Tuesday

22nd Jan 2019

Socialist millionaires bare all in French 'striptease'

  • Elysee palace: the French government conducts business amid imperial-era grandeur (Photo: vincent.m)

French President Francois Hollande and eight of his 37 ministers are millionaires, according to the national "striptease" of politicians' assets published on Monday (15 April).

Hollande himself declared already last year that his estate is worth around €1.2 million, most of it deriving from a house in the Alps and apartments in Cannes.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

But Monday's revelations show that foreign minister Laurent Fabius is worth €6 million (including a €2.8mn flat in Paris and €1.2mn shares in the Piasa auction house), while Michele Delauney, in charge of helping the elderly, is worth €5.2 million (most of it inherited properties, but also more than €1mn in cash in 23 separate bank accounts).

The other millionaires are: employent minister Michel Sapin (€2mn); Prime Minister Jean-marc Ayrault (€1.4mn); junior education minister George Pau-Langevin (€1.2 mn, with over €200,000 in cash), sports minister Valerie Fourneyron (€1.1mn); French overseas departments minister Victorin Lurel (€1.1mn); and health minister Marisol Touraine (€1.1mn).

The €1 million figure acquired special status in France under Hollande because he came to office promising to tax people who earn more than €1 million a year at a sky-high rate of 75 percent.

The "rich tax" later fell by the wayside.

Monday's figures also show that the average wealth of Hollande's Socialist crew is €914,000 each - compared to the French average of €230,000, putting them in the top 10 percentile of French society.

At the other end of the scale, the poorest ministers, six mostly younger men and women with junior portfolios, had less than €200,000 per head.

With the whole revelation prompted by a scandal involving a secret bank account by Hollande's former budget minister, the figures note that the new budget minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, has €587,000, while the finance minister, Pierre Moscovici has a relatively modest €267,000.

Some of the declarations unearthed quirky details.

Employment minister Michel Sapin declared a small fishing boat. Industrial renewal minister Arnaud Montebourg declared a designer armchair worth €4,500, while housing minister Cecile Duflot said she has €12,000 in jewellery.

But the level of detail varied from minister to minister, prompting French daily Le Monde to promise that it will scrutinise the declarations in the coming days.

Justice minister Christiane Taubira went so far as to declare a 17-year-old bicycle worth €200. But interior minister Manuel Valls said he has less than €2,000 in the bank.

The transparency exercise is normal in many European countries, but represents a big change in France, where media tends to allow public figures more privacy.

The Le Figaro daily dubbed it "the striptease" of the French republic.

Opposition politicians called it "voyeurism."

For his part, Jean-Luc Melenchon, a senator who heads France's opposition Left Party, made fun of Hollande's project by declaring in his blog: "I'm 1.74 metres tall. I weigh 79kg. My shirt size is 41/42. My trouser size is 42, and I take a size 42 shoe. All my hair is my own and is not dyed."

But there is nothing funny for Hollande (approval rating 26%) about the potential political cost of the move.

Foreign minister Fabius felt no need to apologise for his wealth.

But Delauney (housing minister, €5.2mn) told Le Figaro: "I see the risk of misunderstanding in a time when many French people are in [financial] trouble."

Stephane Le Foll (agriculture minister, €481,000 plus a €300 bicycle) said it is "entirely consistent" to be "rich and on the left [politically]," adding that "history is full" of such people.

Hollande himself noted: "Voting on the left corresponds to the idea of ​​advancing society and sharing … I do not see why those who are rich cannot have these values."

France in turmoil over tax-dodging minister

The scandal over France's tax-evading budget minister is threatening to engulf Hollande's government, which had promised an "irreproachable republic."

French leader promises anti-tax-cheat crusade

French leader Hollande has promised to "eradicate" tax havens in the EU and in the wider world, after his approval rating fell to 26 percent following a tax scandal.

EU bleeding untold billions to fraud

Over €6bn of EU taxpayers' money was stolen by criminals in recent years and over €130m is still being lost each year, EU auditors said.

News in Brief

  1. May U-turn on fee for EU nationals in UK
  2. French data watchdog gives Google €50m fine
  3. EU hits Russians with sanctions over Salisbury attack
  4. 'Don't look for answers to Brussels', EU tells UK
  5. Germany warns UK not to 'misuse' EU patience on Brexit
  6. Germany sent 8,658 asylum-seekers to other EU states
  7. Poll: Macron popularity up four percent
  8. 'Economy is broken' says Oxfam in global inequality report

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us