Nicholas Sarkozy, the compact little bundle of French presidential energy, was defeated today. His successor is Francois Hollande, a Socialist. The great thing about France is, if you believe in socialism you call yourself a Socialist and other people are allowed to call you Socialist.
Sarkozy was probably doomed, anyway. He was chipping away at the French welfare state -- well, it's probably more accurate to say he was chipping away at chipping away at the French welfare state -- and that's never popular. (And before we shake our heads ruefully at those crazy French we'd better ask ourselves: what happens when we start chipping away at chipping away at ours?)
Meanwhile, though, something new may be happening to the beleaguered French entrepreneurial and investor class. From today's Financial Times:
Wealthy French people are looking to London as a refuge from fresh taxes on high earners pledged by candidates in the country’s presidential elections.
The “soak the rich” rhetoric that has punctuated the presidential campaign has prompted a sharp rise in the numbers weighing a move across the Channel, according to London-based wealth managers, lawyers and property agents specialising in French clients.
And if you switch some of the countries around, is this a preview of coming attractions for American high-earners?
The departure of France’s business people, entrepreneurs and the young for opportunities overseas is not a new phenomenon. When Nicolas Sarkozy visited London in 2007 he called for its French residents to return to a reformed France under his presidency. But the trend has been accelerated by the growing possibility of a Socialist victory in Sunday’s decisive second round of the presidential election.
Mr Blanc says some French clients were even contemplating acquiring British or other nationality in order to safeguard assets from fears that France could move to collect more tax from citizens overseas. “A lot of people are extremely worried,” he said.
Alexandre Terrasse, a partner in corporate and property law at Jeffrey Green Russell, says he had seen a 25 per cent rise in activity from French clients over the past six months, “The 75 per cent tax is clearly a sign that the politicians will hit the wealthy and they don’t want to have to deal with that.”
What happens in a global marketplace when people vote with their feet?