Betting on politics: The French election

Political betting expert Matthew Partridge weighs up the odds on the upcoming French election.


Marine Le Pen is in second place
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Interest in the French presidential election is running high, with £7.8m traded on Betfair alone. Both the bookmakers and the betting markets have the centrist Emmanuel Macron firmly in the lead. Indeed, after a strong performance in the latest presidential debate, his odds on Betfair have shrunk to 1.54, giving him an implied 64.9% chance of moving into the lyse Palace by May.

Things are not so bright for Franois Fillon, however. The erstwhile frontrunner may have managed to avoid being dumped by his party, and nominations have now closed, so it's going to be almost impossible to replace him now. However, he continues to be submerged by scandal, with the latest allegations claiming that he was paid for arranging a meeting between Putin and a Lebanese businessman. The upshot is that he is now trailing firmly in third place at 8.4 (11.9%).

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front, is in second place at 4.5 (22.2%), suggesting that there are still people who think that she has a reasonable chance of winning. However, she has made little progress in polls recently, and may even come second in the first round to Macron. Indeed, her odds have slipped sharply from the 30% chance that Betfair gave her only a month ago, let alone the highs that immediately followed Donald Trump's election as US president in November.

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There have been so many twists and turns that I would be wary of betting on Macron, even though the gap between him and Fillon in the first round polls is now seven points. However, if you haven't bet against Le Pen, I'd advise you to do so now (though don't make a second bet against her). Even the troubled Fillon still enjoys a comfortable lead over Le Pen in the head-to-heads, while Macron is miles ahead. However you look at it, a low-risk return of 26.9% over six weeks is pretty good.

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri