WASHINGTON (AFP) - The head of the International Monetary Fund on Thursday (April 20) said a victory by the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in France's presidential elections this year could cause political and economic upheaval.
"It would certainly entail major disorder," IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, a former French economy minister, told CNBC television in Washington, where the fund and World Bank were kicking off semi-annual meetings.
France is to hold the first round of presidential elections on Sunday. Although polls do not suggest a clear path to the presidency for Le Pen, pundits are wary of saying she can't win.
Le Pen has pledged to take France out of the euro zone and stage a referendum on exiting the European Union, as Britain voted to do last year.
The IMF has renewed its pleas in favour of trade integration and liberalisation this week, as it contends with a rise in nationalist sentiment on both sides of the Atlantic.
The European Union and harmonisation in Europe were a centrepiece of the political order after World War II, Lagarde said.
"It has protected us from, you know, the horrors of wars and we need to keep that in mind," she said.
"We were at each other's throats for centuries," Lagarde added.
"The fact that we have had nearly 70 years of peace and amicable and constructive relationships is a jewel and it needs to be secured."