French President Francois Hollande (pictured) was described as an "amateur" and compared to the emperor with no clothes as members of his party began to turn on him after his flagship 75pc tax rate for France's richest was ruled unconstitutional.
France's Constitutional Council said the tax on earnings of at least €1m per year "failed to recognise equality before public burdens", because, unlike other income taxes, it applied to individuals and not households.
The tax rate, due to take effect tomorrow, angered French business leaders and prompted some of the country's wealthiest citizens to announce their intentions to leave the country.
Gerard Depardieu became the public face of the flight after a row with Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who called him "pathetic" for wanting to move.
Depardieu said the court decision would not make him change his mind about moving to Belgium. "It doesn't change anything," he said.
In response to the setback, members of Mr Hollande's Socialist Party expressed doubts about the administration.
"The Constitutional Council's decision is catastrophic for our image. Are we competent?", asked the Socialist MP Jean-Michel Clement.
The ruling drew a vitriolic response from conservative opponents and the media.
"The king is naked," said the 'Journal du Dimanche', in an editorial referring to the Emperor's New Clothes fairytale by Hans Christian Anderson.
Jean Arthuis, president of the Centrist Alliance and a former economic minister, said the council's ruling "punishes the dogmatic blindness of the government, and in a certain way, its amateurism".
The government tried to save face by arguing that the ruling focused on technical problems with the tax's application, and that a new, adapted measure similar to the original would be introduced later next year.
The decision was welcomed by the French Football League, which had expressed concern at the impact on top footballers such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Paris Saint Germain.
Frederic Thiriez, the football league's chairman, said that there could have been an "exodus of the best players" in the league because of the tax. (© Daily Telegraph, London)