PRESIDENT Sarkozy is now the most unpopular president for 30 years, scoring a 70 per cent disapproval rating in a poll by Ifop published in Le Journal du Dimanche.
Prime Minister François Fillon is also unpopular: he scored 51 per cent, down three points in two months. The poll found Sports Minister Rama Yade and Finance Minister Christine Lagarde are the most popular ministers.
The results came as parliament decided not to reform one widely unpopular Sarkozy policy, the bouclier fiscal (tax shield), in the 2011 Finance Law. This caps total tax in a given year at 50 per cent of income, a measure mainly benefitting those with large amounts of property.
It protects people who have moderate incomes but live in expensive homes, but also causes widespread indignation when the very rich are seen to have tax handed back, as when it was reported this year that billionaire Liliane Bettencourt had received €30 million.
The MPs have decided to defer considering any change to the shield until June next year, when they may pass a retrospective additional finance law. An amendment to the 2011 Finance Law by Michel Piron MP, seeking the shield’s abolition as well as that of the ISF wealth tax, was rejected.
According to a poll by Le Parisien, 53 per cent of people favour both getting rid of the shield, one of Sarkozy’s first measures on coming to power in 2007, and the ISF. The two are connected: it was mainly to mitigate the effects of the wealth tax (introduced by the Socialists in 1982) that the shield was put in place.
Budget Minister François Barroin has admitted the shield has “become a symbol of injustice”. He added: “If there is to be no more shield, then we will have to have the courage to tackle that other symbolic subject, the ISF.”
Senate Finance spokesman Philippe Marini previously told Connexion he was in favour of ditching both, but that some alternative way of raising tax from the rich would be needed. The shield hands back around €600 million a year, but the ISF makes around €4 billion. He proposed a new upper band of income tax.
Despite the poll in the Le Parisien, which asked a joint question about both the shield and the ISF, axing the wealth tax would be controversial. It is seen as a sign of the state’s solidarity with the less well-off, and its income is theoretically used for benefits.