Balance of Power: Bloomberg’s New Global Politics Daily

Le Pen, Macron to Faceoff in Presidential Runoff

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Welcome to Balance of Power, Bloomberg's new daily newsletter on global politics. We took a hiatus after the U.S. presidential election and now aim to pull the lens back for a broader look at the people and the forces that shape our world. The stories here will take us from Washington to London to Beijing, and all points in between.

We hope you enjoy it.

-- John Fraher and Craig Gordon (executive editors of global and U.S. political coverage)

The Globalist vs. the Nationalist

In the end, the globalists breathed a sigh of relief.

Nationalist firebrand Marine Le Pen didn't quite pull off the kind of breakout performance in the first round of the French presidential election that would have raised fears about a Trump-like shock in two weeks time. Polls conducted after centrist Emmanuel Macron won the first round of the French presidential election show him beating her by wide margin in the May 7 runoff. Markets agree, with French stocks surging and the euro hitting its highest level since November.

That said, the results showed a deeply divided nation. More than 40 percent of voters opted for candidates who want to overturn the existing political order. That gives Le Pen a large reservoir of discontent that she can tap into. And it will be hard for Macron, a former investment banker, to argue he represents a break from the establishment.

So expect an ugly second round in which Le Pen tries to put down a marker for an eventual victory five years from now.

Le Pen and Macron on April 23.

Le Pen and Macron on April 23.

Photographs: Bloomberg

Follow Bloomberg's coverage of what happens next on our special election page here.

Elsewhere Around the Globe

U.S. Shutdown Hinges on Trump Demand | U.S. lawmakers have until week’s end to avert a government shutdown with a new budget. If President Donald Trump sticks to his call for border wall money over Democratic objections, odds that the lights go out on many U.S. facilities will go up dramatically. And it would start on his 100th day in office on Saturday, when he’s planning a big rally in Pennsylvania.

Xi Seeks Restraint | With another North Korean missile launch -- or nuclear test -- possible this week, Chinese President Xi Jinping used a call with Trump to urge all parties to keep calm. That call comes as the arrival of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the area risks stirring up Pyongyang. The ship is now doing drills in the western Pacific with Japan.

Obamacare The Sequel, Coming this Week? | Trump is pressuring House Republicans to hold another vote to replace Obamacare this week, even though White House strong-arming helped kill the bill last month. Conservatives weren’t ready then, and don’t sound ready this time, with two prominent Republicans saying an early May vote is more to their liking.

May Hires Jim Messina | The British prime minister has taken on President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign manager after calling a snap election last week, according to a person familiar with the situation. The appointment comes as May's lead over the opposition Labour Party widens, with polls showing her Conservatives ahead by 20 percentage points. That's the widest gap since 1991, the year after Margaret Thatcher stepped down. Messina, who starts today, worked on former Prime Minister David Cameron's successful campaign in 2015.

IMF Pulls Back on Criticizing Protectionism | World leaders at the IMF's spring meeting in Washington stripped out language condemning protectionism from their joint statement, an olive branch to Trump's administration as he weighs imposing tariffs and rewriting trade deals. A warmer feel was on display as IMF chief Christine Lagarde, a champion of globalization, joked with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who said U.S. policies aimed at fueling 3 percent growth will lift the rest of the globe.

Saudi Scales Back Austerity | Saudi Arabia’s King Salman restored bonuses and allowances for state employees that were canceled last year, after stinging criticism on social media among citizens accustomed to generous state handouts. He also named Prince Khalid Bin Salman, his son and a U.S.-trained air force pilot, as the new ambassador to Washington. Saudi stocks surged on optimism that the move will give a boost to consumer spending. 

Zuma Makes Power a Family Affair | With his time as African National Congress leader running out, President Jacob Zuma has a plan to maintain his hold on power in South Africa: install his ex-wife and mother of four of his children in the position. His motivation is clear. He may need a pardon from his successor to avoid being jailed for 783 graft charges that were dropped just weeks before he became president in 2009.

And Finally... If France voted like New York then Macron would already be president. The city's ex-pats voted 53 percent in favor of the 39-year-old former investment banker, crossing the 50 percent threshold that candidates need to win outright. Le Pen, who was last seen in New York when she visited Trump Tower during the transition, took just 3 percent. 

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