In the quagmire that is European politics, a new dominant political figure is beginning to emerge strongly: British Prime Minister Theresa May. This is, perhaps, because all leaders appear during times of crisis.
The representative system of the United Kingdom rests on three pillars: the Crown, Parliament and the will of the majority. Any disruption to this delicate balance will lead to a crisis with terrible repercussions, as has been the case in the past.
The result of Brexit was earth-shattering, not just within the context of the European Union but also within the United Kingdom itself.
There were reactions, and also attempts to mitigate the significance of the citizens’ verdict. Despite these objections, May faithfully followed procedures – in the tradition of Britain.
And with that we arrived at the announcement of snap elections by the British prime minister – after she first informed Queen Elizabeth II.
Some people may argue that May’s decision is nothing but a tactical maneuver. In politics strategy can be necessary, but it can also be devastating when it serves as an end in itself.
What is all the more interesting is that while May was never an avid supporter of Brexit, she made it clear when she announced early elections that she is addressing the hard core voters of the Conservative, which, for decades, was intensely euroskeptic, and when given the opportunity during the referendum, seized the day to liberate itself.
May didn’t attempt to appeal to society to come together. This is because she understands as a politician that the power of the party she leads stems from her harmonious relationship with the hard core. Without this core, the party will be torn by centrifugal forces.
But a politician never identifies with the hard core because he or she knows very well that the mission is – having first won the party’s confidence – ultimately, to make it a driving force behind the nation in the ever-changing environment of each time. It was this perennial enfranchisement of the hard core that has made the Tories – the later Conservatives – into such a durable party. Their first opponents, the Whigs, vanished, then it was the turn of the liberals to make way, while Labour is disintegrating.
The daughter of a vicar and a graduate of a model state school, May is attempting a new synthesis. It is unknown if she will succeed, but she is the only interesting political leader in Europe right now.