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Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Assumed office 
1 November 2007
Preceded by Rodrigo de Rato

In office
4 June 1997 – 2 November 1999
Preceded by Jean Arthuis
Succeeded by Christian Sautter

Born 25 April 1949 (1949-04-25) (age 60)
Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Nationality France French
Political party Socialist Party
Religion Jewish

Dominique Strauss-Kahn (born 25 April 1949 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine), often referred to as DSK,[citation needed] is a French economist, lawyer, and politician, member of the Socialist Party (PS). He was selected as the new Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 28 September 2007.

A former Finance and Economy Minister in Lionel Jospin's "Plural Left" government, he belongs to the center-left wing of the PS. He sought the nomination in the primaries to the Socialist presidential candidacy for the 2007 election but was defeated by Ségolène Royal in November 2006.

Strauss-Kahn was also a Professor at the National Administration School (ENA), at the Paris Institute for Political Studies ("Sciences Po") and the HEC School of Management.

Strauss-Kahn is widely expect to seek again the socialist primary for President of France in 2012.[1] Aggregate polling indicates that he leads President Sarkozy by four points.[2]


Origins and education

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was born on 25 April 1949 to Gilbert Strauss-Kahn and Jacqueline Fellus, in the wealthy Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine. He spent part of his childhood in Agadir, Morocco, which he left after the 1960 earthquake to go to Monaco.

In high school at lycée Carnot, he earned top grades and entered the prestigious school Hautes Études Commerciales (HEC), where he received his diploma in 1971 and then studied political science at Sciences Po Paris (graduation in 1972). He sat and failed the entrance examination for the l'Ecole nationale d'administration, but obtained a degree in public law, as well as a Ph.D and an agrégation (1977) in economics at the Université Paris X.

Academic career

In 1977, Strauss-Kahn became an economics professor. He taught at the University of Nancy-II (1977-1980), at the University of Nanterre (since 1981) and the École nationale d'administration (ENA) administration school. After a short time teaching at HEC, he became professor at Sciences Po.

In 1971, he worked at the Centre de recherche sur l'épargne (Research Centre on Savings) alongside Paul Hermelin, who many years later (1991) was to become his chief of staff at the Ministry of Industry, and Denis Kessler, at the time a member of the Revolutionary Communist League and a future vice-president of the MEDEF employers' union. In 1982, Kessler became his teaching assistant in Nanterre, and co-authored L’Épargne et la Retraite ("Savings and Retirement") with him the same year.

He came back to Sciences Po to teach the introductory economics course from 2000 to 2007.

Political career

Strauss-Kahn was first an activist member of the Union des Etudiants Communistes (UEC, Union of Communist Students) [3], before joining in the 1970s the Centre d'études, de recherches et d'éducation socialiste (Center on Socialist Education Studies and Research, CERES) led by Jean-Pierre Chevènement, future presidential candidate for the 2002 election [3]. There, he befriended the future French prime minister Lionel Jospin (PS).

After the election of President François Mitterrand (PS) in 1981, he decided to stay out of government. He got involved in the Socialist Party (PS), at the time led by Lionel Jospin and founded Socialisme et judaïsme ("Socialism and Judaism"). The next year, he was appointed to the Commissariat au plan (Planning Commission) as commissaire-adjoint.

In 1986 he was elected deputy for the first time in the Haute-Savoie department, and in 1988 in the Val-d'Oise department. He became chairman of the National Assembly Committee on Finances, famously exchanging heated words with the Finance Minister Pierre Bérégovoy (PS).


Minister for Industry (1991–1993)

In 1991, he was nominated by Mitterrand to be Junior Minister for Industry and Foreign Trade in Édith Cresson's social-democrat government. He kept his position in Pierre Bérégovoy's government until the 1993 general elections.

After the electoral defeat of 1993, Strauss-Kahn was appointed by former Prime Minister Michel Rocard chairman of the groupe des experts du PS ("Group of Experts of the Socialist Party"), created by Claude Allègre. The same year, he founded the law firm "DSK Consultants" and worked as a business lawyer.

In 1994, Raymond Lévy, then director of Renault, invited him to join the Cercle de l’Industrie, a French industry lobby in Brussels, where he met the billionaire businessman Vincent Bolloré and top manager Louis Schweitzer; Strauss-Kahn served as secretary-general and later as vice-president. This lobbyist activity earned him criticism from the alter-globalization left.

