Archive for the 'France' Category


PB’s lunchtime cartoon for the day of the Macron visit

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

What’s TMay’s strategy?


Macron’s first big decision – choosing his Prime Minister. Chris from Paris looks at the betting

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

On the previous thread Chris from Paris gave his views on who Macron is going to choose as his first Prime Minister. Betffair has just got a market up. These are Chris’s views with the numbers being the Betfair price when he posted.

Pascal Lamy 10.0 : ok price, a bit low: Lamy has a great international profile but pretty unlikely PM as he has never been either a MP or a minister

Le Drian 7.2 : the price is too low, as Le Drian will keep the Defence ministry if he wants but refuses to leave the socialist party, thus could not lead the En marche campaign for the parliamentary election

Philippe 4.1 : very good price, as the current rumor in Paris is that he is the favorite. He is a centre-right republicain, was Juppé’s spokesman, is reasonably young (47), a former MP and current Le Havre mayor.

Idrac 4.4: another good price. Former (low-rank) Chirac and Sarkozy minister, former CEO of the Paris metro and of the French railways. Probably the most experienced and credible female candidate from the Macron camp.

Bayrou 6.2: the price is too low. He had a key role in the campaign but is hated by most of the right since he supported Hollande in 2012.

Lagarde 16 : would be the perfect candidate if she had not been convicted for “negligence” regarding a payment to a controversial businessman a few months ago.

Le Maire 10: ok price. He would clearly like to be chosen but waited Sunday night to offer his services and strongly criticized Macron a few months back.

Goulard 5.2 : price a bit too low. She will enter the government but probably get the Foreign Affairs. A MEP (and former advisor to Prodi in Brussels) she is Macron’s european affairs specialist. She never had any National parliamentary mandate.

Borloo 10 : has left politics 3 years ago for “medical reasons” (liquid lunches mostly). He is popular but joined Macron very late and is considered unreliable.

Ferrand 5 : the price is too low The ultimate insider of the campaign but almost totally unknown by the general public.

Collomb 10 : I don’t see it. He is the Lyon mayor and first fan of Macron but he seems too old (70).

– Barbaroux 20 Schiappa 25 Griveau 25: Who?

Royal 21 : hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Malek Boutih 20 : The price seems right. The choice of this son of Algerian parents who grew up in a shanty town would be a stunning development. But he is quite controversial due to his strong denunciation of any complacency towards radical islam.

Valls 34 / Sapin 25 / Touraine 25 / Taubira 25 Cazeneuve 25 : I don’t think that Macron is suicidal enough to choose a pillar of the Hollande team

Kosciusko-Morizet 50 : She ticks many boxes (woman, 43, very centrist and “modern” image, former Mp and Minister) but has publicly declined the openings from the Macron camp.

In summary my favorites are Philippe and Idrac and I backed both

Thanks Chris. This should all be resolved in the next few days.

My view is that Macron is young and will go for someone from his generation.

Mike Smithson


Macron ends up doing even better than the exit polls

Monday, May 8th, 2017

New York Times graphic

His victory was almost two to one

In the immediate aftermath of the first round two weeks ago I wrote here that the final outcome was nearest thing to an absolute certainty you could have and I bet accordingly.

There was no way I could see, during the final phase of the campaign that Le Pen could win given the sheer size of the opinion polls gap.

The polls had been dead on for the first round and it was hard seeing anything other than a good performance by them in the second.

    In the end Macron was understated which I put down to the French law that prevented any polls to be published after Friday

If we had had polling taking in the Saturday my guess is that they would have got it closer. There was a clear trend to Macron from Wednesday onwards.

Surprisingly Macron’s price offered remarkable value even till after the count had started and the exit polls.

We had that remarkable statement from Ladbrokes on. Saturday that 90% of the bets being placed with them were on Le Pen a mood that, perhaps, had been helped by memories of Brexit and Trump.

So what has been the biggest non UK/US political betting event is over and we can now look forward to June 8th and later in the year the German election.

Mike Smithson


Macron wins by an estimated 65.5% to 34.5%

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

The powers of the French President

Mike Smithson


Marine le Pen might be 26% behind in the polls but she’s attracting 90% of bets at Ladbrokes

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

The polls close at 1900 BST tomorrow when should get the next polls.

Mike Smithson


Macron moves to a 90%+ chance as another day goes by and his 20% lead holds firm

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

The time’s running out for Le Pen

Latest betting on the French Presidential elections has Macron moving to a 90% chance with the far right Marine Le Pen on 10%. There is not much time left for Le Pen’s hoped for surge to bring about victory.

French law imposes a black out on published polls after Friday and the election takes place on Sunday closing at 1900 BST.

What is extraordinary about the polling is how all of them have the gap within just 1%. Macron is between 19% and 20% ahead.

Giving how successful the French polls were in the first round then it is hard to see how they could be so wrong in the second but there still are quite a large number of undecideds amongst supporters of contenders who did not make it to the final cut.

The election, of course, is decided by the total number of votes each candidates gets throughout France.

The betting in the UK has been huge and the contest continues to attract large amounts of money. The more this looks like a certainty for Macron the more it will attract those punters who want to make what appears to be a certain return over a very short period. That will cause the price to tighten even further.

