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Who is Dominique Strauss-Kahn?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated May 23, 2024
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Dominique Strauss-Kahn is the tenth managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), having taken the post at the end of 2007. He is a noted economist, a successful politician with the Socialist Party in France, and a lawyer. Dominique Strauss-Kahn is generally placed nearer to the center than many in the leftist Socialist Party of France, allowing him to take more conservative and moderate positions, and opening a wide array of avenues to him, including the job at the IMF.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was born in 1949, and went on to study both politics and economics at university, earning a Ph.D as well as a degree in law. In school he was a member of the Union of Communist Students, and later he joined the Center on Socialist Education Studies and Research (CERES). It was while with CERES that he became friends with Lionel Jospin, who would later be Prime Minister under the Socialist Party.

In the late-1970s Dominique Strauss-Kahn began teaching economics at the university level. He would move in and out of the academic world from then on, taking breaks to become heavily involved in politics, and then occasionally returning to a university to teach. In the early-1980s he became actively involved in the Socialist Party, which was being led by his friend Lionel Jospin. In the late-1980s he was elected to his first public post, and he went on to take on the role of chairman of the National Assembly Committee on Finances.

In the early-1990s Dominique Strauss-Kahn was appointed Junior Minister for Industry and Foreign Trade, and from then on he would be involved politically in most of the governments over the next fifteen years. He became mayor of Sarcelles in 1995, and in 1997 took over as the Minister of Economics and Finance for France under his friend Lionel Jospin, who was then Prime Minister.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn implemented a number of neo-liberal policies during his tenure as Minister, including a wide-sweeping program of privatization. This drew him the ire of some in the Socialist Party, but ultimately his programs led to a booming of the French economy and widespread public support. Dominique Strauss-Kahn left the post as Minister in 1999, following allegations of corruption. He spent the next two years fighting the charges, and was eventually acquitted.

In the following years, he became even more involved in leading the Socialist Party in France, and helped to create a strategy for the 2007 elections. In 2005 he announced that he himself would be seeking the nomination of the Socialist Party to run for President of France. Dominique Strauss-Kahn lost the nomination, and in 2007 he was nominated to be the leader of the IMF. He was up against only one other nominee, Josef Tosovsky, a Czech. Dominique Strauss-Kahn had widespread support, including from the United States, the entire European Union, and China, and was made the head of the IMF in late-2007.

Since he took over, Dominique Strauss-Kahn has garnered relatively favorable reviews for his performance. In 2008 an investigation was launched following allegations that he had an affair with a senior economist with the IMF. Although it was determined that he had engaged in the affair, the board found that he was not guilty of abusing his position, and he remained in his post.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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