By Global Public Square staff
It's not every day you see Russia's Vladimir Putin receiving a bear hug from a Frenchman, but the actor, Gerard Depardieu is no ordinary Frenchman. In fact, he may not even remain French for very long in some sense.
You see, Depardieu has been threatening to give up his French passport, especially now that Putin has handed him a brand new Russian one. But why on Earth would he or anyone, for that matter, want to leave France? Think of the food, the wine, Paris, the countryside. Well, for Depardieu, it comes down to taxes.
Under President Francois Hollande, France has been weighing a proposal for a 70 percent marginal tax rate on millionaires. Russia, on the other hand, offers a flat, 13 percent tax.
For more Last Look, watch GPS, Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Did Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush break the law in Paris? Maybe, along with many others, because for more than 200 years it has actually technically been illegal for a woman to wear trousers in Paris unless official permission was granted.
It seems that during the French Revolution the lady revolutionaries took to wearing pants and the powers that be at the time wanted to put a swift end to that. So they made it illegal in 1800. Amendments came over the years allowing women to dare to wear trousers for riding bikes or horses. But the law remained on the books until last week, when it was repealed by the minister for women's rights.
By Stephanie Pezard and Michael Shurkin, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Stephanie Pezard and Michael Shurkin are political scientists at the RAND Corporation. The views expressed are the authors’ own.
France’s unilateral ground and air offensive in Mali came not a moment too soon. The Islamists who had seized control of the north launched a brazen offensive last week into central Mali that demonstrated their own considerable capabilities and audacity as well as the Malian army’s continuing fecklessness. France had to act. Unless it creates a coalition of local allies, however, its intervention will probably, ultimately, add to Mali’s chaos.
The French intervention achieves little more than pull Mali back from the brink for the time being. To achieve anything beyond protecting southern Mali from future incursions requires pushing north and deploying a much larger force –some combination of French, Malian, and ECOWAS troops. This would need to happen much faster than any of the timetables for an ECOWAS deployment that had been discussed at the United Nations. Some ECOWAS contingents are already there.
This is the latest in a series of entries looking at what we can expect in 2013. Each weekday, a guest analyst will look at the key challenges facing a selected country – and what next year might hold in store.
By James Shields, Special to CNN
James Shields is professor of French politics and modern history at Aston University in the U.K.He is the first winner of the American Political Science Association’s Stanley Hoffmann Award for his writing on French politics. The views expressed are his own.
While it could hardly be more eventful than 2012, with the toppling of a president and an emphatic swing of legislative power from right to left, 2013 could prove to be more decisive for France. As the electoral promises of the past year recede, they are replaced now by an urgent need to deliver.
The three biggest questions hanging over France in 2013 are a potentially hazardous mix of the political and the economic. How will President François Hollande and his Socialists square their election pledges with the hard choices of governing in economic crisis? How will the center-right UMP recover from its bitterly divisive contest to replace Nicolas Sarkozy as leader and face down mounting pressure from a resurgent far-right Front National? And, as a second credit rating agency downgrades France, can the world’s fifth-largest, and the Eurozone’s second-largest, economy bring its public finances into balance for the first time in almost four decades?
By Bruce Stokes, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Bruce Stokes is the director of Global Economic Attitudes at the Pew Research Center. Full survey results are available here. The views expressed are his own.
At the Republican National Convention scheduled to take place this week and the Democratic National Convention beginning September 3, Americans will notionally be choosing their candidates for president of the United States. Effectively they will be deciding who will be the leader of the world for the next four years.
The world’s citizens get no say in this choice. Nevertheless, people outside the United States have definite opinions about Obama and some of the key issues in the campaign: about the state of the economy and what to do about it, climate change and how they think Washington should treat them.
By James Shields, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: James Shields is Professor of French Politics and Modern History at Aston University in England.He is the first winner of the American Political Science Association’s Stanley Hoffmann Award for his writing on French politics. The views expressed here are his own.
There’s a distinct feel of déjà vu about the rioting that erupted last week in the northern French cathedral city of Amiens. Not that urban riots are a particularly French phenomenon, of course; but the disturbances in Amiens do ring loud bells of recognition in France. In the worst scenes of civil unrest for some time, youths from deprived estates fought with riot police, cars and public buildings were set ablaze, firearms were discharged against the police and tear gas against the rioters, and 16 police officers were reported among the casualties. The estimated bill for damage: between 4 and 6 million euros (as much as $7 million) according to the city hall.
