DSK case a boon for women in French politics?

Former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn leaves a Manhattan courthouse with his wife, Anne Sinclair, July 1, 2011, in New York.
AP Photo

There are many in France who were suspicious from the beginning of the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

They resented what they saw as a rush to judgment and were appalled at the humiliating perp walk the senior figure in French politics was subjected to.

But whatever the insult, Strauss-Kahn's political career as a potential challenger to French President Nikolas Sarkozy appeared to be over.

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Tonight though, French newscasts were reporting that the stories of Strauss-Kahn's political death may have been premature, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips. A rehabilitation of sorts had begun. But in a French, not an American, way.

"The American way of doing things would be, 'I am so sorry about this, I have a problem, I'm seeking therapy, my wife is a saint, she supports me, I don't deserve her' and you go and do this," said French political analyst Anne-Elisabeth Moutet. "But the French do not apologize. In this country, we have an ancient Roman attitude - you admit to a weakness and you're down."

The rape allegation in New York had opened the tap on a drip-drip of charges of inappropriate conduct in the past by Strauss-Kahn at home in France and on the treatment of women generally in politics there.

DSK scandal forces French sexism debate

The Strauss-Kahn case, it was said, was so embarrassing it would finally change the gender landscape in French politics.

"The way we interact in France with women, in particular the political circles, and it's true some people did say. 'maybe we don't treat our women as we should do,' so that may be the positive outcome of the story," said Christian Roudait, a correspondent for Radio France.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is still seen as too damaged to be a serious contender in the next French presidential election. But he can be an influence. One opinion poll showed his popularity rating has gone up five percent.

  • Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips is CBS News senior foreign correspondent, based in London.