely happy and I think about his family," said Socialist Party head Martine Aubry on France's TV channel Tele. In the Guardian, Bernard Henri-Levy, the philosopher who defended DSK, expressed relief, "saying he was not a 'Neanderthal', expressed his 'great joy for the man, his family, and for principle.'" Jack Lang, a former Socialist culture minister speaking with The Times, said "You can’t play with the honor and dignity of someone. His life was temporarily broken, his honor put into question... I am a happy man, happy for him and for our country." From The Telegraph, French politiican Michele Sabban requested that primaries by suspended so that DSK can return to politics. "If Dominique Strauss-Kahn is cleared, I ask the Socialist party to suspend the primary process."
Uncertainty In a presser, French Socialist Party member Segolene Royal (pictured above) urged caution saying "it's urgent that the truth is found... Despite the gravity and the emotion, we shouldn't use this moment," emphasizing that it's too soon to start pondering DSK's political comeback. France's Le Nouvel Observateur newspaper underscores the upheaval happening in France's Socialist Party:
Lionel Jospin, a former Socialist prime minister, said it was premature to talk about Dominique Strauss-Kahn returning to France to enter the race to challenge Sarkozy. "It's too soon to transform into politics such dramatic news that keeps changing before our eyes," said Jospin. "He is the first one who'll have to make a decision after this personal shock. Then the Socialists and their representatives will have to decide."
Indignation The Times highlights some of the angier reactions to the way New York authorities have handled the case.
In several conversations there seemed to be little rancor toward the American justice system, beyond a broad sense that it was, as one French legal adviser put it, “muscular.” But Patrice Randé, 50, the manager of an insurance office, said the case risked stoking anti-American feeling with the impression that the New York police had deliberately humiliated a Mr. Strauss-Kahn. “We were made to believe he was guilty, we dropped him, we really bought this,” Mr. Randé said. “I’m shocked that they didn’t take more care,” he said, referring to American prosecutors.
Remorse Bernard Debré, a member of the National Assembly of France, expressed remorse about how he rushed to judgement regarding DSK, according to an article in Liberation.
He acknowledges that he spoke "too quickly". Bernard Debre, who called Dominique Strauss-Kahn a "not particularly commendable guy" is, now making a mea culpa. The UMP explained himself, and continued: "I over-reacted because I thought, knowing a part of the case Banon and a number of things, it was the drop that made the vase overflow [straw that broke the camel's back]."
Pessimism "People are not going to forgive him. At a political level, he is dead," said a French professional speaking with The New York Times. "It would be terrible for France if he came and if we give him some credit again." A French legal adviser adds "His reputation is tarnished forever. I think he can come back to French political life but internationally he is burned."