PARIS- He lost his job over a rape allegation and had the sordid details of his sex life laid bare in a prostitution trial, but that is not enough to turn French voters against Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
A new poll published Thursday says the disgraced former finance minister is the second most popular choice among a list of left-wing politicians for the 2017 presidential election, way ahead of the incumbent, Francois Hollande.
That is despite Strauss-Kahn being forced to resign in disgrace from his job as head of the International Monetary Fund in 2011 after being accused of sexual assault by a New York hotel maid.
Those criminal charges were dropped in 2012 and the case was settled in a civil suit.
Strauss-Kahn also faced an embarrassing trial in France this year, in which he was accused of involvement in a prostitution ring.
Although he said he was unaware the women were prostitutes and was found not guilty, the trial involved a tortuous blow-by-blow of his rapacious sexual habits.
Pollsters Viavoice said 37 per cent of those questioned thought Strauss-Kahn would be a good choice for the presidency, beaten only by the current prime minister, Manuel Valls, on 47 percent.
Hollande, whose poll ratings have plummeted over his handling of the economy, managed just 23 per cent.
Also beating Hollande were environment minister - and his former partner - Segolene Royal (32 per cent), Lille mayor Martine Aubry (28 per cent) and rebellious former economy minister Arnaud Montebourg (24 per cent).
"The results concerning Dominique Strauss-Kahn are particularly unexpected," said Viavoice boss Francois Miquet-Marty.
Another poll in late June for TV station BFMTV found nearly two in five French voters (38 percent) wanted him to return to politics.
Strauss-Kahn has made a few tentative moves back into the public eye in recent weeks, opening a Twitter account on which he has given his opinions on the Greek crisis.
Strauss-Kahn, who played a key role in the original bailout programme for Greece when he was head of the IMF, released a three-page letter entitled "Learning from one's mistakes", in which he said international creditors should accept a temporary suspension of payments by Athens.