Mike Smithson


The death of populism?

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

As the outcome of round 1 of France’s Presidential election became clear, the relief in the rest of Europe was palpable.  The French were not going to follow the perfidious British and vulgar Americans and vote in as their leader a populist promising to epater the European bourgeoisie.  Europe was safe.  Populism would remain a miserable Anglo-Saxon affair and much good would it do them.

Perhaps.  But maybe there are rather more continuities between the US and France than this rather Panglossian view is prepared to admit.  And Britain, not for the first time, seems to be following its own path.

Consider: for the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic (59 years and still going) neither of the two main parties has made the run off and one of the candidates was (until yesterday) the leader of a party seen as on the disreputable fringe with fascist and anti-semitic antecedents (with some doubting how far the party has really changed on that score).  The front runner and almost certain next President is someone who has never held elected office before, who set up a movement based around his personality barely a year ago, who has managed to attract crowds of adoring supporters and who has, despite his own elitist and impeccably establishment background, managed to present himself as the candidate of “change”.

Doubtless his supporters would choke on their brioche at the suggestion that he is a Gallic version of President Trump.  His investment banker smoothness and engaging smile are a sharp contrast to Trump’s deliberately aggressive persona.  They may hide a sharp brain or nothing more than vacuous platitudes and fear masquerading as tolerance but, like Trump, he will very likely be elected because enough voters feel that the political establishment has failed, want change (quite what is not clear) but fear the sort of change offered by his opponent.  Less happily, and also like Trump, he may find it much harder than expected to get any sort of meaningful change enacted without a strong party supporting him in the legislature.  Still, platitudes, smiles and good speeches can provide good cover for a lack of effective action for quite a long time, as both Blair and Cameron showed.

And what of France’s alternative?  Whatever the reasons for her departure from the FN, Le Pen represents a strand of French politics which has always existed, is never quite able to achieve the sort of electoral success which would test its policies and show them wanting and is therefore never completely killed off.  A sort of political herpes.  But unpleasant as it is to admit it, Le Pen has rather more continuity with mainstream French politicians of the past than her detractors will allow.

Even her recent statement that it was not France which rounded up Jews during the war but the Vichy regime, as if the latter had nothing to do with France, was no different to the justification given by President Mitterand (whose activities during the pre-war and early Vichy period did him no credit) for refusing to give an official apology to French Jews for what France did to them.  “I will not apologise in the name of France,” he said in 1994.  “The Republic had nothing to do with this.  I do not believe France is responsible.”  A sentiment echoed almost word for word by Le Pen in recent days.  Still, given that President Chirac apologised on behalf of France in 1995, it is troubling – and disgraceful – that over two decades later Le Pen still uses the same sophistry used decades earlier by post-war politicians who, to be generous, needed a polite fiction to help heal a wounded nation.

It is this wordplay, a feeling that her concern for the have-nots, the losers from globalization, her worries about France’s undoubted problem with disaffected Islamic communities and the risks of terrorism are not motivated by genuine concern or by a desire to find solutions beyond the superficially easy ones of scapegoating a system or currency or community but are, rather, being used as a means to gain power which will – if the polls are right – prevent her winning.

Still, let’s not get too complacent.  If such a politician can get 40% of the vote in the country of The Declaration of the Rights of Man (as polls suggest she might), imagine what a party without such baggage, without such ante post mistrust of motives might do.  And the problems she has correctly identified will not go away, indeed will likely worsen.  Populist – but toxic – parties provide an easy excuse for mainstream parties and less uncouth politicians to ignore difficult problems until they force themselves onto the national stage, with unpredictable consequences.

And so to Britain which astonished itself by blowing a giant raspberry at pretty much everyone last June.  And yet, nearly a year later it looks as if the only winner from this act of lese-majeste will be Europe’s oldest and most successful political party led by a dull, dutiful, serious middle-aged woman with little on her CV until this point beyond a racy choice in shoes, one memorable phrase and survival at the Home Office. The party which agitated for Brexit has disintegrated, the party traditionally on the side of the have-nots is having a nervous breakdown and the Lib Dems are ever hopeful but largely irrelevant.  Britain’s populist revolt is being smothered in the Tories’ python-like embrace.

Whatever the peculiarities of British, US and French politics, these three leaders and would-be leaders have this in common.  Elections over, the real tests for Macron, May and Trump will be what they can deliver to those who have placed their hopes in them and whether they will be able to take those voters with them when the inevitable difficulties and disappointments arise. 



Latest French polls not quite as good for Macron as they were

Saturday, April 29th, 2017

But he still leads by wide margin

The French election comes to its final round next weekend and the polls are showing a slight edge towards Le Pen though it is still very hard to see a pathway to victory for her.

What is intriguing is this Wikipedia analysis of how second round votes are splitting by what people did on the first round.

Clearly there are lot of voters yet to make up their minds and this is giving a touch of hope to Le Pen backers. Things are not as good as they were from Macron amongst supporters of the ultra left Melenchon as can be seen from the declining shares he’s picking up from this source.

Macron remains 87% favourite on Betfair which I think is good value.

Mike Smithson