The French elite’s dithering over DSK

will have ugly consequences

Tim King  —  18th May 2011

A darling of the press: Dominique Strauss Kahn on a visit to Rezé. Picture: Bixintx

While we await Friday’s developments in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, the non-French press, following John Lichfield’s excellent piece in yesterday’s Independent, has moved on to discuss the French taboo of writing about private life; of the force of French privacy laws. But, in fact, the privacy laws are merely an excuse: it goes far deeper. French journalists do not write about politicians’ extra-marital sex lives because they are mates, because they know the future of each lies in the hands of the other.

France, as is widely known, is run by a small elite, educated in two or at most three very small, misnamed grandes écoles, taught by the same teachers and, in their pursuit of high marks, regurgitating the same ideas to please the same examiners. They graduate into France’s top jobs: administration, politics and the media. They remain close to each other. Some marry others from the same school. In later life, if they continue to please their examiners, they become senior politicians, top journalists, media editors. DSK is by no means the only senior politician married to a senior journalist. The editorsand most of the ownersof the French press know DSK well; all had been making flirtatious eyes at him, assuming he was going to be the Socialist candidate and probably, within 12 months, the president. It is taking them a shamefully long time to find reverse gear. Most have not yet found it, and when they do many will not dare use it.

Many in this cosy elite, both press and politicians, have for the past 72 hours been showing remarkable solidarity with a man who has been accused of attempted rape. As a consequence, a full 57 per cent of French voters believe that the incident is a set-up, according a poll released this morning by the Conseil Sondage Analyses.

Where will such thinking ultimately direct France? Into the arms of one of the only major figures who has spoken out for the victim, who has said what everyone suspected about DSK’s sexual proclivities but dared not say: Marine Le Pen.

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