Archive for the 'France' Category

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Matthew Shaddick: Why the betting markets are over-rating Marine Le Pen’s chances

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Shadsy of Ladbrokes on how punters are viewing the French Presidential race

Ladbrokes are currently building up a very big liability on a Marine Le Pen victory in May’s French Presidential election. I’d be very surprised if that isn’t also the case with all of the other fixed-odds bookmakers offering odds.

I’m happy with that, as I can see some very good reasons why the betting markets are over-rating her chances.

1. It’s possible that a lot of people betting on her are not all that familiar with the electoral system. Plenty of media reports will refer to her as leading in the polls, and it’s true she is ahead in some of the first round voting intentions.But, in the second round match ups, it’s not even close; she’s typically polling 30pts behind the other likely runners. Trump and Brexit were never remotely that far behind in the run-up to those votes.

For various regulatory reasons, French voters are mostly going to find it very hard to place a bet on the election, so the people who really do know the system are minor players in this market

2. The Brexit/Trump winners are playing up their winnings.. Plenty of people have done very nicely out of betting on politics over the last couple of years. A Tory majority, the referendum and Trump all lined the pockets of the casual political punter who was prepared to ignore the “experts”, the polls and the markets. I can see that a lot of those are continuing to ride that wave with Le Pen. Maybe they will be right again, but more likely this factor will lead to her being over-bet.

3. Le Pen is the story as far as the media are concerned, certainly in the UK. No report on the election could possibly leave her out, but frequently nobody mentions Macron who, in my opinion, has a much better chance of becoming President. With some UK bookies, Macron is over twice the price.

If you want a better estimate of Le Pen’s chances, I’d look at the markets at Hypermind. Normally, evidence shows that prediction markets where cash is at stake provide better estimates but, in this case, I’m not so sure.

Hypermind is a French based “SuperForecaster” effort, which is one big plus. If you’d been following it earlier in the campaign you might be sitting on some very nice bets on Fillon, as their forecasting saw his chances improve much before the betting markets. You could have got 33/1 a couple of weeks before the Republican primary. He’s now odds-on.

Currently, Hypermind gives Le Pen a 12% chance of winning, which equates to about 7/1. Macron is showing as about a 24% chance – almost 3/1. He’s still a good bet at the bookies.

Matthew Shaddick (Shadsy) is Head of Political Odds at Ladbrokes



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Macron at 6/1 looks the value bet for next French president

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

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By far the biggest political betting market at the moment is on the French presidential election the first round of which takes place in April. On the Betfair exchange alone £2m has been matched which suggests that this will be a huge market when we get to polling day.

All the focus has on the far right contender, Marine Le Pen, who at about 23% is currently the second favourite behind Francois Fillon, the Republican nominee, who is rated on the markets at about 54%.

The incumbent is not re-standing and the Socialists are going through their nomination process at the moment.

The big mover is the 39 year old telegenic independent, Emmanuel Macron, who is positioning himself to get centre ground votes and some left wing support as well. He needs a large slab of the latter in the first round of voting in order to make the final two. If he gets to the final round when the top two slug it out he could be in with a chance against Fillon.

What could help him is a move to back a round one contender who could stop Le Pen from making the run-off.

The polls have been closing and his current 6/1 price looks reasonable value.

Mike Smithson




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If the betting markets have this right today’s Republican primary winner will be the next President of France

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

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Francois Fillon is a 69% chance



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With the French Republican primary run-off tomorrow David Herdson wonders why doesn’t France use AV

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

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Their stupid voting system could let in an unpopular extremist

Just as one never-ending presidential election ends, another begins. France goes to the polls again tomorrow to pick the centre-right candidate of Les Républicains; their choice being between former prime minister Alain Juppé and former prime minister François Fillon.

Fillon is the extremely strong favourite (1/16 with Ladbrokes, to Juppé’s 8/1); a remarkable turnaround given that the polls in the week of the first round of the primary indicated a close three-way fight with former president Nicholas Sarkozy. In fact, the polling failure there was even worse than the recent high-profile ones in Britain and the US: Fillon won by some 15.5%.

As things stand then, next year’s general election will come down to a fight between Fillon and the Front National leader, Marine Le Pen. However, so much has changed within the last week that it would be foolish in the extreme to simply assume that today’s standings will be reproduced five months hence.

