International news outlets focus on Brexit
As the millions of people today cast their vote in the General Election, how is it being seen around the world?
In the Washington Post, Mai’a K. Davis Cross a professor of political science at Northeastern University warns that there is nothing democratic about Brexit, supposedly the defining issue of the election.
Noting that Theresa May called the election because she ‘thought that she had a better chance to win now than in two years’ she continued:
“Like Cameron’s gamble on Brexit, the snap election is backfiring. The dramatic loss of support that May has already experienced, especially in the face of a weak opponent, makes her approach even less legitimate. The only way to start reducing Britain’s democratic deficit would be for her party to lose. A coalition of Labour and the Liberal Democrats, for instance, would bring Parliament back into the process, and this would bode much better for British democracy as Brexit plays out.”
“The democratic deficit will only deepen when the U.K. actually leaves the E.U. Despite Brexit, the British will always need to work closely with the E.U. But when they no longer have a vote in E.U. governance and cannot even sit at the decision-making table in Brussels, they will truly experience what it feels like to follow rules that they do not make. Brexit may have been envisioned as a means of restoring democracy and sovereignty to the British people, but that is far from what is actually happening.”
Summing the campaign up for the Sydney Morning Herald, its Europe Correspondent, Nick Miller, concludes:
“This has been an election of surprises — some comic, some tragic, some deeply bewildering to experienced poll watchers. Indeed, the election itself was a surprise. And now the result of Thursday’s UK general election is too close to call (according to two reputable polls), with a man many dismissed as unelectable within reach of Number 10, and the Conservatives’ new Iron Lady rusting faster than a badly painted gate in a rainstorm.”
Looking ahead to the potential outcomes, he observes:
“Even though Theresa May is best placed to return as prime minister on Friday, if she fails to deliver a big new swag of Conservative seats, knives will be sharpened against her and against the party’s key strategists — including Australian electoral guru Sir Lynton Crosby. She may also be handicapped in the Brexit negotiations that begin in just over a week, if she ends up with a thin majority in the House of Commons that must pass her eventual exit deal.”
Assessing the prospects for Labour meanwhile, he continues:
“If voters shrug off their recent doubts and give May a thumping majority, it would likely be the end of Labour’s experiment with Corbynism. But if she wins by a smaller margin, the result for Labour is uncertain.”
In the Irish Times meanwhile, it is not surprisingly the results in Northern Ireland that are of most concern. Focussing on the key battle between Sinn Fein and the DUP its Northern Editor, Gerry Moriarty, writes:
“Sinn Féin is hoping that the surge in support it experienced in the Assembly election of March will be maintained, thereby strengthening its demands for a Border poll on a united Ireland. In that election it came within one seat of the DUP and fewer than 1,200 votes short of the overall DUP vote.
“Arlene Foster has urged unionists to rally behind the DUP to demonstrate to Sinn Féin that there is little or no prospect of a referendum on unity succeeding.”
Paul Waldie, European Correspondent for the Canadian Globe and Mail newspaper meanwhile focusses on the events that have derailed Theresa May’s campaign. He opens his article by writing:
“When British Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election back in April, her Conservatives had a 20-point lead in the opinion polls and she seemed poised for an overwhelming victory.
“But a pair of terrorist attacks, some blunders by Ms. May, and the resurgence of Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn has turned this into one of the most unusual elections in recent history. Voters head to the polls on Thursday with the outcome far from certain and the Tories’ big lead largely vanished.”
The German news channel, Deutsche Welle speaks of the election in the UK exposing deep divisions. It goes on however to warn:
“May called the election stating that she needed a bigger mandate to negotiate with Europe. If she does not deliver that vastly increased vote-share, she faces the prospect of dissent within her own party.”
France 24 asks if the Conservatives will pay a price for sending the country back to the polls again. In a reminder of the dangers of a snap election it writes:
“The last time the UK held a snap election, in 1974, the Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath chose to campaign on the slogan, ‘Who governs Britain?; The question was framed as a challenge to the then-mighty trade unions. But come election day, the answer from voters was, ‘Not you, Ted’.”
Dwelling over the prospects of a hung parliament, the channel notes,
“Think of the irony: An election designed to deliver a strong mandate for British ‘independence’ from the EU, but leading instead to that most ‘continental’ of concepts, a coalition government. How has it come to this?”
It speaks of Theresa May’s campaign being ‘wretched’ and ‘marked by inconsistencies and spectacular U-turns’, continuing:
“Perhaps the most startling feature of this election campaign is the resurrection of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a soft-spoken veteran backbencher the Tories — and many in his own camp — had dismissed as a leftist loony.”
“While a Conservative victory is still the likeliest outcome, it looks bound to be a Pyrrhic one. May doesn’t need to lose this election to emerge defeated. The whole point of this snap poll was to strengthen her negotiating hand. Anything short of a landslide will necessarily be seen as failure. And even if she wins, her EU counterparts at the negotiating campaign will remember that she wilted under pressure and shied away from debating her opponents.”
Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor at Left Foot ForwardLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.