Europe News

IMF chief 'worried' about elections across Europe amid populist rise

International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde has expressed concern over the flurry of upcoming elections in Europe, set against a backdrop of rising support for populist parties.

Major countries across Europe including Germany, France and the Netherlands will hold elections, creating uncertainty about the future state of the European Union (EU).

After the shock results of Brexit and Donald Trump becoming U.S. President, the international community is bracing itself for any result.

"I am worried, as we all are, about the outcome of some of these elections," Lagarde told an audience at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday.

Jason Alden | Bloomberg | Getty Images

But the IMF head said that the election of any populist candidates might not necessarily be completely negative. She used the election of Matteo Renzi as Italian Prime Minister in 2014, and of Alexis Tsipras in Greece in 2015, as examples.

"Remember when Matteo Renzi was elected, everyone thought 'oh my god, what is going to happen with this maverick?'" said Lagarde, adding that when Renzi's administration begun, there was "not much mavericking" that had taken place.

In regards to Tsipras, Lagarde said that it has been "difficult" and "laborious" dealing with Greece but "changes are taking place".

Greece is now on a third bailout program worth 86 billion euros ($92 billion). But there is an impasse between the country, the EU and the IMF over the implementation of austerity measures.

The IMF and Greece have had a rocky relationship over the past few years. On Friday, George Katrougalos, the Greek alternative foreign minister for EU affairs, told CNBC that the country is under pressure from the IMF to overcome the impasse.

Lagarde also addressed the election of President Trump, saying it's hard to tell so far from his short time in power, whether fears over the kind of policies he promised to enact would actually happen.

"I have not seen enough of the reality to actually compare the assumptions, the fears … to the reality of it," Lagarde said.