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Elections across the EU

A string of high-profile elections across the EU could lead to further market volatility. Find out more about the upcoming votes and how they could impact the markets, and open an account to start trading.

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Why might this affect traders?

With the European Union still reeling from Brexit, elections in France and Holland - where Eurosceptic parties were widely tipped to claim victory - had the potential to further destabilise what appeared an increasingly fragile union. However, with populist movements failing to triumph in either country, the future of the EU looks far more secure once again.

Still, with elections in Germany, and potentially Italy, in the pipeline for later this year, EU leaders won’t be resting on their laurels just yet — especially given the unpredictable political climate we’ve seen over the last 12 months. The UK's snap election has only added to the uncertainty. Prime minister Theresa May sought to increase her mandate ahead of some tense Brexit negociations, but with the gamble spectacularly backfiring - the Conservatives lost their overall House majortiry - Britain's exit from the union remain shrouded in doubt.
Traders will be watching developments closely, with any sign of further distress likely to reverberate throughout European markets.

Key markets to watch

Markets Bid Offer Updated Change
France 40
Germany 30
Netherlands 25
EU Stocks 50
Italy 40

Prices above are subject to our website terms and conditions. Prices are indicative only.

Dutch elections

15 March: Dutch general election

Incumbent prime minister: Mark Rutte

Key candidates:

Party Leader
Freedom party (PVV) Geert Wilders
People's party (VVD) Mark Rutte
Labour party (PvdA) Lodewijk Asscher
Socialist party (SP) Emile Roemer


EU leaders will have breathed a sigh of relief after Mark Rutte claimed victory in the Dutch general election on 15 March, beating rightwing firebrand Geert Wilders into second place.

Wilders had been widely tipped to secure victory for the Freedom party, with his populist anti-Islam and anti-EU rhetoric scoring strongly in the polls. However, the incumbent PM Rutte and his pro-EU People's party have won a projected 31 seats compared to Wilders' 19.

Rutte failed to achieve an outright majority, but with the largest share of votes he'll have the first chance to form a new coalition government. Negotiations could be set to rumble on for months, with Rutte likely to call on three other parties to secure the 76 seats needed in the 150-seat parliament.

Despite polling the second-most votes, Wilders is almost certain to have no say in the final reckoning – every major party has refused to work in coalition with the maverick Eurosceptic. His defeat is a timely boost for a beleaguered EU, and offers hope that other populist movements will struggle in elections across the Union later this year. The euro hit a five-week high on the morning of the result, touching $1.0746 against the US dollar.

British elections

8 June: UK general election

Key candidates:

Party Leader
Conservatives Theresa May
Labour Jeremy Corbyn
Liberal Democrates Tim Farron
UKIP Paul Nuttall

Theresa May’s gamble on a snap election backfired, resulting in a hung parliament.

It’s an outcome bound to reshape Brexit negotiations going forward. Get to grips with what it might mean for the markets. 

French elections

23 April: French presidential election (rd.1)
7 May: French presidential election (rd.2)
11 and 18 June: French legislative elections

Incumbent president: Francois Hollande
New president: Emmanuel Macron

Key candidates:

Party Leader First round results Final results
Forward! (EM) Emmanuel Macron 23.75% 66%
National Front (FN) Marine Le Pen 21.53% 34%
Republicans (LR) François Fillon 19.91% N/A
Untamed France (FI) Jean-Luc Mélenchon 19.64% N/A

The French presidential election was beset by twists, turns and scandals, making it one of the most unpredictable and intriguing campaigns ever fought. Ahead of the first round of voting on 23 April, all four leading candidates harboured realistic ambitions of claiming victory.

However, the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right Eurosceptic Marine Le Pen took home 23.75% and 21.53% of the vote respectively, meaning they went head to head in a final round on 7 May as France made one of its most important decisions in a generation.

If Le Pen was elected she’d promised to take France out of the euro and hold a referendum on French membership of the EU. Her victory, in a founding EU nation, could have realistically led to the disintegration of the union as we know it. 

However, it was the pro-European Macron who went into the run off as the overwhelming favourite to be elected president — and in the end he scored a decisive victory, taking home 66% of the final vote compared to Le Pen’s 34%. EU leaders will rest a little easier knowing that France has stemmed the flow of populism for now, although Le Pen’s score marked a historic high for the French far right. 

The markets have so far responded well to Macron’s successes. There was a major rally after the first round of voting, and following his overall victory the CAC 40 hit its highest level since 2008, before dropping back. The euro also charged to a six-month high before dipping, suggesting Macron’s expected victory was already largely priced in. 

German elections

24 September: German federal election

Incumbent chancellor: Angela Merkel

Key candidates:

Party Leader
Christian Democratic Union/
Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU)
Angela Merkel
Social Democratic party (SPD) Martin Schulz
Left party Katja Kipping
Alternative for Germany (AfD) Frauke Petry

Germany elected Frank-Walter Steinmeier as its new president on 12 February, but of far greater significance is the federal election in autumn. This is when voters will elect members to the Bundestag (lower parliament).

Current chancellor Angela Merkel is widely expected to clinch a fourth term in office at the head of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), with their Bavarian ally the Christian Social Union (CSU) also likely to claim a large share of seats. A Merkel victory could prove seminal in the future of the European Union – the pro-EU chancellor is seen as the last pillar of stability for liberal democracy in Europe.

Despite Merkel being tipped to win, the seeds of change are beginning to strike at the German political system. Merkel’s ‘open door’ refugee policy has alienated many and exposed her to unprecedented levels of criticism. The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party blamed Merkel for the terrorist attack on a Berlin Christmas market, and populist support for the party is currently soaring.

This points to a wider weakening of the traditionally dominant CDU/CSU parties and coalition partner, the Social Democrats. Merkel’s share of votes this year is unlikely to be as high as it was in 2013, leaving Germany with a potentially fragmented parliament.

This could provide encouragement for other populist movements and Eurosceptic parties looking to gain traction, and any sign of Merkel’s grip on power weakening may provoke a market backlash.

Italian election

September: Potential Italian general election

The eurozone’s third-largest economy is also gripped by political instability – former prime minister Matteo Renzi resigned late in 2016 after losing a constitutional referendum.

Renzi’s foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, holds the reigns for now. But President Sergio Mattarella is being pressurised by the Democratic Party – of which Renzi remains at the helm – and the populist Five Star Movement to call for early elections in 2017 (they’re currently set for 2018).

The prospect of early elections only increased after Italy’s constitutional court struck down parts of Renzi’s 2015 electoral law, effectively devising a new voting system for the country. An election could now take place as soon as September, and with a referendum on leaving the euro promised by the Five Star Movement if they win, EU leaders will be keeping a close eye on developments.

Other elections to look out for

It’s not just the EU’s big guns that are going to the polls in 2017. The Czech Republic’s legislative election is set for October, while presidential elections in Hungary and Slovenia take place later in the year. 

While it’s unlikely we’ll see parties with anti-EU ideologies claim victories here, any sign of increased support for Eurosceptics will only add to the union’s woes.

All key dates

Date Event
12 February German presidential election
15 March Dutch general election
23 April French presidential election (rd.1)
7 May French presidential election (rd.2)
8 June UK general election
11 and 18 June French legislative elections
September Potential Italian general election
24 September German federal election

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Take a position on the impact of key elections, with EUR/USD from just 0.6 points and 24-hour dealing on the France 40 and Germany 30.

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