Located in the department of the Somme in the northern Picardy region of France, Amiens is a classic mid-sized city (population 140,000) struggling to adjust to post-industrial decline and the challenges of globalization. Many of the manufacturing plants that once drove the economy of the region have long rusted over, and a national unemployment rate of 10 percent finds subnational spikes of over 40 percent in estates such as those involved in these disturbances. Some northern suburbs of Amiens were recently classified among the 15 most troubled neighborhoods in France, so-called “priority security zones” where the new Socialist government has determined to clamp down on endemic crime and delinquency with greater police resources.
By Comfort Ero, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Comfort Ero is Africa Program Director at the International Crisis Group. The views expressed are the author’s own.
Over the last 20 years, Mali has mostly been a model of stability in a fragile region. Now it’s falling apart. Rebels control the north of the country and are depriving local people of their freedom. They’ve destroyed religious monuments, and many fear the region could become a new haven for terrorists, some of whom have abducted Western hostages in recent years. Mali’s neighbors and some in the international community, including France, are leaning toward the use of force as the right solution. But an immediate military intervention would be shortsighted, almost certainly drive the wedge even deeper between the northern and southern communities and further destabilize West Africa and the Sahel.
Events have moved quickly in Mali. In just a few months, rebels bolstered by the crisis in Libya have pushed out the army and stand as a powerful force in the north. The president was deposed in a military coup. His successor was beaten and flown to France for medical treatment. The reasons for the collapse have been weak political and security institutions, despite electoral democracy, and historical grievances in the north, coupled with powerful external factors like regional insecurity generated by the conflict in Libya.
In his plans for helping France's economy turn around, new President Francois Hollande has pledged to increase the rate of income tax to 75% for those residents making more than 1 million euros a year.
The plan is back in the spotlight in Hollande's recent visit with UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Cameron has said the tax hike would drive businesses to Britian - which he joked he'd welcome with open arms - but the French leader denied such an effect.
How does a 75% top rate of tax compare with other leading economies? FULL POST
Can a president who's elected on a promise to be normal deal with Europe in the throes of a crisis of abnormality?
With France's Francois Hollande taking office, an all-star panel debates "Mr. Normal" and how the politics will reverberate across Europe in this excerpt from the past week's "Fareed Zakaria GPS." Watch the video above.
And is Germany taking too much of the anger? Here's what Josef Joffe, Die Zeit editor, had to say:
ZAKARIA: Josef Joffe, you know that much of the rhetoric and the anger is directed at Germany. The idea is the Germans are forcing all this austerity on Europe, European governments having forced to cut their budgets. It's causing misery, unemployment. It's even causing bigger budget deficits.
But you've sort of defended the German position, isn't it fair to say?
JOSEF JOFFE, EDITOR, DIE ZEIT: Well, I mean, Angela Merkel makes for a nice whipping boy for problems which are deeply rooted in the societies that we've just heard about [France, Greece, Spain]. ... FULL POST
"[Hollande] is part of France's political establishment, in a sense, rather more than Sarkozy was. ... He's a pragmatist."
Fareed Zakaria talks with British Labour Party politician Peter Mandelson about France's new leader, Francois Hollande. Watch more of Mandelson's take in this web exclusive from this week's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" show.
The U.S. economy is currently on autopilot: A sharply polarized Congress and a tapped out Federal Reserve can't do much more to stimulate it this year.
But the economy may still hit turbulence after voters in France and Greece delivered a resounding anti-austerity message over the weekend to their governments.
That message, say analysts, is likely to have implications for the United States that extend from its fragile economy to its planned withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Hollande swept to victory Sunday, becoming France's first-left wing president since Francois Mitterand left office in 1995.
That was followed by news that voters in Greece dealt major blows to the country's two most established parties in parliamentary elections, leaving no party with anything approaching a majority.
The message from voters in both countries appeared to be the same: The current policy of deficit-cutting, reduced spending and cuts to benefits and public services is unacceptable.
The election results leave in question what happens now to the eurozone and its debt crisis. France is a key player in plans to navigate it. And Greece is a recipient of bailout by the European Central Bank that requires the government to slash spending.