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.