Do you remember Dominique Strauss Kahn? Or DSK like we call him in France? He was a high profile French politician, once the Head of the International Monetary Fund, French Ministry of Finance, and one press release away from becoming a serious candidate to become France’s President in 2012.
He was basically one of the most powerful men in the world, until this day of May 2011 when he was taken on a “perp walk” in New York City, handcuffed, his eyes blitzed away by hundreds of journalists witnessing a fall like we only see in Hollywood movies. That year DSK was accused of attempted rape and sexual assault by a room cleaner in the Sofitel hotel he was occupying, Nafissatou Diallo. The Sofitel trial was reported on international media, and ended with a settlement where DSK gave 1,5 million dollars to Diallo. Although he settled and therefore escaped a final decision of the judge, potentially a conviction, if DSK had been a Norwegian politician this would be a good example of what Norwegian journalists call a political suicide. But in France he was still called a “seductor”.
In Norway a non registered stabbur will get you out of a job. In France aggravated pimping will make you a potential President of the Republic.
It doesn’t stop there. Between 2013 and 2015 he was in another trial, accused this time of aggravated pimping in a prostitution network in North of France and Belgium. Acquitted again. He admitted having orgies but also said he did not know the 40 women laying with him were prostitutes. The prosecutor found that he had benefited from prostitution that others had paid for. So he is not guilty, legally. What about morally? But imagine you read in the newspapers the painful testimony of a woman at the bar explaining the sadism in the man’s eyes when he forced them to perform sexual acts (never named) she were uncomfortable with. Would you vote for this man if he wanted to exist again in the political arena of your country? Even if he begged for forgiveness? (DSK didn’t, in case you were wondering).
If you are Norwegian your answer to this question is certainly “no”. Although this man was never found guilty, there are so many stains on his CV that he lost all the trust of the people he is supposed to represent. In his carrier he was also accused twice of corruption (also acquitted or settled out of court). Plus he doesn’t seem to respect women very much, not a good sign for Norwegians.
But if you are French the spectrum of answers is much wider. Believe it or not, recent polls show DSK in the top 5 of the politicians French voters see as good candidates for the 2017 presidential elections. And he recently wrote two opinion pieces on the way Germany and the EU deal with the Greek crisis that show that he does not see himself as politically dead at all. Not only does he see himself as back in the game, so do French voters.
In Norway on the other hand, one does not need to be accused of aggravated pimping to become a political outcast. You don’t even need to do something criminal, and you don’t even need to be convicted. You rent a storehouse without the right authorizations and you lose all credibility as a politician (Åslaug Hage). That was not even a crime, it was a mistake, and wrong, but still. There are many other examples of Norwegian politicians who had to resign or at the very least apologize for a scandal of this scale: Fabian Stang and his under the table work in his house, Åslaug Haga and her storehouse, Trude Drevland and her free ticket to Venice (for work), or Bård Hoksrud and his Latvian prostitutes to name a few (naming a few politicians, not prostitutes). In France such stories would hardly raise an eyebrow. Maybe create a little laughter.
Norwegians apologize, French accuse others of their crimes
In Norway the first move of a politician is to apologize and ask for the forgiveness of its voters. Politicians don’t apologize in France, that just shows you are weak. Even worse, when a scandal comes out in the news, the classic defence for a French politician is to look outraged. “I am a victim!” is what they scream in the media. Nicolas Sarkozy, Alain Juppé, Jean Francois Copé all said they were victims of a conspiracy when they were accused of all sorts of crimes. And the French public tends to believe them especially in the case of DSK’s Sofitel case. ………………………