What Mandate for Theresa May?

LONDON – British Prime Minister Theresa May doesn’t exactly have a reputation for unpredictability. A cautious and disciplined politician – a vicar’s daughter, no less – May doesn’t play around with the truth, nor does she take unnecessary risks or stray beyond a comfort zone populated by a tightknit group of advisers. So when she insisted, repeatedly, that she would not hold an election before the next due date, in 2020, she was believed unreservedly.

Then, last week, May called for a snap general election in June. Surprise.

May’s change of heart certainly seemed out of character. But it was hardly the political bombshell that many have made it out to be. In fact, in many ways, it was a logical move. After all, opinion polls put May’s Conservative Party some 20 percentage points ahead of the opposition Labour Party.

It should come as no surprise that British leaders usually choose to hold an election when their party is most likely to win it. And May – whose government is about to launch tough negotiations with the European Union over Britain’s departure – is expected to win big. Even if the pollsters are wrong and the election is no walk in the park for Conservatives, they are overwhelmingly likely to come out on top.