The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Sarkozy Panderfest Begins

Nicolas Sarkozy is running scared. Socialist candidate Francois Hollande has wrong-footed the embattled French President by running against the bankers and finance capital, always a popular move in France–and one particularly damaging to Sarkozy. As Reuters reports:

Sarkozy is battling to shake off the image that he is a friend of the rich, which has dogged him since he cut inheritance and other taxes on the wealthy early in his presidency.

Hollande is meanwhile casting himself as the friend of the middle and lower classes, in part with a proposal to hit millionaires with an new upper income tax rate of 75 percent.

And so Sarkozy has opted to take the low, populist road in an effort to rescue his flagging electoral prospects.  He’s attacking immigrants, demanding that Muslims (and Jews) conform more to French norms, and threatening to pull out of the Schengen open borders agreement. And now he’s adding a new pander policy–a tax on rich exiles and expats:

Not to be outdone, Sarkozy said he would require French citizens living abroad to declare what they pay in taxes abroad and that French authorities would levy a tax on the difference between that and what they would have paid on investment income in France.

The French are already rewarding their unpopular president with an uptick in the polls. With six weeks until the first round of the presidential election, expect more of the same from Sarkozy in the days to come. France’s race to the bottom could be interesting to watch.

Published on March 14, 2012 6:32 am
  • Albert

    I don’t see how you can call Sarko’s tax policy towards expatriates as being a race to the bottom. It is a carbon copy of present U.S. tax laws towards expatriates.

  • http://theladiesmap.com Pedro Marquez

    I recently visited both Paris and London. It was remarkable how much French was being spoken in London. Upon my return I read in a Roger Cohen (naive on Iran, but in this case perceptive) column that with 300,000 French, London is now the 6th-biggest French city in the world! Some of these French are businessmen and celebrities moving for tax reasons, but I’d say a lot are young people looking for opportunity and excitement. Also a lot of Italian being spoken…

    if the EU survives in its present form, large-scale migration will be a fact of European life.

    btw Albert is right.

  • Kris

    Albert@1: I don’t consider the US expat laws to be particularly high.

    Pedro@2: Perhaps the rest of the Cohen column is perceptive, but that particular factoid is hardly original. Just stick “6th-biggest French city in the world” in a search engine. (I’m not criticizing you. Well, unless you expect originality from the NYT columnists. :-) )

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    I often wonder why the French are even considered a Western Culture, the French certainly don’t have Western instincts, with their support of Marxism, Socialism, and Communism.

    “Who needs Enemies, when the French are your Allies”
    Remember Freedom Fries?

  • http://www.theatreofthedamned.com Tom Richards

    Jacksonian Libertarian, I’m afraid to say that unless what you mean by “Western” is really “Anglophone”, the French are pretty typical, and indeed less extreme than some. If you want to find advocates of limited government in continental Europe, you had better look to the East of the erstwhile Iron Curtain.