Figures from Sunday, April 23 first round of voting narrowed the competing candidates to be the next French president to just two: Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. This means that France’s next president will be a former banker or a far-right populist.
Though the result sparks euro relief rally as EUR/USD surge and polls favor Macron to win in the second and final round come May 7, the next 14 days is still fraught with uncertainty that may unsettle the stock market but see Bitcoin emerge a hedge against financial loss as seen in the Brexit case.
Sunday’s final results put Mr. Macron, an independent centrist, top on 23.75 percent, with Ms. Le Pen, the far-right Front National leader, just behind on 21.53 percent. Macron has never before run for office but Le Pen has been around for awhile and she is the one who wants Frexit - France’s version of Britain’s exit from the European Union.
The French election is crucial to the entire EU economy. Hence, the uncertainty of what would come in two weeks is going to tell on the market. This is because what is normally a domestic affair is becoming a litmus test for the future of the EU going by the appeal of far-right populism.
It is also the first time in modern history that the center-left and center-right parties who have traditionally traded the presidency between them will not feature in the runoff.
What to expect
Though new opinion polls on Sunday saw Macron, 39, easily winning the final clash against the 48-year-old Le Pen, a win for Le Pen means an anti-immigrant and pro-Russia populist will take power. This could be bad news for the EU.
A Harris survey says Macron is going to win the runoff against her by 64 percent to 36; an Ipsos/Sopra Steria poll gave a similar result and most of the defeated contenders have also called on their supporters to vote for Mr. Macron.
However, the narrow lead from Sunday’s polls could still not rule out completely the possibility of Ms. Le Pen, who intends to leave the euro and hold an in-out referendum on EU membership within six months, taking power.
Her estimated seven mln votes is the best-ever score for a far-Right party in France. She has the backing of the Brexit champion, Nigel Farage, who has described Macron’s victory speech as “vacuous nonsense.”
It’s also clear that Le Pen will be keen to avoid a repetition of 2002 when her father and National Front founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, got through to the second round in a surprise vote but went on to lose to right-wing president Jacques Chirac.
"It's more complicated than it looks - a new campaign is starting," Francois Miquet-Marty of pollster Viavoice told Reuters. "Marine Le Pen is going to frame this as a face-off between Emmanuel Macron, the candidate of the globalized elite, and herself as the people's candidate. She has a line of attack that can hit the bullseye."