do not mention the war

The Wobbly Lady: what the German papers think about the Election 2017

In Britain on June 10, 2017 at 16:12

The people have voted and have given the outgoing and continuing British government a vote of no confidence. That much is clear. Theresa May has gambled on extending her majority in parliament in order to strengthen her hand in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations. That gamble has backfired spectacularly. The Tories lost their majority and Labour came within a couple of yards of getting into Downing Street. Why the campaign of May went off the rails and whether Corbyn would be a better Prime Minister, should not be the aim of this piece. Rather, a press review of the German press is aimed to be presented here. After Brexit Germany is most likely the most powerful country in the EU27. Therefore it is of particular importance how the political commentators regard the general election of 2017.

In a video comment in Der Spiegel, Kevin Hagen has analysed the campaign of the Conservative Party and Theresa May and concluded that she lost her focus during the weeks leading up to the polls. Her main topic, Brexit, played no role ever since the manifesto was published. That was due to the ‘dementia tax’ and her performance in the public. May did not exist outside a carefully preserved and caressed bubble.

Die Welt sees the result as problematic for the Brexit negotiations. A weak British government could lead the EU to soften their position which in return could be beneficial for the UK. However, the report states that the planned schedule is at risk. There is just under a year and a half left for the talks to be finished. With an unstable government that cannot rely on a majority this is likely to fail from the writers point of view.

Der Tagesspiegel puts the result in line with the previous election of 2015 and the referendum 2016. There is no clear idea how the Conservative Party wants to proceed from here. Nor has it been clearer after the shock result from last year. David Cameron is partly to blame for this message as he promised this referendum only to walk away whistling once he saw he would not get away with his lax attitude towards Europe. Like Cameron, May gambled and lost. Now her and her party look like a besotted poodle.

The headline ‘Mayday’ as it was used in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung probably best described the situation. Going from a position of strength to one where May relies upon a small and ultra conservative party is a sign that Britain has gone from strong and stable to weak and wobbly over the course of two years. The writer concludes that it is possibly better with May at the helm for the time being simply in order to provide some stability.

There is no Schadenfreude to be found in the papers looked at. Rather, there are questions as to how the British have come to this point. The slogan of a ‘strong and stable’ government wasn’t even valid going into this election, therefore May’s logic was proven wrong. That she continues as Prime Minister is possibly the only sign of stability the papers reviewed here largely agree. That her situation nonetheless resembles a shambles, most papers agree upon.

  1. […] a majority in parliament. In fact at home her position has been significantly weakened since the general election earlier this month. Which plays into the hands of the EU. The demands from the continent are clear: […]


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