With just one month to go until Brits go to the polls you would be forgiven for thinking June 23 cannot come soon enough, which is why it makes sense to look beyond the vote, whatever the outcome.
Investors’ engagement with markets since the financial crisis has largely been a narrative of deadlines, from the US debt ceiling crises of 2011 and 2013 through to the countdown to Greece’s implosion during the height of the eurozone troubles a few years back.
That Greece is still struggling to meet looming repayments to the IMF and the ECB make for further deadlines that could spook investors this summer, though this major issue has been somewhat swept under the carpet until our EU fate has been decided.
That’s not the only problem for Europe. While we digest the Austrian elections, a far-right, anti-immigration agenda is spreading across the continent.
For Chris Metcalfe, investment director at IBOSS, it is national elections that are a real “existential threat” to both the eurozone and the EU itself in its present state, to the extent that he is taking a more defensive stance on investing in the region.
"It is only a matter of time before an election is won by, or control taken by, a party that will leave the EU"
“The far right (and in some cases the far left) and nationalist parties are gaining ground across Europe and the majority are passionately anti-EU,” he says.
“In the case of the French, who have elections in May next year, the bookies have the National Fronts Marine Le Pen at 6/1. She is the most popular politician, but in the second and decisive vote for the position of president there will be an ‘anybody but Le Pen’ vote akin to the ‘anybody but Trump’ one.
“The Dutch election has to be held by 17 March 2017, assuming the coalition hangs together that long, and unlike the French situation Geert Wilders could be in a position to manage a coalition which would have to be staunchly anti-EU in nature.”
Metcalfe asserts that the EU has become a deeply unpopular institution to an ever-increasing number of people. He stresses that it is only a matter of time before an election is won by, or control taken by, a party that will leave the EU.