Gerard Depardieu’s blustery renunciation of his French citizenship for the purpose of avoiding a tax increase imposed to combat the fiscal crisis has exposed a bitter division in the French populace that includes some of its most famous citizens.

As a symbol of French cinema, Depardieu’s departure has provoked an emotional response both from those who support and oppose his decision. Jerome Fourquet, a pollster for the marketing firm Ifop, said a survey last week showed that the French public “was divided over whether the actor was a victim or a villain,” and “that the reactions were ‘complex,’ ” reported The Guardian.

“A small majority, 54%, think the government’s fiscal policies are too tough and are encouraging people to leave the country, and 40% sympathise with Depardieu. At the same time, 35% told us they were shocked by his leaving, so it’s not clear cut,” he said.

French President Francois Hollande’s recovery plan includes a 75 percent tax on incomes over $1.3 million. View a graphic showing the moves of France’s other “fiscal refugees” here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Guardian:

The prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, described the move as “shabby”, provoking a furious response from Depardieu (“who are you calling shabby?”), and from Philippe Torreton, a leftwing, César-winning actor who lambasted his colleague in the pages of Libération. In the article, published last week, Torreton, 47, wrote: “You no longer want to be French? You are leaving the French boat in the middle of a storm? Did you think we would approve? What did you expect? A medal? An honorary César from the finance ministry?

“The prime minister considers your behaviour shabby, but you, you consider it what? Heroic? Civic? Altruistic? Tell us. We would like to know.”

Singer Michel Sardou, 67, declared himself on the side of the patriots and warned Depardieu that he would be “as bored as a rat” in Belgium. “So there is some divine justice,” he joked, adding: “If I said, ‘Guys, now you’re in the shit. Excuse me but I’m taking my dosh and getting out of here’, I couldn’t look myself in the face.”

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