May announces snap election

In a surprise move, British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday called a snap election for June 8 in what she says is a bid to give Britain a stable majority for the Brexit negotiations. According to the polls her Conservative Party has a big lead against the other parties. Will May's strategy pay off?

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De Standaard (BE) / 21 April 2017

Britain's autocratic adventure

May's strategy is deeply undemocratic, De Standaard criticises:

“She has sparked a political earthquake in a bid to secure a huge parliamentary majority. ... Westminster would then become an applause machine for the prime minister and the last resting place for the decimated minority. ... Is Western Europe's weary democracy sliding unstoppably into an autocratic adventure? Or does it urgently need an injection of dynamism and efficiency? ... In the necessary process of political renewal the equal distribution of power and controls on that power must always take precedence.”

Efimerida ton Syntakton (GR) / 20 April 2017

Labour missed unique opportunity

Political scientist Vasilis-Konstantinos Fouskas explains in Efimerida ton Syntakton why Labour lags far behind the Tories in the polls:

“It missed the unique opportunity to take a clear stance against the EU of German authoritarianism in the Brexit referendum by failing to propose a specifically left-wing, socialist way out of the crisis. … It could have won over many voters by doing this. … Together with the Scots and the [Irish Republican party] Sinn Féin it could have built a platform that united leftist socialist patriotism. … In 2016 Corbyn could have offered Europe's and the world's left a fresh start just as Thatcher did in 1979 for the European and global right.”

Le Soir (BE) / 20 April 2017

Poor exploited voters!

Voters are unpredictable so the prime minister would do well not to count her chickens before they hatch, Le Soir warns:

“Theresa May is seeking the support she believes she will receive from many citizens to consolidate her plans for a hard Brexit within her party and parliament, which will accompany her through the negotiations with the European Union. But the recourse to elections as a tactic for cementing power or gaining a strong majority has backfired on more than one European prime minister in the past. ... Poor people, poor citizens, the playthings of these democrats who manipulate voters to tighten their own grip on power. Is it any wonder that these 'voting herds' sometimes take revenge?”

The Independent (GB) / 19 April 2017

Don't underestimate Labour's chances

Labour hasn't lost the election yet, The Independent also stresses:

“It would be naive to walk blindly into this election saying Labour is set for a sure fire victory, but in a volatile political climate the party must have a chance. Just look at the rapid rise of Mélenchon across the Channel to see how, in the face of right-wing populism, the left can have its moment. Undoubtedly Labour is going into this general election as the underdog. … But if Labour has a chance of winning this election it’ll be by putting bitter differences aside and focusing on what a Labour government could offer; Corbyn’s critics continuing to hound him helps no one.”

Financial Times (GB) / 19 April 2017

Strong mandate for May also good for the EU

If the Tories score a clear victory in the snap election it will give Theresa May more negotiating room in the Brexit negotiations with the EU, the Financial Times argues:

“The decision to call a snap election is intended to free her from unwanted interference from the Remainers among her MPs, just as much as from hardliners on the right. Yet while there are grounds for apprehension, it will be better for both the UK and the EU if Mrs May has the flexibility she needs to negotiate. Crucially, because the next general election will be delayed from 2020 to 2022, she will be better placed to cut deals on issues such as the size of the UK's exit bill or a temporary extension of European Court of Justice jurisdiction, which might otherwise derail talks in their final stages.”

De Volkskrant (NL) / 19 April 2017

Silencing the Eurosceptics

By calling a snap election Theresa may is hoping above all to silence critics in her own ranks, De Volkskrant comments:

“Domestic critics accuses May of fuelling social conflicts and sidelining Brexit opponents with her decision. However, a resounding victory for May could just as well improve the chances of a soft Brexit. With a larger majority in parliament the prime minister will no longer be held hostage to the Eurosceptics within her own party. The same hope is also being voiced in several European capitals. ... Although the risk May is taking is rather small, a lot could happen before June 8. In any case the European political agenda will be all the more charged this year.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) / 19 April 2017

Hypocritical talk about the national interest

The Frankfurter Rundschau doesn't buy Theresa May's argument that a general election is in the nation's best interest:

“The country's leadership is not in danger. Despite disastrous decisions, not least her campaign for a hard Brexit, May brought the Brexit law through the House of Commons unhindered. With the Northern Irish unionists and independents the Conservatives have a stable majority there. ... The Conservatives have only one reason for calling a snap election: their party has a lead of over 20 percentage points against the divided Labour opposition under leader Jeremy Corbyn in the polls. If she keeps half of that lead in the elections May will be able to govern with a stronger majority in parliament. Neither the Liberal Democrats nor Ukip pose a real threat. So the talk about national interest is hypocritical.”

Dnevnik (SI) / 19 April 2017

The Conservatives' latest stunt

Dnevnik also sees the snap election as a purely tactical manoeuvre and takes May and her party to task:

“Just like the Brexit referendum, the Brexit election has nothing to do with the national interest. It only serves the Conservatives' partisan interests. David Cameron called the referendum to avoid division within the party. May is calling the election to consolidate the power of the Conservatives - the party of the soon to be liberated elites. With the Brexit, in which they have invested so much money, xenophobia and lies, they have pulled off a tremendous stunt: they have managed to sell it as a popular rebellion.”

El País (ES) / 19 April 2017

Corbyn has made sure May will win

The snap election could have been a chance to reach a new decision on Brexit if Labour, as the party of the Bremainers, hadn't failed so miserably, El País comments:

“Basically May's decision is an admission that London's break with the rest of the EU won't be a fast, painless, and much less triumphant process for the British, despite all the promises the Brexiteers made during the campaign. … Now would have been the ideal time to tacitly turn these elections into a new referendum on remaining in the EU. But this won't be possible because of the populist and euro-sceptic turn the Labour Party has taken under Jeremy Corbyn. The party that brought together the young, urban, progressive votes - completely anti-Brexit - has turned its back on an important section of its voters and embraced the isolationist discourse. And so here we have the results of the polls: the Conservative Party has a 21 point lead against Corbyn's Labour.”

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