Monday, June 14, 2004

Europe Has Spoken

The votes are in for the European Parliamentary elections and two things have emerged.

The first is a backlash against the ruling parties, especially in Britain, France, Germany and Italy. In all four countries, voters used this opportunity to register a vote against their national governments. Which itself is something of a problem since that means Europeans didn't really vote on the basis of "European issues" (assuming such issues exist), but on the basis of their national concerns.

And this leads to the second highlight, which is the continuing rise of nationalist, Euroskeptic parties. In Britain, the UK Independence Party, which seeks to remove Britain from the EU entirely, came in third with 20% of the vote. Once again, this does not look good for the EU. Similar results were seen in both the western and eastern nations.

These facts, combined with a low voter turnout of just 45%, suggest the EU has some problems. On the other hand, the centre-right remains the dominant group in the parliament and will continue to hold a functioning majority, with the socialists in second place.

So, when we step back, we see a centre-right group, generally pro-European but also including skeptics, with socialists in second and far-right nationalist parties coming in third. Of course, the label "far-right" is used by the traditionally leftist European media to disparage the nationalists, while no one would dare refer to even the communists, let alone the socialists, as illegitimate because they're "far-left."

Interestingly enough, this pattern, where the centre, the socialists and the nationalists contend for votes has some similar patterns in the current Canadian election. Just as interesting is the fact that similar patterns do not exist in the United States, and we might even say the same thing about Israel. And I would assert this despite those who see the American religious right and the orthodox Israeli parties as examples of fascism. In fact, the United States and Israel are far less prone to fascism than virtually any other country on the planet. But more on this in another post.


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