• David Butler
  • Martin Westlake


In David Hare’s The Absence of War (1993), George Jones, the fictitious leader of the opposition, only realises a snap General Election has been called when a Special Branch security guard suddenly appears in his House of Commons office — the Prime Minister, it becomes clear, has pulled a fast one. The choice of the General Election date is an important weapon in a British Prime Minister’s armoury, but there can be no element of surprise with the fixed cycle of European elections. In such circumstances, political parties, like athletes in a track event, may seek advantage by breaking early (perhaps with the publication of their manifesto) or by holding back until the last lap, but the only real surprises can come from policy issues, electoral tactics or external events.


Asylum Seeker Election Campaign Party Leader Local Election Conservative Party 
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Copyright information

© David Butler and Martin Westlake 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Butler
    • 1
  • Martin Westlake
    • 2
  1. 1.Nuffield CollegeOxfordUK
  2. 2.European Economic and Social CommitteeBrusselsBelgium

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