Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

Clear and present Le Pen?

Written by Charlie Clegg, senior associate
Edited by Tom Gillingham, partner
4 April 2022

Good morning,

In Samuel Johnson’s words: “Depend upon it, sir, that when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully”. Emmanuel Macron seems to be hoping a similar existential threat can concentrate the minds of the French electorate. The first round of France’s presidential elections take place this coming Sunday. With a latest polling average of 28%, Macron has a clear lead in a field of 11 but has pivoted towards emphasising the danger of his leading rival Marine Le Pen of the far-right Rassemblement National. “[Nothing] is impossible” Macron told supporters, “but I don’t want arrogance or defeatism. I want general mobilisation.” Le Pen – by the same metric – is eight points behind. Polls for a run-off between the pair in the second round of the election show Macron finishing with 56% and Le Pen with 44%: a far narrower lead than the two thirds majority Macron won over the same opponent in 2017. An upset is, of course, possible but Macron’s call to arms aims more to secure an emphatic win than to eek him over the line. He has come down slightly from a poll boost gained after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Le Pen, however, softened her image and continued to rise, despite having to pulp over a million election leaflets showing her with sometime ally Vladimir Putin. Macron is rightly wary of any complacency his post-invasion boost may have engendered in his supporters. In actuality, the French system is likely to help concentrates minds more wonderfully than any rally. So long as Le Pen and Macron take the top two spots on Sunday, they’ll meet each other alone in a final duel a fortnight later.   This was the system that took Macron to the Élysée – albeit on better poll figures – in 2017. In 2002, it allowed French voters to decide they’d rather have the “the crook” (Jacques Chirac) than “the fascist” (Le Pen’s father Jean). Two weeks’ campaigning and the starkness of the two-way choice is likely to scrub any complacency from anti-Le Pen voters’ minds. While I’d hazard Macron is safer than he and many commentators make out, I will not ask you to depend upon it.

News

Viktor Orban has won a fourth consecutive term as prime minister by a landslide in Hungary’s country’s general election. His right-wing Fidesz party had 53.1% of votes with 98% of the count complete. In his victory speech, Orban called EU bureaucrats and Ukraine’s President Zelensky ”opponents”.

Withdrawal of Russian forces from the area around Kyiv has revealed evidence of the execution of civilians, rape, and systematic looting. Speaking to the American TV station CBS President Zelensky declared: “This is genocide.” In response, the EU has begun to prepare further sanctions against Russia.

Police have issued fines to Downing Street staff over a party that took place the night before Prince Philip’s funeral. This is the first decision by Scotland Yard that Covid laws were broken inside No 10.

Business and economy

More than 3,000 workers at 60 companies across Britain will trial a four-day working week. The pilot, possibly the world’s largest, is being run by academics at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, as well as Boston College, in partnership with 4 Day Week Global, the 4 Day Week UK Campaign, and the Autonomy thinktank.

According to law firm Boodle Hatfield, the value of the largest serviced office providers’ estates has fallen to £24.3bn from £25.7bn in the previous year as companies sold off property in response to the pandemic. Since 2017, the value of office space providers has jumped more than 300%, up from just £5.9bn. Boodle Hatfield expects the sector’s value to grow again, however.

City firms are sponsoring overseas recruits at the fastest rate since before Britain voted to leave the EU. The number of visa sponsorships by UK-based financial services firms has risen from 722 in the last quarter of 2016 to 2,192 in the same period of 2021.

Columns of note

Recent elections have seen Europe’s centre and centre-left reclaim some of the ground lost to populists in the wake of the 2008 financial crash. Now, half the continent’s population lives under a centrist or centre-left-led government. Does this hold any lessons for Sir Keir Starmer? In the Financial Times, Tony Blair’s former adviser John McTernan argues it does. He believes Europe’s resurgent social democrats show that strong internal discipline, better ties with foreign allies, and clarity on domestic policy could all help the UK Labour leader. (£) Only 28% of the UK population uses Twitter. Polls show the angry, polarised discussion on the site is not reflected in society at large. Twitter is obviously not “the real world”. In the Guardian, however, Moya Lothian-McLean claims the real world/Twitter distinction is effectively irrelevant: so long as the site fuels angry discussion among leaders, that will trickle into the public as a whole.

Markets

What happened yesterday?

Recent elections have seen Europe’s centre and centre-left reclaim some of the ground lost to populists in the wake of the 2008 financial crash. Now, half the continent’s population lives under a centrist or centre-left-led government. Does this hold any lessons for Sir Keir Starmer? In the Financial Times, Tony Blair’s former adviser John McTernan argues it does. He believes Europe’s resurgent social democrats show that strong internal discipline, better ties with foreign allies, and clarity on domestic policy could all help the UK Labour leader. (£)

Only 28% of the UK population uses Twitter. Polls show the angry, polarised discussion on the site is not reflected in society at large. Twitter is obviously not “the real world”. In the Guardian, however, Moya Lothian-McLean claims the real world/Twitter distinction is effectively irrelevant: so long as the site fuels angry discussion among leaders, that will trickle into the public as a whole.

Markets

What’s happening this week?

Ukraine’s President Zelensky will address the Greek and Irish parliaments this week as Nato members’ foreign ministers meet to discuss the conflict in the country. EU finance ministers will also meet to discuss the economic effects of the conflict at the Ecofin conference. On Sunday, French voters go to the polls in the first round of the country’s presidential election. There are 11 candidates with incumbent president Emmanuel Macron leading the field.

Today, Nasa will hold a press conference to discuss the final test stages for its Artemis 1 rocket, which aims to establish a long-term lunar colony. On Wednesday, Axiom, the first all-private rocket to take astronauts to the International Space Station, is due to launch from Nasa’s Kennedy space centre.

The US Federal Reserve is due to publish the minutes of its latest meeting. Nokia will report results on Tuesday, UBS on Wednesday, and Rio Tinto on Friday.

What’s happening today?

Final resultsElixirr Int. Belvoir    Xpediator Plc    

Final results(15:00) Factory Orders (US)(10:00) Producer Price Index (EU)(00:00) PMI Services (GER)(08:55) PMI Services (GER)(07:00) Current Account (GER)(07:00) Balance of Trade (GER)

did you know

In Britain, it is more likely to snow on the Easter weekend than on Christmas Day.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons is in recess. The House will next sit on 19 April 2022.

House of Lords 

Oral questionsVarious LegislationBuilding Safety Bill – third readingNationality and Borders Bill – Lords consideration of Commons amendments DebateState sanctioned political violence, voter roll irregularities and the intimidation of voters ahead of recent local by-elections in Zimbabwe

Scottish parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess and will return on 17 April 2022.

Share this post