In June 1995, he was elected mayor of Sarcelles and married Anne Sinclair, a famous television journalist working for the private channel TF1 and in charge of a political show, Sept sur Sept. She ceased presenting this show after Strauss-Kahn's nomination as Minister of Economics and Finance in 1997 to avoid conflict of interest, while Strauss-Kahn himself would cede his place as mayor to François Pupponi in order to avoid double responsibilities.

Minister for Economics, Finances, and Industry (1997–1999)

In 1997, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin (PS) appointed Strauss-Kahn as Minister for Economics, Finance, and Industry, making him one of the most influential ministers in his Plural left government.

Although it was in theory contrary to the Socialist Party's electoral program, he implemented a wide privatization program, which included among others the IPO of France Telecom; he also implemented some deregulation policies in the research and development sector. The French economy achieved an excellent performance during his term of office: the GDP increased, whereas unemployment and public debt decreased (creation of 300,000 jobs in 1998, a level not seen since 1969). This helped to strengthen his popularity and managed to win the support of former supporters of Lionel Jospin and Michel Rocard, making him the leader of the reform-oriented group Socialisme et démocratie. Strauss-Kahn tried to oppose the working time reduction to 35 hours, a measure proposed by Martine Aubry, Minister for Social Policies.

In 1998 he became one of the leaders of the Socialist Party for the regional elections in the Ile-de-France region (Paris and suburbs), which were won by the PS. But as Strauss-Kahn refused to exchange his ministry for the executive leadership of the Ile-de-France, Jean-Paul Huchon became the president of the regional council.

In 1999, he was accused of corruption in two financial scandals related to Elf Aquitaine and the MNEF, a student mutual health insurance, and decided to resign from his ministerial office to fight these charges, in agreement with the "Balladur jurisprudence." He was replaced by Christian Sautter. He was acquitted in November 2001, and was reelected in a by-election in the Val-d'Oise.

As Minister of Economics and Finance, Strauss-Kahn succeeded in decreasing the VAT to 5.5% for renovation works in construction, thus supporting this activity. At the same time, he decreased the budget deficit, which was more than 3% of GDP under Alain Juppé's conservative government (1995-97). He thus prepared France's entrance in the euro zone. Strauss-Kahn also repealed the Thomas Act on hedge funds and launched the Conseil d'orientation des retraites (Orientation Council on Pensions).

Strauss-Kahn succeeded in combining followers of Jospin and Rocard in the same political movement, Socialisme et démocratie, but failed to make it more than an informal network.

In opposition

After Jacques Chirac's success in the 2002 presidential election and the following Union for a Popular Movement (UMP)'s majority in Parliament, Strauss-Kahn was reelected deputy on 16 June 2002, in the 8th circonscription of the Val-d'Oise. He first declined in taking part in the new leadership of the PS, then in the opposition, in the 2003 congress of the party. But he joined the party's leadershp again at the end of 2004, and was given overall responsibility for drawing up the Socialist programme for the 2007 presidential election, along with Martine Aubry and Jack Lang. During the summer meeting of 2005, he announced that he would be a candidate for the primary elections of the Socialist Party for the presidential election.

At the same time, Strauss-Kahn co-founded the think tank À gauche en Europe (To the Left in Europe) along with Michel Rocard [4]. He presided jointly with Jean-Christophe Cambadélis over the Socialisme et démocratie current in the PS.

Strauss-Kahn was one of the first French politician to enter the blogosphere [5]; his blog became one of the most visited, along with Juppé's blog during his stay in Quebec [6].

Strauss-Kahn then campaigned for the "Yes" at the referendum on the Project for a Treaty establishing a Constitution in Europe. More than 54% of the French citizens refused it, damaging Strauss-Kahn's position inside the PS, while left-wing Laurent Fabius, who had campaigned for a "No" vote, was reinforced.

IMF Managing Director

Strauss-Kahn sought the nomination for the Socialist candidacy in the 2007 presidential election. His challengers were former prime minister Laurent Fabius and Ségolène Royal, the president of the Poitou-Charentes region. Strauss-Kahn finished second, behind Royal. On 13 April 2007, Strauss-Kahn called for an "anti-Sarkozy front" between the two rounds of the forthcoming presidential election [7]. Following Ségolène Royal's defeat, Strauss-Kahn criticized the PS's strategy and its chairman, François Hollande [8]. Along with Fabius, he then resigned from the party's national directorate in June 2007 [9].

On 10 July 2007, he became the consensus European nominee to be the head of the IMF, with the personal support of President Nicolas Sarkozy (member of the conservative UMP party). Former Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka withdrew his candidacy as it was opposed by the majority of European countries [10]. Some critics alleged that Sarkozy proposed Strauss-Kahn as managing director of the IMF to deprive the Socialist Party of one of its more popular figures[11].

Strauss-Kahn became the front runner in the race to become Managing Director of the IMF, with the support of the 27-nation European Union, the United States, China and most of Africa. On 28 September 2007, the International Monetary Fund's 24 executive directors selected him as the new managing director. Strauss-Kahn replaces Spain's Rodrigo de Rato. [12] On 30 September 2007, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was formally named as the new head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The only other nominee was the Czech Josef Tošovský, a late candidate proposed by Russia. Strauss-Kahn said: "I am determined to pursue without delay the reforms needed for the IMF to make financial stability serve the international community, while fostering growth and employment." [13]

On October 18, 2008, the IMF announced it would conduct an investigation into an allegation reported by a long-standing governing board member, Shakour Shaalan of Egypt, that Strauss-Kahn had an affair with Piroska Nagy, a Hungarian-born senior economist at the IMF who subsequently left the IMF with a severance package. [14] On October 25, 2008, the IMF Board issued the findings of the investigation. While noting that the affair was "regrettable and reflected a serious error of judgment on the part of the managing director," the Board cleared Strauss-Kahn of harassment, favoritism or abuse of power, and indicated that he would remain in his post.[15][16]

Political career timeline

Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund : Since 2007.

Governmental functions

Minister of Industry and Foreign trade : 1991–1993.

Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry : 1997–1999.

Electoral mandates

Member of the National Assembly of France for Val d'Oise : 1986–1991 (Became minister in 1991) / Reelected in 1997, but he became minister / 2001–2007 (Resignation, became Managing Director of the IMF in 2007). Elected in 1986, reelected in 1988, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2007.

Regional Council

Regional councillor of Ile-de-France : 1998–2001 (Resignation).

Municipal Council

Mayor of Sarcelles : 1995–1997 (Resignation).

Deputy-mayor of Sarcelles : 1997–2007 (Resignation, became Managing Director of the IMF in 2007). Reelected in 2001.

Municipal councillor of Sarcelles : 1989–2007 (Resignation, became Managing Director of the IMF in 2007). Reelected in 1995, 2001.

Agglomeration community Council

President of the Agglomeration community of Val de France : 2002–2007 (Resignation, became Managing Director of the IMF in 2007).

Member of the Agglomeration community of Val de France : 2002–2007 (Resignation, became Managing Director of the IMF in 2007).


  • La Flamme et la Cendre, Grasset, 2002 (ISBN 2-01-279122-0)
  • Lettre ouverte aux enfants d’Europe, Grasset, 2004 (ISBN 2-246-68251-7)
  • Inflation et partage des surplus ; le cas des ménages. Cujas, 1975. (avec la coll. d'André Babeau, et André Masson).
  • Économie de la famille et accumulation patrimoniale. Cujas. 1977.
  • La Richesse des Français- Epargne, Plus-value/Héritage. (avec la coll. d'André Babeau). Paris: PUF, 1977. Collection « L'économiste » dirigée par Pierre Tabatoni. Enquête sur la fortune des Français.
  • Pierre Bérégovoy : une volonté de réforme au service de l'économie 1984-1993. Cheff, 2000. (avec la coll. de Christian Sautter)
  • Pour l'égalité réelle: Eléments pour un réformisme radical, Note de la Fondation Jean Jaurès 2004
  • DVD pour le Oui à la constitution, 2005
  • 365 jours, journal contre le renoncement, Grasset 2006


External links

National Assembly of France
Preceded by
Yves Sautier
Deputy for Haute-Savoie
1986 – 1988
Succeeded by
Michel Meylan
Preceded by
Deputy for Val-d'Oise
1988 – 1991
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Deputy for Val-d'Oise, 8th circonscription
2001 – 2007
Succeeded by
François Pupponi
Political offices
Preceded by
Roger Fauroux
Minister for Industry and Foreign Trade of France
1991 – 1993
Succeeded by
Gérard Longuet
Preceded by
Raymond Lamontagne
Mayor of Sarcelles
1995 – 1997
Succeeded by
François Pupponi
Preceded by
Jean Arthuis
Minister for Economics, Finance, and Industry of France
1997 – 1999
Succeeded by
Christian Sautter
Business positions
Preceded by
Rodrigo Rato
Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund
2007 – present


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