- Associated Press - Sunday, July 3, 2011

PARIS (AP) — A new poll indicates that the French are divided over whether Dominique Strauss-Kahn should re-enter French politics after the weakening of the sexual assault case against the former International Monetary Fund chief.

Forty-nine percent of those surveyed in the Harris Interactive poll for French newspaper Le Parisien responded ‘yes’ to the question “Without prejudging his innocence or guilt, do you want DSK to come back to the French political scene one day?”

Forty-five percent said ‘no’ and 6 percent didn’t answer the question, according to the poll published Sunday in Le Parisien. The agency asked a demographically representative group of 1,000 people 18 years old and older to fill out the July 1-2 online survey. No margin of error was provided.

Left-leaning voters were more favorable to a return to politics by Mr. Strauss-Kahn, the man who was once the Socialist party’s main contender to face off against President Nicolas Sarkozy in next April’s presidential election.

Sixty percent of left-leaning voters said the would want Mr. Strauss-Kahn back in French politics someday, according to the poll, and 38 percent said no.

On the more pressing question of whether the Socialists should suspend the presidential primary calendar because of the new developments, respondents were also evenly split. Forty-nine percent of all French and 47 percent of left-leaning voters said ‘no.’

Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s next court date is July 18, while the Socialist party has set a July 13 deadline for candidates to declare whether they will run in the primary, now scheduled for Oct. 9 and Oct. 16.

A close ally of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s said the former IMF chief “will be an important actor in the campaign if he wants to, whose voice will be listened to.”

In an interview in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper Sunday, Socialist party legislator Pierre Moscovici said he has not spoken with Mr. Strauss-Kahn since before he was freed from house arrest in New York on Friday. He said it is “premature” to speculate on what role Mr. Strauss-Kahn yet could play in French politics.

“When he regains his freedom and he is cleared, all options are open to him,” Mr. Moscovici said.