Will Strauss-Kahn Return To French Politics?

Reports from New York suggest a judge will drop all criminal charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The news will likely have mixed reaction in France, where people are sharply divided over their feelings toward the former head of the IMF.

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We turn now to Eleanor Beardsley in Paris to see how the news is being taken there. Good morning, Eleanor.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: You know, what is the reaction in France?

BEARDSLEY: Well, this is just huge. I mean, this is the top news competing with Libya. It's just all over the TVs, newspapers. Everyone's doing special programs on it. So it's pretty huge. This has been France's summer soap opera. I mean since it happened on May 14, the country has just been following every single bit of it.

MONTAGNE: So even as the case seemed to be falling apart in New York, there were questions about Strauss-Kahn actually returning to politics. Now that it's actually happened, what does it look like?

BEARDSLEY: Well, some of his good friends in the Socialist Party - and I will say some of his cronies - are talking about the possibility of him coming back. But most analysts are saying absolutely not. And you talk to people on the street and you hear them on the radio, you know, they say no way. I mean he's damaged goods. Even if he gets off, people still in their minds, they know that a sexual act occurred and they have doubts about, you know, what happened in that hotel room.

And everyone now, you know, they're saying we want to hear from him, but still, no matter what he says, something happened. A man who wanted to be president had a sexual act with a hotel maid, so he is damaged goods. He cannot come back to French politics.

MONTAGNE: And of course there's another accusation waiting for him in France.

BEARDSLEY: That's right. A young woman who got strength from the, you know, the New York hotel maid, she has finally filed a case. She says in 2002 Dominique Strauss-Kahn, you know, attacked her, and that is now under investigation by French magistrates. We don't know yet whether that will go to trial but they are talking to everyone involved, and she spoke to a lot of people at the time. So that's ongoing. He's got to face that when he comes back.

MONTAGNE: And she's a young French woman with, you know, a powerful family of her own. What will Strauss-Kahn do next?

BEARDSLEY: Well, people are saying he will first head to Washington, where he has a home and a house and he really wants to talk to his colleagues and staff at the IMF and explain himself, you know, even though everyone is wondering what he's going to say. And then they're saying that he will come back to France then, where everyone will be waiting to hear from him.

Whatever happens with Strauss-Kahn personally, France has changed forever, you know, in the way political men behave, in the way women are treated. And people are talking about the before May 14 and the after May 14. So France has changed forever with this affair.

MONTAGNE: Eleanor, thanks very much.

BEARDSLEY: Good to be with you, Renee.

MONTAGNE: We've been talking to Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.

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