One factor which may come into play is the particularly stupid voting system used, which manages to import the worst features of FPTP into a majoritarian system. With only the top two candidates going into the run-off (assuming that no-one receives more than 50%, which they won’t), voters are obliged to think tactically as well as in terms of positive support. Can their candidate reach the last two? If not, do they still support them or do they switch to a more popular alternative to ensure that they do make it through?

Similarly, parties are obliged to think about playing a similar game. A field too crowded will ensure that none of those there are successful – but the game of who should stand and who should stand down is one of bluff and bravado as much as logical and mutual interest.

The best example of how it can all go wrong remains that of Lionel Jospin in 2002. The election should really have been there for the taking for the Socialist. The incumbent president, Jacques Chirac, was unpopular and Jospin was his only serious mainstream rival. However, the field was extremely fractured and while only three candidates polled more than 7%, the total share for those minor candidates came in at some 47%; enough to enable Jean-Marie Le Pen to scrape into the run-off with just 16.9%, to Jospin’s 16.2%.

As Le Pen proved in the second round, the FN was incredibly transfer-unfriendly (he gained less than 1% in the second round; Chirac gained more than 60%) and had France used full preference transfers as under AV, we can be virtually certain that he’d have been knocked out before the final round, which would likely have been the expected Chirac-Jospin battle.

But it wasn’t then and nor is it now. Could something similar happen? The risk is that it could be even worse. We’ve not had any general election polling since Fillon’s surprise breakthrough and to date, nearly all the polls named Juppé or Sarkozy as LR’s candidate (though given the polls’ performance last weekend, we have to be dubious about their utility anyway). What does seem extremely likely is that Marine Le Pen will finish in the top two: it’s over three years since any poll placed her outside and the FN seems to have enough solid support to keep it above 25%, which would be more than enough to qualify for the run-off and could be enough to lead the field.

Unlike 2002, short of some scandal, there probably isn’t anything that could prevent the FN reaching the second round; they simply have too much support. The question is who will face her.

It ought to be Fillon given his result last week. Will it though? He should certainly win the primary. His 44% from the first round is an extremely strong starting point and Sarkozy’s endorsement will help too. After that, it’s a more open question. His time as prime minister marked him as a reformist much keener on the market and ‘Anglo-Saxon ideas’ than is traditional in France (not the least of which is that his wife is Welsh).

If Fillon does win the primary, that’s likely to be enough to prompt François Bayrou of MoDem into the race (Bayrou had said he would support Juppé were he the nominee). When Sarkozy was named in the polls, Bayrou was usually quoted for the same reason, with the former president taking only around 20%.

Three other candidates need mentioning at this point: Emmanuel Macron, running as an independent but formerly a member of Hollande’s government; Hollande himself; and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, of the left-wing Parti de Gauche. Of these, Hollande can be most readily dismissed. Polling dismally, he may not even win his primary and it’s not impossible that he won’t even stand, though the alternatives for the Socialists barely do any better. The other two candidates however poll in the mid-teens.

The risk for France is that as in 2002, a crowded field lets someone into the run-off with a score in only the upper teens which a large majority of the population actively would not want. In this case, that’d be Mélenchon. However, unlike in 2002, there wouldn’t even be a flawed mainstream candidate in the final round; the line-up instead being far left vs far right. It wouldn’t happen with AV.

David Herdson





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Fillon heads for victory and looks set to be the one who’ll fight Marine le Pen to be next French President

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

In the betting he’s a 62% chance

He’s still to beat Juppe in next Sunday’s runoff



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In today’s unique national primary French Republicans are voting on who’ll be the one to take on Marine Le Pen

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

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The 2017 French Presidential election now the biggest political betting market

There’s a unique election taking place in France today with members of the public who declare themselves to be Republican party supporters able to vote in a national primary to decide who’ll be the flag-carrier next April.

The rules of the primary are straightforward. If no contender secures 50% of the vote today then the top two will fight again in a runoff next week. This is exactly the same system as is used in the main election itself.

Based on current polling the chances are that the final two next spring with be the right-wing National Front leader, Marine Le Pen, and the winner of the Republican race.

The primary polling suggests today’ vote could be very tight. The former PM and long-standing favourite, Alan Juppé, is just ahead of François Fillon and the ex-president, Nicolas Sarkozy.

There has been a huge amount of UK betting interest in Marine Le Pen following Trump’s victory in the US.

    It should be noted that people in France are unable to access online betting sites in the UK which means that unlike BREXIT those who are having a punt are less likely to be voters themselves.

Mike Smithson