Tuesday, July 16, 2013

They never fade away

Several news items of interest about people who really should retire from the political and media circuit but seem unable to do so. First of all, we have our old friend Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the man who has caused so much hilarity through the various scandals he was involved in and who opened up a, sadly, brief discussion about the sexual mores of the the French political left. He is back in the news, having gone the way of other dubious Western politicians and taken the Putin rouble.

He "has been given a board position in the Russian Regional Development Bank" in order to raise the corporate profile of said Kremlin owned organization. The New York Times reminds us that the bank is a subsidiary of Rosneft.
Rosneft’s media office declined to elaborate on the appointment or on how Mr. Strauss-Kahn would be compensated.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a former French presidential contender, is re-emerging in a much smaller role than he once had. The Russian Regional Development Bank is hardly a financial heavyweight. It ranks No. 64 in Russia by assets.

Vedomosti, the leading Russian business newspaper, reported that Rosneft may be seeking to raise the profile of the bank by hiring a former International Monetary Fund director.
It is not as good as the various lavish positions former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder managed to grab.

If DSK is trying to make his way back or, at least, to earn large sums of money, Claude Juncker is refusing to go away. As Der Spiegel put it yesterday:
Jean-Claude Juncker has been in power in Luxembourg for 18 years, but he still isn't ready to fade into retirement. After tripping over a secret service scandal, he is now planning his comeback -- a project that could ultimately land him a senior European Union position.
The Luxembourg Prime Minister, the longest serving politician in Europe, has been holding on, refusing to admit that he had any responsibility for decisions taken by government officials while he was in the main seat (that is, for the last eighteen years).
In the end, he chose to go on the offensive. He appeared in parliament and proposed holding snap new elections. In doing so, he escaped the humiliation of a no-confidence vote and didn't even have to officially resign. Not even Helmut Kohl could have come up with a better trick.
His position in the EU is not nearly as strong as it used to be and his relationship with Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande (the only two that matter) is said to be tense. But he has become used to being a political leader and he does not want to go.
Now that the decision has been made to hold new elections, it is unclear how much longer Juncker will continue to sit at the table of EU leaders. Although his CSV is likely to remain the strongest party, it is unclear whether the patriarch will be able to easily find a coalition partner. In the wake of the intelligence scandals, the Socialists, part of the current coalition government, have moved closer to the opposition Liberals and Greens. It can't be ruled out that, for the first time, there will be a three-party-alliance in Luxembourg after the new elections. Unlike the CSV, the Socialists have completed a generational shift. Long-standing Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn is no longer campaigning as the party's top candidate, instead paving the way for the younger generation.

But even if Juncker doesn't get another chance at home, his career likely won't come to a rapid end. The European People's Party is urgently seeking a top candidate for the European Parliament election in May 2014. Juncker, known throughout Europe and fluent in many languages, would be the ideal candidate.

The winner of the election also stands to be appointed to a top EU post. Juncker, for instance, could become president of the European Commission or the European Council, even though he, of course, denies any such ambitions. He wants to remain in Luxembourg, says Juncker. "I'm campaigning to become my own successor."
And talking of people who refuse to fade away, I see those giants of political thought, Ken Clarke and Peter Mandelson are back, having formed a new pressure group with the help of Danny Alexander. Called British Influence (the one that has been missing in recent decades) it is proposing that
Britain should abandon attempts to secure a new "special deal" from the European Union and push instead for reform covering all 28 EU members.
That should work. Mind you, I can see those ideas becoming quite popular when we reach the fabled referendum shore.


  1. And on the other side of the pond we have the two comeback kids Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer showing that morality is an outdated concept also in US politics; at least at the Dem side of the political divide.


  2. Yes, perhaps, I ought to have mentioned them, Mikgen. Thank you for reminding us. Not sure whether to laugh or hold my nose.

  3. They never fade away..nowadays, you should have added. Or did you intend to follow up with this (50 years ago give or take a month or so)?

    Doing the Decent Thing

    ....is not done these days.

  4. Forgot to note that the above post was by


  5. Relatively decent. It took Profumo quite a while to resign as he was hoping that the storm will just pass over. But having resigned he did leave politics and devote his life to charity work (and, presumably, continued socializing). Better than anything we get now. Except for David Miliband, who, without any scandal (apart from the general one of the Labour Party) has left politics to work for a charity. We shall see how that progresses.