Disgraced DSK more popular than Hollande with French Left

The disgraced former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has emerged as the second most popular presidential candidate for France's Left-wing voters, ahead of incumbent president François Hollande.

Strauss-Kahn, known as DSK, has been prosecuted three times for sexual misconduct in the last four years, though he has not been convicted. He was acquitted of his last remaining charge last month and celebrated by joining Twitter and tweeting the cryptic message: "Jack is back". This prompted speculation about him potentially returning to public office with a poll indicating that 38% of French voters would like to see him return.

Now a new poll published in Left-wing daily Libération has found that out of the potential Left-wing presidential hopefuls in France's 2017 election, DSK was second only to prime minister Manuel Valls, attracting 37% of support to Valls's 47%

Prior to 2011, when sordid details about DSK's sex life came to light after he was embroiled in a pimping scandal, he had served as France's finance minister and even put himself forward to run for president in 2006. However, he was not chosen as the Socialist Party candidate and subsequently headed the IMF.

According to the new poll DSK is more popular than incumbent president François Hollande, who was quoted by Reuters in February as saying that he would not stand for reelection if he could not reduce unemployment. High unemployment in France has remained one of the crucial factors which has led to Hollande's decline in popularity since being elected in 2012, as public broadcaster RFI reported last week that the rate of unemployment reached a record high of 3.55 million in May.

Only 23% of respondents thought Hollande was a good presidential candidate.

François Miquet-Marty, head of pollster Viavoice who organised the survey on behalf of Libération called DSK's result "particularly unexpected".

DSK also beat other high profile figures of the French Left-wing such as Lille mayor Martine Aubry who won 28% and former economics minister Arnaud Montebourg who achieved 24%.

"The French do not want the Sarkozy-Hollande duel that is shaping up," Miquet-Marty says. "In their eyes, DSK is the candidate of transgression. His behavior and his high-profile legal battles have pushed him out of power, relegated him to the margins, but without compromising his image of strength, of competence and capacity to change things."

Despite the increasing speculation, DSK has not yet commented on whether he plans to return to politics. In 2013 he told Russian news channel Rossiya-24 that he had no intention of doing so.