Super-rich French face tax hike if Hollande wins power

Socialist front-runner in presidential race seeks to seize political agenda on eve of visit to London

Paris

The French presidential front-runner, François Hollande, has threatened a 75 per cent tax on the income of the super-rich, setting off a political storm on the eve of a one-day London visit today.

In a spectacular gesture towards left-wing voters, the moderate Socialist candidate said that he would impose the tax hike on marginal earnings over €1m if he is elected President on 6 May.

The proposal, which took even some of Mr Hollande's senior supporters by surprise, was intended to wrest momentum from President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been throwing out new initiatives daily since he entered the race two weeks ago.

The Socialist candidate, still the clear favourite in fresh polls published yesterday, said that a super-tax on those earning "100 times the minimum wage" would be an act of "social justice" and "patriotism".

Opponents condemned the 75 per cent tax band as an "absurd" idea, dreamt up "on the hoof" for electoral gain, which would raise little extra revenue and drive wealth creators out of France. President Sarkozy accused Mr Hollande of "improvisation" and "amateurism". "Not a single other politician in the world, not one, thinks this is a good idea," he said.

The "75 per cent" super-tax would make France the least comfortable place to be rich in the European Union. At most, 30,000 people, and maybe as few as 6,000, would be affected.

The high tax rate would apply only to those earning above €1m (€2m for married couples). Earnings up to those ceilings would be taxed on a sliding scale of up to 41 per cent.

It was not entirely coincidental that Mr Hollande, 57, made the proposal on the eve of today's visit to London. In his first big campaign rally in January, the Socialist candidate delighted hard-left voters by saying that his "real opponent" was the "world of finance". In a conversation with British and American journalists two weeks ago, Mr Hollande moderated his language.

He said that he planned to curb the "excesses" of the financial markets – in much the same way that President Barack Obama did – but that the City of London need have no exaggerated fears of a Hollande presidency.

The Socialist candidate will attempt to reconcile the two sides of "Hollandisme" – the "enemy" of big finance and the pragmatic and moderate politician – when he gives a speech at King's College London this afternoon. Earlier, he will have talks, and lunch, at the Palace of Westminster with the Labour leader, Ed Milliband, and members of the Shadow Cabinet. In the evening, he will address members of the 300,000-strong French community in London.

Mr Hollande had also requested a meeting with David Cameron, who endorsed President Sarkozy's re-election attempt when he visited Paris 10 days ago. Downing Street said that the Prime Minister would "not be available".

Three new opinion polls published yesterday went some of the way towards clearing the confusion caused by divergent first-round polls last week. Both showed that President Sarkozy had narrowed Mr Hollande's lead for the first round of the election on 22 April but that the Socialist challenger was still on course to win the second round by a landslide.

In one poll yesterday, by Ifop, Mr Hollande's first-round lead was cut to 1.5 percentage points (28.5 per cent to Mr Sarkozy's 27 per cent, with other candidates trailing far behind). Two other polls, by Sofres and Ipsos, gave Mr Hollande a 4.5-point and two-point first-round lead.

Suggested Topics
Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior DBA (SQL Server, T-SQL, SSIS, SSAS) London - Finance

£30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior DBA (SQ...

Business Anaylst

£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

Senior Project Manager

£60000 - £90000 per annum + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Global leading Energy Tra...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment