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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 negotiations, but with the gamble spectacularly backfiring – the Conservatives lost their overall House majority – Britain’s exit from the union remains 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
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Germany 30
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Holland 25
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EU Stocks 50
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Italy 40
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Prices above are subject to our website terms and conditions. Prices are indicative only.

Dutch election

15 March: Dutch general election

Incumbent prime minister: Mark Rutte

Results

Party Leader Seats
People's party (VVD) Mark Rutte 33
Freedom party (PVV) Geert Wilders 20
Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) Sybrand Buma 19
Democrats 66 (D66) Alexander Pechtold 19
Socialist party (SP) Emile Roemer 14
GreenLeft (GL) Jesse Klaver 14
Labour party (PvdA) Lodewijk Asscher 9


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 won 33 seats compared to Wilders' 20.

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.

Read more analysis:

French elections

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

Previous president: Francois Hollande
New president: Emmanuel Macron

Key candidates:

Party Leader First round results Final results
Forward! (EM) Emmanuel Macron 23.75% 66%
None (previously 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

12 February: German presidential election
24 September: German federal election

Chancellor: Angela Merkel

Results:

Party Leader Seats (projected)
Christian Democratic Union/
Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU)
Angela Merkel 238
Social Democratic party (SPD) Martin Schulz 148
Alternative for Germany (AfD) Katja Kipping 95
Free Democratic party Christian Lindner 78


Angela Merkel secured a widely anticipated fourth term as German chancellor, in a result that should bring some much-needed stability to the European Union – at least in the short term.
Merkel was seen as one of the last pillars of stability for liberal democracy in Europe, and the pro-EU chancellor claimed victory at the head of the centre-right Christian Democrat-led alliance (CDU/CSU). Martin Schulz’s Social Democrats trailed in second place with 148 seats, according to the exit polls.

Perhaps the biggest story of the election, and the one that will cause most concern for EU leaders, is the rise once again of rightwing populists. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) party stormed home in third place with a projected 95 seats, marking the first time in almost six decades that an openly nationalist party will enter the Bundestag.

This points to a wider weakening of the traditionally dominant CDU/CSU parties. Merkel may have claimed victory, but her share of votes was down by about 8% compared with 2013. Germany now faces weeks of drawn-out coalition talks between the parties, about who will form a government with the CDU/CSU. While the AfD will be given little say in negotiations, the party will look to capitalise on an increasingly fragmented political structure in Germany and build its supporter base. 
The euro slipped on the morning of the result, down 0.3% against the dollar to $1.1923.

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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