‘France is not the US… and I’m not Clinton!’ says Juppé

The frontrunner to be the next president of France has tried to quash any similarities between Donald Trump’s shock victory and what could happen in next May’s French presidential election.

'France is not the US... and I’m not Clinton!' says Juppé
Photo: AFP

Parallels between France and the US don’t make any sense said Alain Juppé on Wednesday as politicians and commentators have stressed France could be the next country to defy opinion polls.

Juppé is the pollsters’ favourite to win the centre-right primary later this month and would then be the clear frontrunner to become the next president of France, given the unpopularity of current head of state François Hollande.

As a former prime minister of France Juppé has been around the block and is certainly a long-time member of the country’s political elite.

That's unlike far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, the anti-establishment wildcard, who Juppé is expected to go up against in the second round run-off vote.

Polls suggest Juppé will win, fairly handsomely, but as Brexit and Trump’s election showed, political predictions are proving fraught these days.

And politicians and experts say France must confront the possibility of Marine Le Pen “doing a Trump”.

But Juppé, who has a real conviction for corruption, ridiculed the idea he could suffer a shock defeat like Hillary Clinton, who was accused by Trump of being “crooked”.

“Firstly, opinion polls mean nothing. Everyone know that opinion polls are not certain,” he said.

“I’m not Hillary Clinton. And who is Trump in France? Let’s be serious. We can draw conclusions from this election. We must listen to the anger of those who feel completely abandoned, but to draw conclusions in terms of personalities is ridiculous.

Virginie Calmels, Juppe's deputy in Bordeaux and one of his campaign spokesperson told Reuters: “It's not quite the same in France and in the United States.” 

Juppé has said he would work with Trump if elected president.

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France aims for US digital tax deal by late August, despite Trump opposition

France wants to reach a deal with the US on taxing tech giants by a G7 meeting in late August, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said Saturday.

France aims for US digital tax deal by late August, despite Trump opposition
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire. Photo: AFP

He was responding to US President Donald Trump, who on Friday vowed “substantial” retaliation against France for a law passed this month on taxing digital companies even if their headquarters are elsewhere.

The law would affect US-based global giants like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, among others.

Trump denounced French President Emmanuel Macron's “foolishness”, though they discussed the issue by phone on Friday, according to the White House.

Macron confirmed that he had a “long” conversation with Trump, stressing the pair would “continue to work together in view of the G7”.

“We will discuss international taxation, trade and collective security”, he said Saturday.

His office earlier said Macron had told Trump that the tax on the tech giants was not just in France's interest but was something they both had a stake in.

Neither side revealed if they had also discussed Trump's threat to tax French wines in retaliation.

Le Maire took the same line at a news conference Saturday: “We wish to work closely with our American friends on a universal tax on digital activities.

“We hope between now and the end of August — the G7 heads of state meeting in Biarritz — to reach an agreement.”

Leaders of the Group of Seven highly industrialised countries are to meet in the southwestern French city on August 24-26.

Le Maire emphasised that “there is no desire to specifically target American companies,” since the three-percent tax would be levied on revenues generated from services to French consumers by all of the world's largest tech firms, including Chinese and European ones. 

But Deputy White House spokesman Judd Deere noted earlier that France's digital services tax was already the subject of an investigation at the US Trade Representative's office, potentially opening the door to economic sanctions.

“The Trump administration has consistently stated that it will not sit idly by and tolerate discrimination against US-based firms,” Deere said in a statement. 

The French law aims to plug a taxation gap that has seen some internet heavyweights paying next to nothing in European countries where they make huge profits, because their legal base is in smaller EU states.

France has said it would withdraw the tax if an international agreement was reached, and Paris hopes to include all OECD countries by the end of 2020.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is a Paris-based forum that advises the world's advanced economies.

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