Far-right strengthened by Strauss-Kahn assault arrest

Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Dominique Strauss-Kahn

The derailment of IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn's political career over sexual assault allegations could strengthen the influence of France's far-right.

Mr Strauss-Kahn was arrested and charged with the "criminal sexual act, unlawful imprisonment, and attempted rape" of a 32-year-old chambermaid at a New York hotel yesterday.

The Socialist Party politician, whose Jewish parents moved to Morocco when he was a child, had been tipped as a viable challenger to current French President Nicholas Sarkozy at next year's elections.

Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyer Benjamin Brafman said his client would plead not guilty to the charges, but the case could dra g on past the July deadline for Socialist party candidates to declare for the election.

According to recent polls Marine Le Pen, the head of France's National Front party and the daughter of former far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, trails behind Mr Strauss-Kahn.

But without a strong Socialist contender, her position would be stronger.

She told French television channel i-Tele: "The case and the charges...mark the end of his campaign and pre-campaign for the presidency and will most likely prompt the IMF to ask him to leave his post."

Mr Strauss-Kahn's wife Anne Sinclair said the claims were untrue. "I have no doubt his innocence will be established," she said.

Last updated: 10:52am, May 18 2011