French candidates boost security ahead of tense vote

Apr 21, 2017, 23:25

The race for the presidency features Francois Fillon, Emmanuel Macron, Benoit Hamon, Jean-Luc Melenchon, and Marine Le Pen.

France has a president who is the head of state.

As of Tuesday, Mr Macron was running at 23 per cent and Ms Le Pen at 22.3 per cent, according to the Bloomberg composite of French polling.

However, the data came out exactly in line with market expectations, leading to little volatility for the Euro exchange rate complex.

Candidates in the French presidential election have their final chance Thursday to speak to the nation in a series of televised interviews, in which scandal-hit conservative Francois Fillon has perhaps the most to prove.

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His manifesto also calls for withdrawal from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation military alliance and the International Monetary Fund, vetoing of international free-trade accords, ending the European Central Bank's independence and taking control of Bank of France.

The big surprise here would be Le Pen's failure to make it to the run-off, confounding years of opinion polls.

Until now, Le Pen has struggled to get her opponents in the presidential race to debate her party's trademark tough security and immigration stance.

"Today's annualized CPI reading shows that inflation across the Eurozone remains steady, if not sluggish, providing the European Central Bank with further justification for delaying policy tightening", says Paul Sirani, Chief Market Analyst at Xtrade. A security source within the FN noted the Union of Islamic Organisations of France (UOIF) had singled out Le Pen as the "candidate to beat".

Another poll, conducted by BVA, showed Macron taking 24% of the vote in the first round, one point more than Le Pen, with Fillon and Melenchon tied on 19%.

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The nightmare scenario for global financial markets is a second-round duel between the equally sharp-tongued Le Pen and Melenchon. Many obstacles lie in their path, and even if elected they would have difficulty in securing a parliamentary majority to push through their programmes.

Emmanuel Macron, centrist candidate and one of the frontrunners, reacted in the same manner, saying that he will continue "to contact, to move" in spite of the threat. They attach around a 5 percent probability of his winning, compared with around 15 percent for Le Pen.

The euro extended its gains against the dollar, rising as much as 0.62% to 1.0776 on Thursday morning, the highest level since 29 March when it reached 1.084, on concerns about U.S. president Donald Trump's ability to push through his economic policies and with the looming French election. "Marine Le Pen has been very smart by preaching that homosexuals are a target for Muslims". President Fillon would also enjoy more parliamentary support than President Macron.

"The politics of separation is the greatest risk for the euro", said Lena Komileva, managing director at G+ Economics. "Conversely, if the turnout is high, then the anti-establishment extremes are likely to do well", economists at Citigroup said in a note.

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