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Macron's Snap Election Call Amid Falling Euro, French Woes

Macron calls snap elections amid economic woes; euro falls 0.5% and French bond futures slip.

By Athena Xu

6/10, 03:03 EDT
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Key Takeaway

  • French President Macron's call for snap parliamentary elections has added market uncertainty, causing the euro to fall 0.5% to $1.0750.
  • France's economic challenges are highlighted by a recent S&P credit rating downgrade and underperformance in French bond futures.
  • The elections aim to counter Marine Le Pen’s far-right influence, crucial for Macron’s legislative agenda and political credibility.

Macron's Snap Election Gamble

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for snap parliamentary elections following a poor performance by his party in the European Parliament elections. This move is seen as an attempt to counter the rising influence of Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally and the hard left. Macron’s decision comes at a time when France is facing significant economic and political challenges. The spread between French and German bond yields, which had been negligible, widened during the eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis and has not returned to normal levels since. Recently, Standard & Poor’s downgraded France’s sovereign credit rating due to concerns about its deficit, and the French stock market has also seen a decline this year.

Yves Bertoncini, an independent consultant in EU affairs, commented on Macron’s decision, stating, “It’s not just a gamble, it’s audacious. Usually, players who make a move like this don’t have many cards left.” The upcoming election, set to take place over two rounds beginning June 30, will be crucial for Macron’s ability to push through legislation and maintain political credibility.

Market Reactions

The announcement of the snap elections has had immediate effects on the financial markets. The euro fell 0.5% to $1.0750 in early trading, its weakest in a month, reversing an almost 2% rally since mid-April. French bond futures also slipped, underperforming their German counterparts. The latest CFTC data shows that leveraged traders had shifted to net long euro positions ahead of last week’s ECB interest rate cut, adding to the downside bias for the EUR/USD cross.

Mark Cranfield from Bloomberg noted, “The euro is set for near-term underperformance after French President Emmanuel Macron surprised traders by calling a snap parliamentary vote.” The move adds additional uncertainty to the market, especially after far-right parties made gains in the EU elections. This uncertainty is compounded by the fact that FX markets are less liquid than usual due to various holidays in Asia.

Political Implications

The snap elections are seen as a high-stakes move by Macron to re-establish a stronger, moderate majority in the French parliament. Macron’s decision was influenced by his experience at the D-Day commemorations in Normandy, where he encountered bystanders who expressed concerns about the aggressive nature of political life. Macron stated, “I can’t pretend that nothing’s happened. The rise of nationalists and demagogues is a danger not only for our nation, but also for our Europe, and for France’s place in Europe and the world.”

The election offers Marine Le Pen a significant opportunity to solidify her political influence. If her National Rally group confirms its position as the country’s biggest party, she could play a key role in appointing the next prime minister. However, people familiar with Macron’s inner circle believe that the far-right parties are still shy of 40% and are confident in governing alongside a prime minister from another mainstream party.