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April 28, 2017


What it would take for Le Pen to win

The researcher Serge Galam confirms what we suspected all along: it does not take much for Marine Le Pen to win if voters abstain. Galam looked into what it takes for her to win under different abstention scenarios. He starts with the vote intentions as suggested by the polls, 42% for Le Pen and 58% for Emmanuel Macron. Then, if 90% of the FN voters go to vote but only 65% of those for Macron, Le Pen would end up winning with 50.07%. For Macron the threshold to win is thus 65.17%. This threshold is even higher the closer the two get in the polls. Assuming Le Pen wins two points in the polls and gets 44% of voters intentions, then the threshold for Macron would be 70.71%. So for 2 extra points in the voters intentions for Le Pen the barrier for Macron to win rises by 5pp. We know that the voters behind Le Pen are much more loyal and steadfast than the votes for Macron. Many backed Macron unenthusiastically to block Le Pen. Since the first round, there is a clear rise in aversion against Macron. The absence of a clear backing from Mélenchon and the hashtag #SansMoiLe7Mai on twitter give solidarity to those who consider abstaining, Le Figaro explains. Students from schools and universities mobilised yesterday for a ni-ni: a no to Le Pen and her nationalism, and a no to Macron as a "boss".

This is why mobilisation is key. Macron said so himself yesterday when he warned that everyone who is not voting is helping Le Pen. It would mean an exit from Europe and French history, he warned. On television he reached out to Fillon voters saying that the FN is an anti-Gaullist party. He also called on the voters from Benoît Hamon and Jean-Luc Mélenchon asking for their vote. Macron presented himself as the one to reconcile a divided France: the optimists from the city, those who have doubts and difficulties to get through their daily lives, and those who are angry and refuse change.

What about the legislative elections? Le Monde created a regional simulator based on the results of the first round of the presidential elections on April 23, trying to look at the implications for the legislative elections. It is of course not a prediction and ignores the dynamics of the campaign. But it gives a feeling for the importance of abstention rates. We note that, the higher the abstention rate, the more you end up with three-way contests. With 40% abstention (60% participation) there could be already 83 three-way second rounds. The participation rate in 2012 was 55.4%, and 60.5% in 2007. None of the Socialists will be stepping down to block an FN candidate. The same goes for Republicans. And then there is the question of which candidate En Marche! will nominate. The party received about 400-450 applications for the 577 constituencies but, as of today, only 14 have been made public according to Le Point.

The other question is how to build a government. Macron may want to include candidates from the right, but this might not happen before the legislative elections. While some around Alan Juppé and Bruno Le Maire say in private that they are ready to join the team, this is far from official. It is also not so clear for the others. They ponder whether it is better to let Macron win or fail, given the prospect that Macron, once elected, makes it possible for Le Pen to win even stronger in 2022. For the En marche! movement the question would be how to govern. Macron excluded to negotiate a platform that combines the supporting parties' different programmes. Instead they should think about a separate government programme. There are secret talks going on between both sides. We won't get any official announcement until after May 7.

Our other stories

We also have stories on a polling model in the UK that shows a Tory landslide; on the ECB’s super-slow policy exit; on the Bundesbank’s acknowledgement that banks are not intermediaries; on Macedonia’s political crisis; on a possible motion of no-confidence in Spain; on how Beppe Grillo sees the markets, and why he is delusional; on whether Greek MPs will support reforms even without a debt relief deal; and on how to co-opt Germany into supporting eurozone governance reforms.

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Happy Easter

The Thursday briefing will be our last ordinary briefing before the Easter break. We will be publishing a special briefing with our thoughts on the French elections on Saturday. There will be no weekly review this Saturday. The next Daily Briefing will be on Wednesday, April 19.

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