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French leftists want Strauss-Kahn return to politics: poll

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his wife Anne Sinclair leave their temporary Manhattan residence in New York
Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his wife Anne Sinclair leave their temporary Manhattan residence in New York

PARIS, July 3 - Sixty percent of left-leaning French voters want former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, whose high-profile trial on sexual assault charges could now collapse, to return to French politics, a poll released on Sunday showed.

Among the general public, 49 percent want Strauss-Kahn to return to the French political scene while 45 percent are against it, a Harris Interactive poll of 1,000 French people aged 18 and over.

The poll, published by French daily Le Parisien, was taken after Strauss-Kahn's release from house arrest on Friday and news that questions had been raised about the credibility of his accuser.

Before his arrest on May 14 on charges of sexually assaulting a hotel cleaner in New York, Strauss-Kahn had been widely expected to challenge French president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012 elections and was the most popular among other possible contenders.

The poll also showed that while left-wing sympathizers see Strauss-Kahn returning to French politics, they are less sure about whether he should take part in the 2012 presidential race.

Only 51 percent of French leftists want the Socialist Party to postpone the July 13 deadline for registering candidacies in the primary to choose the party's contender.

Among the wider population, 49 percent of those polled -- compared to 43 percent of leftists -- do not want the Socialist Party to postpone the deadline.

Strauss-Kahn's next court appearance in New York will be for a July 18 hearing.

His supporters say he should have the right to run for the French presidency. If the U.S. justice system were to clear Strauss-Kahn's name, he could still make a bid, as candidates have until mid-March to declare themselves for the April 22 election.

But analysts say that the massive media coverage about his philandering and luxury lifestyle have damaged his image, making a 2012 run unlikely.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

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