Opinion

Saturday 20 January 2018

Marine has taken Europe a step closer to revolution

Lack of alternatives is driving French voters to the political extremes, including Le Pen

Front National’s presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in Lyon, France, last week Picture: PA
Front National’s presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in Lyon, France, last week Picture: PA

Jeremy Warner

What if Marine Le Pen wins the French presidential election, or just starts to look as though she might?

Admittedly, such a turn of events still looks somewhat unlikely, despite the "road crash" suffered by Francois Fillon, the established centre-Right candidate, and, until very recently, overwhelming favourite. Yet that hasn't stopped financial markets beginning to price in another major political upset. Traders were wrong-footed by Brexit and Donald Trump. They are determined not to be surprised again.

In growing numbers, political analysts are buying into what Jan-Werner Muller, professor of politics at Princeton University and author of What is Populism?, has called "domino theory", the idea that the anti-establishment mood in Western economies is reaching such unstoppable momentum that it might sweep even the likes of Le Pen to power. So-called "risk premia" on French assets are rising accordingly.

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