17 April 2017

French General Election

A week before France's high-stakes presidential election, the four top candidates began a final push to woo undecided voters who will determine the outcome of the tight race between the hard left, centre, right and far right.

On April 23rd, the French go to the polls in the most unpredictable vote in the country's post-war history to choose two candidates from a field of 11 who will go through to a run-off two weeks later.

Opinion polls show one in three voters still undecided about who to back after a campaign characterised by scandals and upsets. In an interview in Le Parisien newspaper on Sunday, 65-year-old Melenchon, who is threatening to quit the euro and massively increase public spending, vowed he would be a safe pair of hands on the eurozone's second-largest economy.

Le Pen, whom polls show leading the first round with centrist Emmanuel Macron on around 22-24 percent each, returned to her party's core themes of immigration and Islam Saturday to try to mobilise her base.

The opinion polls had shown her virtually assured of a place in the May 7th runoff but Melenchon and the conservative Francois Fillon have narrowed the gap with her and Macron to about three points, blowing the race wide open.

The presence among the top four of two anti-globalisation candidates who have threatened to take France out of the euro - Le Pen and Melenchon - has caused jitters among investors.