Predicting the outcome of elections is something that not only professionals in the world of politics dabble in, but it’s something everyone talks about. This year has been one of the most unpredictable in political history. There have been events that confused the most accurate of political analysts, though two major elections take the cake for 2016.
Starting back in the summer, the United Kingdom (U.K.) held a referendum to leave the European Union (EU). The EU, as we know it today, was established in 1993 as a way to keep peace and bring closer ties between the countries that make up Europe.
The EU started with six countries, but today the union has 28 member states. The EU has remained a strong social and economic force around the world. The U.K. joined the union in the very beginning and has played an active role ever since.
After much pressure from the people who felt the U.K. no longer held power in the EU, Prime Minister David Cameron called for a referendum election to leave the EU, or “Brexit” as it would be called. Cameron, along with the Conservative Party, led the “Stay Campaign,” while more nationalist parties led by other led the “Leave Campaign.”
Many political analysts from the entire world predicted that the referendum would result in a decision to remain part of EU, as Britain has always played an active role and been with the EU since the very beginning. It seemed the positives for staying definitely outweighed the negatives.
On the evening of June 23, when it was reported that the majority had voted to leave the EU, people everywhere, including in Britain itself, were blown away. David Cameron had to leave office as he was strongly for remaining in the EU, and new Prime Minister Theresa May was thrust into power in a confusing time.
Not many people had predicted that the U.K. would actually leave the EU, but they did. While Brexit will be a slow and painful process, the people of Britain spoke, and now it’s up to the U.K. Parliament to listen and follow through.
Traveling back across the pond to the U.S., we showed Britain what unpredictable politics really was on Nov. 8. The world was in shock as the results of the much-anticipated 2016 Presidential Election started rolling in. It was almost unreal to most of the world to watch Donald Trump become the new President-elect of the U.S.
From the beginning of his campaign over a year ago, professionals shrugged Trump’s candidacy off and focused on other party favorites like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Even when Trump was filling arenas across the country, analysts called it “hype” and predicted he wouldn’t be able to snatch the nomination from the other candidates.
The news media followed him hard, delving into every skeleton that filled his closet, focusing on every outlandish comment and magnifying every fault. When Trump accepted the Republican nomination and Hillary Clinton took the Democratic one, people around the world were calling these two the worst candidates in American history. Though people still felt that Hillary was the lesser of the two evils and would win the election.
But in a shocking twist to what felt like the never-ending battle for the White House, Donald Trump rose victorious. Leaving people around the world confused, and in America leaving some people angrier than ever. But whether we like it or not, this is how American democracy works and how it has always worked and now we must forward and accept the results.
In today’s world we can use history and data to help us predict what the outcome of political situations will be. If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that when it comes to democracy and the power of the people, anything can happen.