Why did it matter to traders?
Viewed in hindsight, the anxiety surrounding the French presidential elections as campaigning began can be hard to fathom. After all, France voted in a popular, centrist leader in Emmanuel Macron — whose parliamentary majority will prove hugely useful in enacting some much-needed reforms, even if his enemies may claim that record low voter turnout undermines his mandate.
But this result was by no means a certainty, especially with the political rollercoaster that was 2016 still fresh in the minds of traders. And an election that saw ‘Penelopegate’ envelope Francois Fillon, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s late surge in popularity, and the progression of far-right radical Marine Le Pen to the second round was always going to cause market jitters.
In the end, the markets’ preferred candidate won out, becoming the first president in modern political history not to represent one of France’s two mainstream parties in the process. Now, though, the challenges facing Macron are numerous: not least a slumbering French economy, a divided populace, and complicated negotiations with Britain over Brexit.