February 11, 2019

Nancy Pelosi and Theresa May are Leading on Borrowed Time

Prime Minister Theresa May and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, two female politicians on either side of the Atlantic, each managed to stave off challenges to their leadership from members of their own parties last December, but only after both made commitments to step down within the next five years. Along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s pledge to not seek reelection in 2021, these two promises—the political equivalent of self-imposed expiration dates—mean that almost an entire generation of the West’s most recognizable stateswomen will exit the world stage in just the next few years. Now, with Pelosi having negotiated a temporary end to the partial government shutdown and May attempting again to pass a final Brexit deal, it is worth remembering that both women must contend with fundamental problems at the core of the power they are wielding to lead.

As the Conservative Party’s members of the British Parliament gathered in December to vote on a no-confidence ballot that would have forced Theresa May to step down, the prime minister promised a room full of her own party’s backbenchers that she would resign before the next parliamentary elections in Britain. Even then, 117 of her colleagues voted against her. While it is hard to know whether May’s promise to eventually step aside swayed the forty-odd members whose votes made the difference, one thing is clear: her decision is nearly unprecedented. Her four living predecessors in the premiership, all of whom are men, were either rejected by British voters at the ballot box or left office on their own terms. None of them were forced to set expiration dates on their own time in office to survive challenges from their own parties.

Read the full article in The National Interest.

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Policy
    • July 15, 2024
    For Putin, the EU Is a Bigger Threat Than NATO

    Russia, by aiming to prevent the EU’s enlargement and impose its own control over Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, is on a campaign to reassert its imperial idea in Europe....

    By Nicholas Lokker & Kate Johnston

  • Podcast
    • July 13, 2024
    U.S. officials warn of Russia's sabotage operations in Europe

    NPR’s Scott Simon speaks with national security expert, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, after officials warn that Russia is stepping up a campaign of covert sabotage across Europe. Li...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor

  • Commentary
    • Inkstick
    • July 8, 2024
    NATO and the EU Need to Get Real on Ukrainian Membership

    At NATO’s landmark 75th anniversary summit in Washington, a key issue on the agenda will be the nature of the alliance’s commitment to Ukraine’s future membership. Following v...

    By Nicholas Lokker

  • Podcast
    • July 5, 2024
    Kurt Volker and Douglas Lute Discuss the Upcoming NATO Washington Summit

    From July 9th to 11th, NATO will hold its historic 75th-anniversary summit in Washington, DC. On the sidelines, CNAS and other think tanks will host the NATO Public Forum. Tho...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor & Jim Townsend

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia