IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn stuns European media

The sexual assault charges against IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in New York have sent shockwaves across Europe.

Nicknamed "DSK", he was widely expected to challenge Nicolas Sarkozy for the French presidency next year, as a powerful Socialist candidate. He has also been a key player in the eurozone bail-outs of debt-laden Greece, the Irish Republic and Portugal.

What do Europe's media make of the Strauss-Kahn case?

Liberation, France (left-wing newspaper - editorial comment)

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn leaves a New York police station (15 May 2011) The "DSK" affair is having a big impact in France and elsewhere in Europe

In a few instants DSK risks having lost everything: the IMF, his reputation, the presidential election, his family honour. A charge of "sexual aggression" does not mean a conviction... and it cannot be ruled out immediately that he was the target of manipulation. But the feeling of an enormous mess has already spread everywhere.

It has all come crashing down. The left has lost its favourite just a few weeks from the Socialist primary and Strauss-Kahn dropping out of the race has exploded the whole campaign.

For 2012 DSK seemed the best equipped to respond to the distress of the French people, exhausted by the crisis and upset by the crazy reign of [President Nicolas] Sarkozy.

Le Figaro, France (centre-right newspaper)

Even if he emerges clean from this affair a number of the IMF stakeholder countries may judge that he is no longer fit for purpose...

There is no-one today in the IMF with the political stature of Strauss-Kahn capable of going head-to-head with [Chancellor] Angela Merkel, in German, to tell her that Germany must do more to save the eurozone and the indebted countries on its periphery...

Whether DSK resigns or is made to understand that current circumstances make that necessary, international negotiations ought to begin to replace him. The emerging nations think now, for the first time, that one of their people should get the job - a job until now reserved for a European.

Les Echos, France (centrist newspaper, commentary by Cecile Cornudet)

In shock, the French political class remained very cautious yesterday, even if nobody seems to believe that DSK could be a candidate in the PS [Socialist Party] primary before 13 July. By dropping out the pollsters' favourite has reshuffled the cards. But it's hard to see who benefits from this...

In the unprecedented climate of French distrust for politicians, such an incredible affair is disastrous for all the parties of government - that's the view of the PS and [ruling] UMP...

Save for a dramatic turnaround in the coming hours, the DSK affair profoundly changes the political state of play a year away from the presidential election.

Radio Monte Carlo website

According to our information, DSK's lawyers have reconstructed his day. He apparently left the hotel at around midday, that is, an hour before the alleged time of his assault on the chambermaid. He had by that time apparently already requested his bill and returned his keys to reception.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn apparently then joined his daughter for lunch at a New York restaurant. His defence is apparently about to submit material evidence and witnesses' testimony of this lunch. He apparently then took a taxi to the airport.

Financial Times, UK

The Strauss-Kahn affair throws next year's presidential race wide open. As an exponent of intelligently managed capitalism, free markets and economic reform, Mr Strauss-Kahn has no equal in France's opposition Socialist Party. But now it is almost inconceivable that he will throw his hat into the ring.

As for Nicolas Sarkozy, the centre-right president, his re-election remains anything but certain. Recent surveys indicate that the far right's Marine Le Pen may beat Mr Sarkozy in the election's first round next April and eliminate him from the two-candidate run-off. If one effect of the Strauss-Kahn affair is to enhance Ms Le Pen's prospects at the expense of mainstream candidates, it will be a black day for democracy in France.

The Telegraph, UK (centre-right newspaper, commentary by Anne-Elisabeth Moutet in Paris)

DSK, as he is known here, will go down in history as the first French politician whose career imploded because of a sex scandal, not a financial one. When the news broke in Paris... reactions here were split between sheer disbelief, suspicions of entrapment and all-too-many knowing shrugs...

Until today, complicated sexual lives, multiple divorces and serial adultery never hampered political careers. Francois Mitterrand famously ran three parallel families while president.

Tageszeitung, Germany (liberal newspaper run by co-operative)

A sex scandal involving the Socialists' favourite is above all easy meat for Marine Le Pen of the populist right-wing National Front. For her campaign against a "corrupt Establishment" the "caviar socialist" Strauss-Kahn is a trophy on her hit list. His exclusion from the election race opens the way for her to fight a duel with Sarkozy.

Handelsblatt, Germany (financial newspaper)

The sudden vacancy at the top may yet speed up a development that has been noticeable already for several years: the up-and-coming economic powers, spearheaded by China, are getting more and more influence in the IMF... It took a lot of effort for the EU to put Strauss-Kahn in the top seat at the IMF, faced with resistance from the developing countries. Now one cannot expect that the Europeans will be able to carve his successors in their own image.

El Pais, Spain (centre-left newspaper, blog column by Lluis Bassets)

There is no version that excuses Strauss-Kahn on the central political question, the impression of irresponsibility and of an old-fashioned character made obsolete by today's society of communication and transparency, where there are no private backyards for whoever holds public office...

The result of this crucial flaw in a man's character, just one flaw, is a far-reaching disaster. It's a setback for the IMF at an extremely important moment in its history, as it faces rescue plans for the European sovereign debts and the possibility of a restructuring of Greek debt... It's also a setback for France, which has always sought to have a broad international presence.

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