Many of the wealthy in France are considering leaving the country in the event that far left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon wins the presidency in May due to his massive tax raising policies according to reports.
Two months ago, far left Jean-Luc Mélenchon was not considered by many to be a serious contender for the French presidency. However, after strong performances in televised debates, his popularity has risen significantly, One of his policies, which could see wealthy people taxed up to 90 per cent, is making some in France consider moving if he wins, Bloomberg reports.
“People are saying they’ll leave if Mélenchon wins, and I’m sure that sooner or later I’ll have to look for a way out too,” said 45-year-old restaurant owner Philippe Marques whose business caters to many elites in Paris. “There’s no economy possible with a President Mélenchon. His plans for taxes, for limits on wages – it’ll be a bigger blow for the economy than the terrorist attacks were.”
“There’s no chance that many people will be able to maintain a decent standard of living,” Marques said, adding: “The world of French luxury will disappear. Some of my clients are talking about making for Switzerland.”
A potential self-imposed exile of the wealthy has happened before in France. In the early 1980s, several prominent French elites including multinational luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE’s billionaire Chief Executive Officer Bernard Arnault left for the U.S., and others for Switzerland, after the election of Socialist president François Mitterand.
More recently, after the election of current president François Hollande, the famous French actor Gérard Depardieu moved to Russia over Hollande’s proposed 75 per cent tax.
The tax policies of Mélenchon would see a 90 per cent tax on anyone making over €400,000 (£335,000) a year; Mélenchon believes that anyone making at least €4,000 per month is “rich”.
Mélenchon’s chief of staff, also his son-in-law, has even commented that “there should be a cap on the accumulation of wealth in this country”.
To some, the rise of the far left candidate is a blow to the establishment. Socialist voter Marie Monteiro said: “The fear of a market collapse, of a run, these are all electoral tactics to frighten voters. Mélenchon’s election would end injustices inflicted on the majority of the people. The Brexit vote, the rise of Mélenchon or Le Pen should send a signal to those who have left the people without hope – to the elite.”
A potential victory for Mélenchon and Le Pen could be similar to the first round of the Austrian presidential election last year that saw the far left candidate Alexander Van der Bellen and populist Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer progress to the second round.
Polls have shown both Mélenchon and Republican candidate François Fillon gaining on favourites Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron fueling uncertainty and speculation of which candidates will make it past the first round.
Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at email@example.com