After the presidential election, the French are now voting for their members of parliament (MP) on the 3rd and 17th of June. For the first time, I am able to vote through Internet –I have my password. If I manage to make it work, that is. As my computer has the latest Java updates, I can’t use it to vote. I have to try to use my old work laptop –I haven’t used it for more than 4 years. How lovely! It says it all, doesn’t it: I need to use my old laptop to vote in my old country…On the bright side, this means that I won’t need to spend hours in a queue, waiting for my turn to vote, in the derelict French Lycee in South Kensington. I know that I should be excited, but, if I am honest, I am not.
Where to start? In France, there was a nasty debate on dual nationality, initiated by the extreme right (Front National). I don’t know why. Dual citizenship wasn’t a big deal before. But now, to cut a long story short, France doesn’t like you any more when you decide to live abroad. You should be made to choose where you belong, and pay more taxes if you decide to remain French! How patronising…Nothing has been decided yet but a peg in the ground was put in people’s mind: the French who dare to live abroad have betrayed their country. Exit taxes have been mentioned, as well as a double taxation system on properties. Obviously we French living outside of France are not very high on the priority list of our Government. Most of the time, we are described as baddies who are desperately trying to avoid paying taxes in our home country. Tax dodgers seeking a tax heaven. It might be the case for some of us, but for the rest, we are just trying to make a living somewhere. Just like anybody else.
Stigmatising a community of people is never the answer. It is a cheap, populist way of addressing people’s fear and making someone else responsible for your own mess. And, frankly, that’s exactly how I feel about France. Instead of addressing the Euro crisis and reducing the deficit, more teachers will be hired. Instead of encouraging entrepreneurship and cutting down the bureaucracy, new taxes are being discussed all the time, in a country where taxes are already amongst the highest in the world (we are not talking about the tax rate of up to 35% for Americans living abroad. It would be more up to 75%…). Don’t get me wrong: I am all in favour of redistributing wealth. And France has done it very well indeed: free education, cheap universities (up to €500 per year), cheap hospitals (c€18 per day), almost free healthcare (seeing your GP will set you back by €23 but you get reimbursed €21…). When I moved to London, I discovered that the things I took for granted had a price –and a dear one sometimes. I just think that it is time to address the real issues. We French should be grateful for what we have, stop wanting more, and try to make savings.
Simply put, France’s narrow mindness is getting on my nerves. It is too easy to blame everybody else for a deficit that is not under control, and to continue to increase the taxes. Apparently, people earning more than €1m will be taxed at a rate of 75%. It doesn’t concern me of course, but don’t you think that people will not want to be successful if they know that they can’t be too successful? So here it is, and please don’t judge me too harshly for it: once I become British, should I ditch my French citizenship? Would it make me any less yummy? Or am I just in a bad mood?
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London