Given the rising election crescendo in France, the announcement by the UK PM that there would be a general election here on 8th June 2017 caused great surprise.
The previous UK coalition (Tories/Lib Dems) government had following I believe pressure from the Lib Dems, enacted the requirement of fixed term 5 year parliaments but rather like the Lib Dems' previous proposals to reform the British first past the post electoral system, the fixed term requirement, was not supported when the chips were down.
Of course Brexit considerations were given by the government as the basis for calling an early general election. A fresh five year term should strengthen the government's negotiating hand with the 27 EU members, as the new election will now result in the two year exit provision laid down by the EU for departure, not expiring shortly before the UK government became embroiled in another general election.
In reality perhaps the risk of 30 or so MPs having to face criminal proceedings based on alleged overspending during the 2015 election, meant that there was little practical alternative for the Tory government in any event. Presumably those who win seats in 2017 will not be affected by what may have occurred during the 2015 election campaigns? The overspending seems to concern the cost of buses being borne nationally rather than locally - if so, wrongful though that would have been the issue seems hardly of Watergate proportions.
The Labour Party being in complete disarray over Europe, its leadership and other issues, the main anti Brexit parties would appear to be the Lib Dems nationally plus the SNP in Scotland.
All this could be viewed as somewhat depressing but for the fact that the French presidential election campaign involves four main candidates, none of whom fill one with confidence and of whom two at least, appear far more extreme than the British UKIP and Labour leaders are in this country.
Add to that the choice faced only 100 days or so back by our American friends of Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump it is clear that democratic politics is undergoing rapid change at present in some countries.
The UK political parties have yet to publish their new election manifestos so more later.