When European politicians bet big - and lost | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 09.06.2017
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When European politicians bet big - and lost

British Prime Minister Theresa May took a gamble calling for snap elections three years early and paid a heavy price. But she's not the first European politician to see a big bet backfire.

British Prime Minister Theresa May isn't the only European politician to take a big gamble on elections and end up kicking herself over the result. DW looks back at other times politicians might have wished they stuck with the devil they knew.

May suffered one of the most dramatic reversals in recent politics. As UK parliamentary election results came in on Friday, it became clear her attempt to expand her majority in British Parliament backfired. The loss has left May in a difficult position with a limited number of, for her, bad options. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, as well as other politicians, already called for her resignation. But she appears ready to accept the support of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party in forming a minority government.

Britain, 2016

Großbritannien Brexit (Reuters/N. Hall)

Time was up for David Cameron after the UK voted to leave the European Union

May's predecessor, David Cameron, also bet his political career on a vote whose result saw him leave 10 Downing Street. Last year, he asked voters to decide whether the UK should remain a part of the European Union and pleaded with them to stay in the bloc. When nearly 52 percent of voters said they would rather leave the EU, Cameron saw himself out of the prime minister's office.

May inherited the contentious task of breaking the UK off from the EU, and, in part, it was the difficulty of that job that led her to call for the election whose results are currently burdening her.

Italy, 2016

Italien Ministerpräsident Matteo Renzi in Rai TV (picture alliance/dpa/G. Lami)

Renzi didn't get enough people to vote "si" and ended up saying "see you later"

Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi also saw himself forced from office after tying his career to a vote on amending the southern European country's constitution in changes. Just over 59 percent of the public voted against the reform that would have initiated the largest changes in Italy since the end of the monarchy in 1946.

Though he lost the vote and ended up resigning from the prime minister's office, Renzi is still involved in Italian politics as the head of the Democratic Party.

Scotland, 2014

Bildergalerie Schottland Unabhängigkeit (Getty Images/J. J Mitchell)

Scottish voters chose to stay in the UK last time - will they be asked what they think again next year?

After years of back and forth, voters in Scotland were given the choice of remaining a part of the United Kingdom in 2014. With over 84 percent turnout, the highest recorded for an election or referendum in the United Kingdom, 55.3 percent of people in Scotland chose to remain in the UK.

It was a decision that some there could be second-guessing following the 2016 Brexit vote as 62 percent of people in Scotland voted to remain in the EU. Scottish National Party leader and First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon announced a bid to hold a second independence referendum in 2018 - though it's not yet clear if the vote will go ahead.

Germany, 2005

Angela Merkel und Gerhard Schröder (picture-alliance/AP Photo/F. Reiss)

Merkel took over from Schröder in 2005 and is running again in 2017

In Germany, former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder orchestrated a vote of confidence in July 2005 - one he aimed to lose. While that worked the way the Social Democrat intended, his defeat in the September 2005 elections was not likely part of his plan. In a difficult position after the SPD lost a key state election, Schröder, despite his party trailing conservative Christian parties by about 20 percent in opinion polls, had hoped to bank on his personal popularity to earn a new mandate. 

In the end, the SPD finished just 1 percent behind the Christian Democratic Union, but that didn't prove enough to save Schröder's coalition with the Greens party and Angela Merkel entered the Chancellery with the help of the free-market liberal FDP. It's a post Merkel will look to defend again in this year's elections.

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