the December 12 elections, a risky bet for Boris Johnson

The Prime Minister finally pulled out on Tuesday the organization of the ballot he had been defending for several weeks. Without guarantee to obtain the necessary majority to carry out the divorce with the European Union.

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Boris Johnson in front of the House of Commons in London, October 29.
Boris Johnson in front of the House of Commons in London, October 29. UK PARLIAMENT / JESSICA TAYLOR / AP

The fourth attempt was the good one. On Tuesday, October 29, after three failed votes in recent weeks (including one the day before), Boris Johnson finally managed to clinch an early general election. They should take place on December 12, as he wished. If the Lords are going in the same direction as the deputies, which is likely – they were to consider the government proposal on Wednesday, October 30 – the British will be called to the polls for the third time in three years (after the referendum of 2016 and the 2017 general elections), not to mention the European elections in May.

The Prime Minister held on that date of December 12: it falls on a Thursday, traditional polling day in the United Kingdom. It was especially one of the only ones available for an election before Christmas, since the British Parliament must be dissolved no later than twenty-five days before the vote, that Westminster needs a few more days to dispatch. current affairs and that beyond mid-December, the public places (schools, etc.) available to vote are mobilized by the end of year celebrations.

Get out of the rut

It has been almost a century since the British did not vote this season: the precedent goes back to the general election of 1923, held on December 6th. Voting is usually done at the end of the spring: political commentators have reiterated in recent days how much the British winter – humidity and lack of sunshine – could affect voter turnout. That 12 December coincides with the first day of a European Council in Brussels, probably having Brexit on the agenda, did not, however, elicit any comment, neither in Westminster nor in the media of the country, entirely turned towards this issue of domestic policy.

Boris Johnson was at risk of total paralysis, with no parliamentary majority and with a freshly renegotiated divorce agreement, but with growing resistance among MPs. These elections, which his special adviser Dominic Cummings had been advocating for weeks, allow him to get out of the rut. Will they help him regain this absolute majority that the Conservatives lost in the 2017 ballot? Above all: will they help the country to break the Brexit impasse?

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If he wins his bet, the current tenant of 10 Downing Street will be able to retry a ratification of his divorce agreement in the British Parliament. Perhaps even before 31 January 2020, the new "Deadline" of Brexit formally accepted by Europeans, Tuesday.


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