The DSK arrest could be bad news for French Muslims

By Joshua Keating

Writing at Slate, Anne Applebaum counters the conventional wisdom that the Strauss-Kahn arrest is great news for France’s struggling president, Nicolas Sarkozy:

But here is a prediction: Sarkozy will not benefit from Strauss-Kahn’s ugly demise. The main beneficiary will be the politician with the fastest-growing constituency in France at the moment: Marine Le Pen, daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen and now the leader of the uber-nationalist, anti-European Union, anti-immigration National Front. Much more presentable than her father, Le Pen started polling higher than Sarkozy in March, not least because she offers populist economics and promises to prevent the number of North African immigrants from swelling. And she has good reason to believe in her chances: Once before, in 2002, Marine’s father unexpectedly wound up in a presidential runoff against the then-president, Jacques Chirac. Chirac won in a landslide, but the French establishment got a good scare.

Maybe they weren’t scared enough: France seems consumed by the same kinds of scandals, the same grumpiness about foreigners, and the same sense that the political class is out of touch as it did 10 years ago. French politicians continue to live in a world remote from that of the "ordinary" people they are meant to represent. Strauss-Kahn’s arrest certainly won’t make any of the mainstream parties more popular than they were last week. How many will want a radical alternative?

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