Jacques' new answer to Aids: VAT-free French letters

CAMPAIGN NOTEBOOK

Aids has made an appearance in the presidential election campaign. Candidates have been visiting Aids clinics. They all agree: something needs to be done. According to official figures, which may be an understatement, 110,000to 120,000 people in France are HIV positive. Of the 32,722 people who have developed full-blown Aids, 19,085 have died.

Now Jacques Chirac, the front-runner never at a loss for a quick policy fix, has come up with an answer: he would abolish value-added tax on contraceptives. Whether this would do the trick is open to question. Recent surveys on the use of contraceptives by young people have produced wildly contradictory findings. One said 75 per cent of people aged 15-18 had used contraceptives for their first sexual experience, but the newspaper Libration reported this week that 80 per cent of those aged 16-25 did not use any protection. In the moment of passion, would a Chirac VAT price cut make them think again?

rrr

As well as his sharp political skills, Jacques Chirac, the front-runner in the French presidential election, appears to be a dab hand when it comes to property. In an evident attempt to embarrass the Gaullist Mayor of Paris, leaks to the whistle-blowing weekly, the Canard Enchain have highlighted the way Mr Chirac has arranged his accommodation in the capital to his maximum advantage.

Last week the Canard revealed that - apart from his huge official City Hall apartment - Mr Chirac rented a highly desirable residence on the Rue du Bac in the smart seventh arrondissement for an unusually low rent. The property, as it happens, is owned by a company which runs council housing for the city of Paris.

Yesterday, the Canard reported that Mr Chirac also owned a flat in the Rue de Seine, in the neighbouring sixth arrondissement, which he let out for a rent that - calculated by the square metre - is more than double what he pays to the friendly property company for the Rue du Bac. The newspaper calculated that, whereas the firm which rents Mr Chirac one of his residences makes a return of just 1.1 per cent on the purchase price, the Mayor is clocking up 8.5 per cent on the flat heowns and lets out.

Nothing illegal is alleged, and Mr Chirac says it is up to his landlords what they charge him. But the revelations are clearly part of an increasingly dirty side to the presidential battle in the run-up to the first round of voting on 23 April.

Mr Chirac has promised not to interfere in media or legal investigations of political scandal ifelected. Other French politicians are less reticent about protecting their peers.

A senate committee has just proposed banning any media reporting of such cases before they come to court. At the same time, the appeals court has upheld a guilty verdictagainst the Canard Enchain. The paper had been convicted of receiving stolen goods. The goods in question were the tax returns of the head of the Citron-Peugeot car firm, Jacques Calvet.

rrr

French traffic wardens can be excused for not showing their usual zeal over the next month. One of the first acts of a new president is traditionally to declare an amnesty on petty legal infractions, including parking fines. So there is no incentive for motorists to worry about where they put their cars up to the second round of the presidential election on 7 May.

After the last presidential poll, in 1988, the police in the typical French city of Limoges found that out of 30,500 outstanding road offences, 12,600 were covered by the amnesty. This year they have received a tide of objections by motorists to fixed penalties for parking and other minor offences - all with one aim in view: to delay a payment date until after the president is elected.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Louis van Gaal
football
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury
music
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own