You Know What Europe Needs? Another Election

And now, it’s got one.
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By ukhomeoffice [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By ukhomeoffice [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Since the end of the season of electoral earthquakeslast year, the people going to the polls have been positively reassuring. I mean, sure, 46% of people in Hitler’s homeland voted to make his ideological successor their president, but unlike in the United States, that’s not enough to win a guy the top job. In the Netherlands, the virulently anti-immigrant, anti-European Union party is only the second-biggest in the country following its vote last month. And the Germans may have had enough of Angela Merkel, but are looking to her socialist coalition partners for change, rather than to anything to her right.

The global political establishment has at least one big potential sinkhole to avoid—the election of Marine Le Pen as the combined Donald Trump and Brexit of France. And that Greek thing might still blow up the whole game. But things are quieting down. At least, British Prime Minister Theresa May hopes so, because she’s going to send her countrymen to the polls for the second time in less than a year and hope that they don’t do something as stupid this time as they did last time.

Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain on Tuesday called for a snap election for June 8, clearly anxious that her thin majority in Parliament would weaken her hand in complicated negotiations on the British exit from the European Union.

Of course, May has some things working in her favor that her colleagues would rightly kill for, namely: No opposition. The British appetite for making Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, a delightfully rumpled anachronism, prime minister is about as great as for a Polish plumber on every block. This is great news, or not great news, depending on which market you’re looking at.

Sterling soared to its highest level in more than six months in a wildly volatile trading session after Prime Minister Theresa May surprised markets by calling a snap general election in June….

Stocks, however, were rattled by the announcement. The FTSE 100, which tends to be inversely correlated to the pound as around 70pc of its constituents are dollar earners, suffered its worst day since the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote.

Never mind, it’s just a flesh wound. Nothing that can’t be healed by the tonic offered by every election: Wishful thinking.

Investors calculated – counter-intuitively at first glance – that a bigger Tory majority in the Commons, if that’s what follows, will mean a softer form of Brexit. This argument was best expressed by Deutsche Bank’s analysts, who reckon the election is “a game-changer” for the pound and the Brexit negotiations. A bigger majority would set Theresa May free from the “unrealistic timetable” set by the eurosceptics in her party, they argue.

Theresa May Calls for New Election in Britain, Seeking Stronger ‘Brexit’ Mandate [NYT]
Pound soars to six-month high after Theresa May calls general election, but £46bn wiped off FTSE 100 in worst day since Brexit vote [Telegraph]
Investors think the election means a softer Brexit – are they right? [Guardian]

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