Macron and Sunak's Early Election Gambles: A Tale of Political Strategy and Risk

Madison Young

Updated Monday, July 8, 2024 at 8:50 AM CDT

Macron and Sunak's Early Election Gambles: A Tale of Political Strategy and Risk

Macron's Early Election Call

French President Emmanuel Macron made a surprising move by calling for early elections, originally scheduled for 2027, just two years into his five-year term. The primary motivation behind this decision was to counter the far-right's recent strong performance in the French European elections. Macron believed that a higher voter turnout in the legislative elections would reject the far-right, which had performed well in the low-turnout European elections.

This strategic gamble was based on the assumption that the far-right's success was more of a protest vote rather than genuine support for their governance. By calling the election on short notice, Macron aimed to limit the far-right's ability to use fake news and anger-based campaigns. The early elections ultimately proved Macron's assumption correct, as the far-right RN came out third in seats, behind the left coalition and Macron's party. This outcome squashed the idea that the RN had legitimate support to govern France.

Sunak's Early Election Strategy

In contrast, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's early election was only a few months ahead of schedule, compared to Macron's decision to call elections years early. Sunak's strategy was more about damage control due to growing public dissatisfaction with his party. The UK Tories had been in power for a long time and had shown consistent failure, leading to increasing public discontent.

Sunak's gamble was that losing early would allow his party to stabilize sooner rather than facing a longer road back to power. Some believe that Sunak's early election call was motivated by personal reasons rather than a strategic political move. The campaigns leading up to Brexit, based on lies and false promises, had caused even die-hard Tory voters to turn away. Sunak hoped that an early election loss would give his party the opportunity to regroup and address the issues that had led to their unpopularity.

Voter Turnout and Political Dynamics

In the French European elections, voter turnout was just over 51%, and only a portion of that voted for the far-right. Macron's strategy involved calling the election on short notice, limiting the far-right's ability to mobilize their base effectively. This was a calculated risk, as the EU elections and polling indicated that the far-right party was positioned to win a majority and form a government. Macron believed that people voted for the far-right as a protest vote and did not actually want them to govern the country.

The early elections proved Macron's assumption correct, but the new parliament's ability to form a government will determine if Macron's strategy truly worked. Macron faced a deadlock in parliament, which could still benefit the RN's presidential campaign in 2027 if no compromise is reached. Additionally, Macron underestimated the threat from the left, which united and caused him to lose his majority. This miscalculation highlighted the risks associated with his early election gamble.

Comparing Macron and Sunak's Outcomes

While Macron's early election strategy was aimed at neutralizing the far-right threat, it also exposed his vulnerability to a united leftist alliance. Before the elections, the left was divided, and Macron hoped to get a supermajority by positioning himself against the far-right. However, his arrogance and hubris led to his downfall, as he was blindsided by the leftist alliance.

On the other hand, Sunak's early election call was a more straightforward attempt at damage control. By losing early, Sunak hoped to give his party a chance to stabilize and rebuild before the next election cycle. While this strategy may not have been as bold or risky as Macron's, it demonstrated a pragmatic approach to addressing his party's declining popularity.

Final Thoughts

Both Macron and Sunak's early election calls were significant political gambles with varying motivations and outcomes. Macron's strategy was a high-stakes attempt to counter the far-right, while Sunak's decision was driven by the need to manage public dissatisfaction and stabilize his party. The success of these gambles will ultimately depend on the ability of their respective parties to navigate the political landscape and address the underlying issues that led to the early elections.

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