European politics seem like one prolonged hallucination these days, so here’s another: imagine Dominique Strauss-Kahn, despite all his peccadilloes, had been elected president of France. The Daily Beast supplies a victory party guest list.
Around Europe the past few weeks, voters angry with economic policy have been wiping clean the established order and establishing electoral wish lists that have market watchers the world over nibbling at their thumbnails. But Dominique Strauss-Kahn—pauvre bête!—didn’t even get his chance (as a head of state, that is) to fiddle with the euro or chastise the recalcitrant Greeks. It was assumed for so long that the former head of the International Monetary Fund would have his shot at a term or two in the Palais de l'Élysée.
In Strauss-Kahn’s case, a politician with a reputation finally got caught in a situation too egregious to ignore, and it cost him his once-bright political future—providing us a measure of just what it takes to become unelectable in France.
But for a moment imagine that DSK’s lifestyle went on much as it had, but that the broader public never became aware of it. Imagine that, after a golden stretch at the International Monetary Fund, he ran for election and rode the adulation of the French public to a glorious victory. Who would attend his victory party? Heads of state, without doubt, while in the background perhaps would lurk some of the seedier characters who’ve appeared as allegations against the French politician have piled up. Outside would be les misérables, anti-austerity protesters joined by a distraught François Hollande crying on the steady shoulder of the just-ousted Nicolas Sarkozy.