On Saturday, Hollande’s campaign director Pierre Moscovici and communication director Manuel Valls were both invited to celebrate the birthday of Socialist lawmaker Julien Dray at a popular disco bar on Paris’ notorious Rue St Denis. What Dray had failed to mention was that DSK, as he is known in France, was also a guest at the party.
Hollande’s former partner and defeated presidential candidate in 2007, Segolene Royal, was reported to be furious when she learned of DSK’s presence and stormed-off without meeting him.
“It’s lucky that I didn’t find myself face-to-face with him,” she said. “I left because it is out of the question for me to meet with Dominique Strauss-Kahn if only out of concern for the rights and respect due to women.”
According to newspaper reports, Valls went over the DSK’s table to greet the one-time presidential hopeful and his wife, journalist Anne Sinclair, while Moscovici seemed unaware of Strauss-Kahn’s presence in the bar.
Dray was unrepentant at the furore over the incident claiming it was a private event and he had not noticed that his birthday and the second-round of the presidential election came in the same week.
The incident forced Hollande to go on the offensive and stress DSK’s pariah status. “He no
longer has a role in political life and thus should not be part of a campaign nor in any images that could potentially lead people to believe he is coming back,” he said in a television interview.
Privately, Hollande is reported to have been angry over the “irresponsible” behaviour of the party’s organiser.
With just six days to go before the presidential election on 6 May, the incident is being seen as a huge gaffe on the part of the socialist party and has given team Sarkozy the chance to criticise the rival Socialists.
Sarkozy spokeswoman Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet joked about the Rue St Denis
address, a street which has historically been associated with prostitution, saying "you couldn't make it up."
Strauss-Kahn became a toxic figure last year when he was accused of sexual assault in New York and is now under investigation in France over alleged ties to a vice ring.