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How did you come up with the idea of creating a website dedicated to the French election?
The purpose was to provide investors with useful tools while offering attractive media coverage of the campaign. The website is now live and not only does it feature analyst opinions and investment advice, but it also monitors information posted on social media about each candidate in real time. This exclusive reporting, called the Social Media Opinion Index, has been made possible through our partnership with the Social Media Lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), which draws on the latest advances in artificial intelligence.
What financial advice is offered to investors?
On top of articles from financial analysts and a media watch, we offer a basket of stocks related to themes involved in the presidential campaign. This basket is the latest addition to the regular Themes Trading section available on our website, where we provide potential investment solutions related to targeted themes. For the French presidential election, we thought it would be interesting to project ourselves into the future – hypothetical, of course – scenario of a return to protectionism. Several candidates, especially Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, put forward a protectionist approach to stimulate the economy. We want to show how investors could take advantage of that possibility, by identifying the companies that would potentially benefit from it.
How will the platform change after the first round?
As soon as the two winners of the first round are determined, content will be expanded. We’ll set out two investment scenarios, one for each candidate, featuring tips on currency trading, indices and shares should that candidate go on to be elected. For example in the Themes Trading section, we’ll identify the industries and companies in the best position to grow in value under each candidate in office. An exclusive infographic will also break down their economic programmes, background, support, etc.
Can you explain the concept behind the Social Media Opinion Index?
Twice a week until the evening of the first round, we’ll measure the opinion expressed on social media using computer graphics to assess the reputation of the top five candidates: Emmanuel Macron, François Fillon, Marine Le Pen, Benoît Hamon and Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Starting on Sunday 23 April, with only two candidates left in the running, we’ll chart their progress with a daily analysis. Every day, an index will show the percentage of positive and negative views expressed about each candidate. The timeline will monitor opinion almost in real time.
That means faster than with traditional polls…
What’s useful here is the potential difference that could emerge between the results of traditional polls and direct measures of opinion on social media. If the polls are off, investors could bet on a surprise win. For example with Brexit, in the days leading up to the vote, the opinion expressed online in the United Kingdom was favourable to withdrawing from the European Union. But the polls didn’t pick up on that movement. Similarly, as supporters of the National Front aren’t typically open about it, official polls have trouble predicting the vote, and that might be more accurately detected using the tool developed with EPFL. If, as the election nears, more opinions in favour of Marine Le Pen are expressed online, we could suppose that something is going on at that end.
Do you plan to re-apply the concept to other political elections?
Absolutely. We’re going to set up a similar platform for the German elections, planned in August. And again, we’ll be providing exclusive content.