A country once again buffeted by terrorism will go to the polls Thursday in the latest test of the relationship between mass violence, carried out with the most everyday of tools, and democratic debate over security and ties to the outside world. Saturday’s attack, which left seven people dead, marked the third major terrorist strike in Britain in as many months — the first unfolding steps from Parliament and the second outside a packed pop concert in Manchester. Each was claimed by the Islamic State. The latest assault, in which three suspects mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge before slashing their way through a nearby market, inserts an unpredictable new dynamic — the fear and uncertainty sowed by terrorism — into this week’s contest, which was already tightening.
Once projected to end in a landslide for Theresa May, the Conservative prime minister who called the election in a bid to consolidate her majority, the race has appeared less lopsided in recent days. Polls suggest it could even offer a lifeline to Jeremy Corbyn, the firebrand Labour chief whose leadership had been in doubt as his party struggled to gain traction.
The mass-casualty event will jolt the election even if it does not transform its outcome, said Edward Fieldhouse, a political scientist at the University of Manchester.