Ever since the UK voted for Brexit and the US voted in President Trump, there has been a sense that a wave of populism has been taking hold throughout the western democracies. With a series of elections in the major Eurozone countries this year, this is a wave that threatens to sweep through the very fabric of the European political bedrock. The Netherlands may have managed to hold back the racist, anti-immigration, anti-Islamic movement that threatened in the form of Geert Wilders, however the voice of populism remains loud and an existential threat to liberalism throughout Europe.
The French Presidential election is next on the agenda. The first round of voting is held on Sunday 23rd April, with a second final run-off to be held on Sunday 7th May, if there is no initial absolute majority for one candidate. Whilst National Font candidate Marine Le Pen has apparently always had the 2022 Presidential campaign as her primary target, the wave of populism that has arisen with Brexit and Trump has thrust her into prominence for 2017. Could Le Pen pull off a similar victory for the anti-establishment movement in France?
We look at the state of play in the run up to the French Presidential election. We consider the candidates and what they stand for, the current polling statistics (for what they are worth), the chances of a Le Pen victory and the potential impact of the result on financial markets.