Paris: International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has emerged as the most popular figure on the French political stage, according to two polls published on Tuesday which are likely to fuel speculation about his future.
Strauss-Kahn was deliberately coy in a radio interview last week when asked if he might leave the Washington-based IMF early and return to his native France in time to mount a challenge against President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012 elections.
Sarkozy has seen his own ratings slide in recent months, while support for Strauss-Kahn, a veteran Socialist, has soared.
An Ifop survey for Paris Match said 76 percent of people had a positive opinion of the wily Strauss-Kahn, putting him at the top of their closely-watched league table, along with former president, Jacques Chirac, who has vanished into retirement.
Sarkozy, whose center-right UMP party faces a whitewash in regional elections next month, had support of just 38 percent -- a drop of 5 percentage points on January which left him languishing in 34th spot in the monthly popularity poll.
A separate survey by BVA showed 39 percent of respondents were satisfied with Sarkozy's performance while 56 disapproved, his worst reading since August 2008.
When asked which politician they would like to see have more influence in France, Strauss-Kahn led the field by a full nine points, with 53 percent backing the former finance minister.
First Published: Wednesday, February 17, 2010, 11:40