Thursday, December 19, 2013

About that tax overhaul ...

Remember when PM Jean-Marc Ayrault announced, to everyone's surprise, that there would be a total overhaul of the French tax system? It wasn't that long ago, but it seems the initiative is already dead in the water. Or so this article in Libé would have you believe. Of course, what we are actually reading in this article is an artillery salvo against Ayrault by some of his "internal enemies." Whether he has actually lost the "war against Bercy" is anybody's guess, even if, as Libé points out, Ramon Fernandez, whom Ayrault had apparently decided to sack, is still there at the minister's side.

Watching French politics lately has become an exercise in Kremlinology. Hollande promised to be the "normal" president, but in fact he has become "the sphinx president," since his philosophy of governance appears to be to conceal his strategy from everyone, perhaps even from himself. This version of "normality" might have seemed like a good idea when Sarkozy was president, daily announcing a new battle plan only to replace it with another grand design a few days later. To be sure, there are fewer forced marches and countermarches under General Hollande. Instead, all the troops seem to be running off in different directions. It's "Sauve qui peut!" in an administration that appears to be going nowhere fast, if not actually sinking. Meanwhile, all the second bananas are dreaming of being "the One" who will be tapped to replace Hollande when he bows out of the 2017 presidential contest. And the always dependable media are already handicapping the race. Thus Libé, with this volley in favor of Moscovici and contra Ayrault. Meanwhile, Valls is in the news a bit less than a few weeks ago. Montebourg has entered a quiescent period. Benoît Hamon has become all but invisible. And there are even some outlets speculating that Moscovici has settled in with his 26-year-old girlfriend as a maneuver to steal the virility thunder from Sarkozy (forgetting that the marriage to Carla did not in fact push him over the top in the presidential sweepstakes).

Such is French politics these days, folks. Is it any wonder I'm blogging less?