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


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?


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.


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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
Life and Style
food + drink
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial IT Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Commercial IT Solicitor - London We h...

Business Analyst / Project Manager - Financial Services

£40000 - £45000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: One of the mos...

Lead Business Analyst - Banking - London - £585

£525 - £585 per day: Orgtel: Lead Business Analyst - Investment Banking - Lond...

Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
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