Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Britain has called a relatively early election for July 4. He could have gone to the polls as late as the end of January next year, with November this year an attractive alternative.

Who knows? But the likelihood is that Sunak wants to get his political suffering out of the way.

Labour, under Keir Starmer, is well ahead in the opinion polls. So a change of government, after the Conservative Party has occupied 10 Downing Street for 14 years, seems all but inevitable. Sunak is a very wealthy man. And he has reached the pinnacle of British political life – albeit, it would seem, for a short time.

The Conservative MPs who stand to lose their jobs might have appreciated more time in office. But election dates are a prime minister’s call.

It’s the same in Australia. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese alone makes the decision as to when elections will be held.

Unlike Sunak, Albanese is not staring political death in the face. The Labor Party is ahead in Newspoll, and the Prime Minister is not experiencing the kind of day-to-day difficulties that have afflicted his British counterpart.

Moreover, Albanese has an incentive not to rush to the polls. It’s named the Greens. The Prime Minister told the Breakfast program on FIVEAA in Adelaide on May 20: “I think three years is too short; I just wish it was four years.”

Writing in News Corp newspapers on May 22, Joe Hildebrand reported Albanese having said much the same to him. The Prime Minister added: “What we’re focused on is the need to provide that cost-of-living relief. We have an election date in 2025 but that’s a fair way off; now we’re two-thirds of the way through” a term.

At this stage, it seems likely that Albanese will remain Prime Minister after the next election. But he might be presiding over a minority government, dependent on the support of the Greens, other minor parties, the teals and independents – or a combination of these.

There are better ways of celebrating Christmas than recovering from having had recent dealings with the likes of Greens leader Adam Bandt and his team – along with some “wealthy socialists” from among the teals.

Obviously, Albanese could still go to an early election – which is probably best defined as one before mid-December.

After all, he told FIVEAA’s David Penberthy that May 2025 is the “anticipated date”, and told Hildebrand “we have an election due in 2025”.

These are carefully chosen words, that’s all. Once 2025 comes around, the concept of an early election will be extant. A January election is virtually impossible – since it would be contested between New Year’s Day and Australia Day.

February also seems unlikely since Western Australia is due to go to the polls on March 9. Any time between the middle of March and May 24 (by which time an election has to be held, otherwise the dates for the House of Representatives and Senate election will take place on different dates) is not an early election.

Having an election a mere two months off a 36-month term could not realistically be presented as an early election.

But there are also some good political reasons for a March poll. Treasurer Jim Chalmers is proud of the fact that he has presented two surplus budget estimates of $21.1bn (actual) in 2022-23 and $9.3bn (estimate) in 2023-24. However, after this, there are estimated deficits extending to 2027-28 and perhaps beyond. This despite the fact that Australia’s terms of trade (ie, the price we receive for exports as against the price paid for imports) are perhaps the best in living memory. Ideally, this should be surplus-building time.

An election held before the 2025 budget scheduled for May would make it possible for the Albanese government to state that the budget is in surplus – rather than reporting long-term future deficits.

In the meantime, on the domestic front, Labor faces ongoing difficulties. This week the Australian Energy Market Operator has warned of possible electricity blackouts in NSW and Victoria between 2024 and 2027, as well as South Australia in 2026-27.

As Duncan Evans reported in The Australian on May 21, there are delays in the construction of the transmission line between Robertson in South Australia and Wagga Wagga in NSW. In the meantime, the NSW government has moved to keep the Eraring coal-fired power station open for two years beyond its intended closure in 2025.

Writing in The Australian on May 22, Robert Gottliebsen analysed how the Albanese government’s decision to impose a 30 per cent tax on superannuation members with a balance of more than $3m has potential unintended consequences. It’s capable of adversely affecting, among others, small farmers and small businesses along with small start-up enterprises and some public servants.

And then there are the ongoing cost-of-living problems. Interest rates might decline before an early election held this year. But they might remain the same or go up.

And then there is inflation. A temporary reduction in energy bills over the next two years will do little to reduce the underlying rate of inflation, which the Reserve Bank will look at when determining interest rates. Nor will it have a significant link to prevailing prices – at a time of increasing supply costs along with the cost of labour and increased labour market regulation.

Many in the Canberra press gallery are dismissive of Peter Dutton and the Coalition in opposition. But Dutton has managed to unite the Liberal Party and to maintain good working relations with the Nationals. Consequently, the Coalition is in relatively good shape.

Moreover, Dutton works hard, is strong on policy and really wants to win. These are the prerequisites of most successful leaders who win government from opposition.

As the saying goes, it is foolish to make political predictions, especially about the future. But Dutton’s performance is possibly another factor why an election before next year is unlikely.

Albanese would not want to be accused of going early for the fear of losing. Sunak, on the other hand, faces no such problem.