France mulls wealth tax changes as protests intensify

05. 12. 2018

Macron’s image as ‘president of rich’ grows as gilets jaunes movement widens in scope.

Emmanuel Macron inspects the protest aftermath in Paris on 2 December. The movement has grown to encompass wider anger against his government. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Emmanuel Macron inspects the protest aftermath in Paris on 2 December. The movement has grown to encompass wider anger against his government. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The French government could change its position regarding a controversial wealth tax, a government spokesman has said, as protests mount over the president's policies.

The government has changed aspects of the wealth tax - known in France as the ISF - by narrowing it down to lucrative property deals and real estate assets.

However, that move had fuelled criticism that Emmanuel Macron was a "president of the rich", since it would have eased the tax burden for many of the country's wealthiest citizens.

On Wednesday, the government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told RTL radio the government could reconsider those proposals if it felt the move was not working.

"If a measure that we have taken, which is costing the public money, turns out not to be working, if it's not going well, we're not stupid - we would change it," he said. 

On Tuesday, the French prime minister, Edouard Philippe, decided to suspend planned increases to fuel taxes for at least six months in response to weeks of sometimes violent protests by the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement, marking the first major U-turn by Macron's administration in 18 months in office.

The protesters vowed to continue their high-profile campaign regardless, declaring they wanted more concessions from France's leaders and would not accept "crumbs".

Although the protests were sparked by the planned rise in fuel taxes next month, the movement has grown to encompass wider anger and frustration against the political elite in Paris in general and Macron and his government in particular.

Source: The Guardian