Strauss-Kahn arrest is 'thunderbolt': Socialist leader
Martine Aubry, leader of the French Socialists of whom Dominique Strauss-Kahn was the top presidential hopeful, said Sunday his arrest on sex charges was a "thunderbolt" which left her "astounded."
Aubry was speaking to reporters Sunday morning, hours after the arrest in New York of Strauss-Kahn, who polls had shown was the man most likely to beat President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's presidential election.
"The news coming tonight from New York sounds like a thunderbolt. I myself, like everyone, am totally astounded," Aubry said in Lille, where she is mayor.
Pundits and political figures on both the right and the left said Strauss-Kahn's hopes for the presidency were destroyed by the arrest, which could damage the entire party's prospects.
Aubry, who was previously expected to refrain from running to leave the way clear for Strass-Kahn, urged her followers to remain "united and responsible" in the wake of the scandal.
Another high-profile Socialist, 2007 presidential candidate Segolene Royal, said the arrest was "staggering" but stressed that he was innocent until proven guilty.
"It is staggering news, about which everything remains to be verified," Royal told Europe 1 radio. "Let us wait for justice to do its work and not turn this into a political soap opera."
© 2011 AFP