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Strauss-Kahn case complicates France's electoral landscape

07-04-2011 15:35 BJT Special Report:IMF Chief Arrested for Sexual Assault |

PARIS, July 3 (Xinhua) -- Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been freed from house arrest due to the declining credibility of the hotel maid who accused him of sexual assault.

Former head of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Dominique Strauss-Kahn (C)
and his wife Anne Sinclair (L) leave New York State Supreme Court in New York,
the United States, July 1, 2011. Prosecutors agreed on Friday to release
Strauss-Kahn on his own recognizance. In a brief hearing at State Supreme Court
in Manhattan, the judge freed Strauss-Kahn from house arrest. Prosecutors
acknowledged that there were significant credibility issues with the hotel
housekeeper who accused Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her in May in a Manhattan
hotel room. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)

Friday's dramatic turn in the cause celebre was set to convolute France's presidential race as it revived the possibility for Strauss-Kahn, considered a viable candidate before his May 14 arrest in New York, to compete for the country's top job.

A number of opinion polls conducted before the scandal broke showed that the former International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director represented the best chance for the Socialist Party, France's main opposition, to defeat President Nicolas Sarkozy and regain power next year.

Yet initial developments of the sexual assault case washed away such a possibility, as Strauss-Kahn was placed under house arrest and forced to quit his IMF post, while his reputation and support rates plunged.

In its aftermath, the Socialist Party opened its presidential primary process last week, with party leader Martine Aubry and former party leader Francois Hollande leading the candidates.

However, the latest change in the Strauss-Kahn case threw the Socialist Party into disarray once again, bringing new parameters into the party's calculations.

For starters, the party is mulling whether to delay the July 13 primary registration deadline to give time to Strauss-Kahn, whose next appearance in court is scheduled for July 18.

Meanwhile, the scenario that Strauss-Kahn throws his hat in the ring would force the Socialists to reconsider the choices they made when Strauss-Kahn was unavailable, possibly leading to some chaos within the party.

Yet it remains unclear whether the former IMF chief will join the race. Some pundits have cautioned that even if Strauss-Kahn was proven innocent, he would unlikely regain the popular domestic support he enjoyed previously, because his image has been seriously tarnished by the scandal and his renting of a luxury apartment for house arrest.

Other analysts have delineated another scenario: If Strauss-Kahn was cleared of the charges, he could return to the French political arena by throwing his weight behind a presidential contender instead of joining the race himself.

The French public is apparently divided over whether Strauss-Kahn should be back on the political stage. A poll published Sunday by local daily Le Parisien showed that out of 1,000 people surveyed, 49 percent said he should return to political life, while 45 percent said he should not.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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