Le Pen could trigger Frexit by accident as election win would be huge shock to economy

France election: Possibility of Le Pen victory discussed by expert

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France will head to the polls tomorrow, on April 24, to choose its president for the next five years. The electoral race has been a close one – much closer than in 2017, by all accounts – though appears to have swung in Emmanuel Macron’s favour following his televised debate with Ms Le Pen earlier this week.

Investors, however, remain “on edge” about the prospect of a victory by the National Rally leader, according to reports.

Michael Hewson, Chief Market Analyst at CMC Markets, said a President Le Pen would shake Europe’s second-biggest economy at a time when economic instability is already a big worry.

He said: “It could be bigger than Brexit. It could be bigger than Trump, if Le Pen prevails.”

Similar warnings of economic disaster prior to Brexit and the election of Mr Trump, however, turned out to be specious.

Grégory Claeys from the Brussels think-tank Bruegel added Mr Macron losing the election could trigger a French exit from the European Union, “by accident”.

Ms Le Pen’s position on the bloc has softened in recent years, following her last presidential election defeat.

She now holds it should become a club of “cooperating sovereign nations”.

Though Mr Macron, in Wednesday’s debate, retorted: “And so then it would no longer be the European Union.”

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Mr Claeys agreed, noting: “Most of [Le Pen’s] policies would not be possible inside the EU.”

This, he contended, could lead to the stage where ‘Frexit’ is an inevitability, even if Ms Le Pen did not stand on that ticket.

While Mr Macron’s lead in pre-election polling extended following the televised debate, his victory is not yet completely sealed.

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Citi strategists suggest apathy towards Mr Macron among more left-wing voters could see his support diminish to below-required levels.

They said: “Uncertainty stems from the risk of low voter turnout, as leftist voters refuse to give their vote to Macron, even at the risk of handing it over to Le Pen.

“Voter turnout is a factor that pollsters find particularly hard to forecast accurately.”

Left-wing voters might be less fearful of the prospect of a President Le Pen after she signalled she would be happy to appoint left-wing politicians in her Government.

Many political analysts believe, however, Mr Macron now has his re-election in the bag.

Mujtaba Rahman, Eurasia Group’s Europe Director, said following Wednesday’s debate: “It’s always hazardous to call an election three days out but this one looks like it’s all over but for the voting ends.”

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