Strauss-Kahn: France's socialist reformer

31st August 2007, Comments 0 comments

Former French finance minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn has built his reputation as a business-friendly socialist and vows to reform the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if he becomes its chief.

31 August 2007

Paris - The 58-year-old former economics professor, who failed in his bid to be the Socialist Party candidate in this year's French presidential election, is already a leading advocate of modernising his party by taking it to the centre.

A gifted orator, fluent in English and German, Strauss-Kahn won respect in European circles as a competent finance minister from 1997 to 1999.

During that time, he took part in negotiations on the creation of the single European currency, the euro, and generated a wave of privatisations, including that of France Telecom, overcoming resistance within socialist ranks.

The silver-haired politician, known sometimes by his initials "DSK", is the European Union's candidate to succeed IMF managing director Rodrigo Rato, who is stepping down in October.

He now presents himself as the reform candidate for the 185-country institution, based in Washington.

"Many reforms must imperatively be put in place," he said in a statement this week, adding that in an increasingly globalised world, the IMF must be able to fulfill its mission of promoting financial stability.

Strauss-Kahn is competing for the post against former Czech prime minister and central bank chief Josef Tosovsky, who was nominated by Russia.

The Frenchman's candidacy has stirred some controversy in Europe.

The Financial Times newspaper said this week that only those who wanted the Fund "to be irrelevant" could applaud the EU's decision to "foist" Strauss-Kahn on the institution.
"This is the wrong candidate, chosen in the wrong way," the influential British business daily said in a blistering editorial.

"Emerging countries no longer understand why Europeans should determine who might dictate to them in any crisis, as if their old empires still existed."

European countries traditionally select the head of the IMF and the United States the president of the World Bank, but that agreement has come under increased criticism.
Born to a Jewish family in the affluent Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine on April 25, 1949, Strauss-Kahn spent part of his childhood in Morocco and later studied at the elite Paris Institute of Political Studies (SciencesPo) and the Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC) schools.

He entered politics in 1986, winning a parliament seat to represent the alpine Haute-Savoie region and was later re-elected in the Paris region of Val d'Oise in 1988.

Named finance minister in 1997, Strauss-Kahn was forced to step down two years later because of allegations that he had received payment from a student health insurance fund for legal work he did not perform.

He was cleared of any wrongdoing in 2001.

In June, Strauss-Kahn was again elected to parliament to represent Sarcelles, a poor suburb north of Paris.

During the presidential campaign, Strauss-Kahn attacked the successful conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, saying he presented a "danger" for France.

But the new president pushed Strauss-Kahn as "the most capable candidate" for the IMF post and won EU backing.

Strauss-Kahn is married to Anne Sinclair, one of France's most popular television journalists.

AFP

Subject: French news

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