Wednesday, June 7, 2017

British Election Draws Closer

Prime Minister Theresa May wanted to create a strong Tory majority to begin Brexit negotiations with the EU. When she announced the snap election in April, polls gave Conservatives a 17 percent advantage over Labour. Led by Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party looked hopelessly behind. But as of today, nearly all polls indicate a much closer election, albeit still a win for May. What happened?

Analyses are just beginning to flow from the always prolific British media, and the accuracy of the polls will be a major subplot, but the main factors from this side of the Atlantic appear to be:
  1. Campaigns matter. Reporting over the last eight weeks has described a number of mistakes by May and her party in terms of policy. She also has not shown herself to be a strong candidate, while Corbyn has improved in presentation and adapted the basic socialist “something for everyone” message.
  2. Establishment is still disliked. May and her conservatives represent the establishment and there is still considerable distrust and unfavorable attitudes toward the establishment.
  3. Not easy to control the topic. The Conservatives lost control of the narrative. Brexit and how to protect British interests was supposed to be the topics, but respective platforms of the parties have gotten considerable attention and now terrorism.
  4. The British are still divided. The country’s recent elections have been close. In an era of anger and resentment, getting someone to say yes to a governing majority is difficult.
If May only survives a close vote, her clout and even longevity as leader will be damaged.

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