Whatever way you look at it Dominique Strauss-Kahn has had an amazing reversal of fortune.
The man known in France as “the great seducer” may not have to spend any more time for now before a US criminal judge but he still faces another massive battle to rebuild his reputation.
To help him do that some in France’s Socialist Party are preparing the way for him to return to politics.
Originally brought into government in the 1990s by François Mitterrand, the technocrat had no party powerbase but the outsider quickly built one and impressed with his debating skills and command of his chosen subject, economics.
Yet he already trailed behind him criticisms of being a slick operator, too clever by half, and a predatory ladies’ man despite being married to glamorous journalist Anne Sinclair, a familiar face on French television and the inheritor of an art collection worth millions who gave up her career for Strauss-Kahn.
With a successful track record as a minister behind him, and by now one of the party’s biggest guns in 2006 DSK stood to become the Socialist’s presidential candidate. He eventually lost out to Segolene Royal.
Although Royal remains a key figure in the party, her star shines less brightly these days following her disastrous 2007 campaign against Nicolas Sarkozy. At the time many thought Strauss-Kahn would have made a better showing, even if his popularity among the electorate was not especially strong.
Since then for DSK and the French electorate it has perhaps been a case of absence makes the heart grow fonder. Just after his election as president, Nicolas Sarkozy backed DSK’s bid to take charge of the International Monetary Fund, in part to get rid of a serious rival at home.
In New York he gained widespread credit for steering the IMF through the global economic crisis, and as Sarkozy lost his sheen, Strauss-Khan seemed to gain in gravitas.
Until the Diallo affair exploded, he was widely tipped to become the next president of France and was leading in all the opinion polls. But the man who has replaced him as the left’s favourite stills sees a way for Strauss-Kahn to return to politics.
“If you want to know how I feel, I think that whatever has been said a man with the expertise of Dominique Strauss-Khan can serve his country,” said Socialist party presidential candidate and former party secretary François Hollande.
However Strauss-Kahn is still facing a possible investigation in France where journalist and writer Tristane Banon has accused him of attempted rape. A statute of limitations on a lesser crime of sexual aggression has already expired. There is also a host of rumours and tales of past sexual shenanigans buzzing around him that the Diallo affair has brought out into the open.
Strauss-Kahn has denied Banon’s claims, describing the allegations as “fantasy,” but for Banon’s lawyer, the DSK affair has only just begun.
He has described the chorus of voices on the French left seeking to smooth the path of Strauss-Kahn’s rehabilitation as “crassly indecent”, and the Communist Party’s former leader and presidential candidate Marie-Georges Buffet broke ranks to call the collapse of the criminal trial “bad news for justice and bad news for women”.