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PARIS (Reuters) - Anne Sinclair, wife of the disgraced former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is France's most popular woman, just ahead of new IMF chief Christine Lagarde and well ahead of French first lady Carla Bruni, according to an opinion poll released Monday.
Sinclair, a wealthy art heiress who was a star TV journalist in the 1980s, saw her life turned upside down on May 14 when her
husband was arrested in New York on now-dropped charges of trying to rape a hotel maid. She stuck by him.
In the CSA poll for on-line women's magazine Terrafemina, Sinclair won the "Woman of the Year" title with a first-place score of 25 percent, far ahead of President Nicolas Sarkozy's wife, singer and former supermodel Carla Bruni, who scored 16 percent.
Sinclair, who was much better known to the French than
Strauss-Kahn when they married in the early 1990s, also took pride of place ahead of Christine Lagarde, who quit her job as French finance minister to replace Strauss-Kahn at the International Monetary Fund when he abruptly quit in May. Lagarde scored 24 percent.
Strauss-Kahn was runaway favorite to become France's next president until the May 14 arrest dashed his IMF career and French political ambitions.
Sinclair has stood behind Strauss-Kahn since the U.S. incident and his return to France, where controversy continues to plague him despite the fact that public prosecutors shelved a separate sex assault complaint against him by French writer Tristane Banon.
The CSA poll of 1,005 people, conducted by phone on December 6-7, showed support for Sinclair, whose TV interviews and mohair sweaters fascinated millions of viewers in her heyday, was most popular among women aged 50 and over. Lagarde scored better than her among male respondents.
Reporting by Brian Love; editing by Geert De Clercq