11 June 2009

The EU elections (2)

Results are now in for the European Union elections (background here). Across Europe, minor nationalist and anti-Islamist parties (widely described in the European media as "far-right", though most of them are anything but), made gains, reflecting voters' exasperation with the unresponsiveness of their leaders.

Some of these parties aren't looking so "minor" any more. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders's anti-Islam party won 17% of the vote, coming in (barely) second behind the ruling Christian Democratic Alliance with 19.9% (note that most European countries have several medium-sized parties besides the "big two", so they do not typically have a near-50-50 split of almost all votes as is normal in the US). Wilders also favors limiting the power of the EU and is a strong supporter of Israel.

In Britain, the Labour party (currently in power) got 2,381,760 votes, its mainstream rival the Conservative party got 4,198,394 votes -- and the UKIP, a "fringe" party dedicated to removing Britain from the EU (and which opposes "unlimited immigration") got 2,498,226 votes (source). If the same results were replicated in an actual national election, which must occur in Britain by next June and could be much sooner, this would presumably create a Parliament in which the Conservatives were in power and the UKIP, not Labour, was the main opposition party.

To look at it another way, all the explicitly anti-EU parties (all of them considered "fringe" parties) combined got 4,121,983 votes (source), almost as many as the Conservatives.

The rejection of Labour cannot be explained by a Europe-wide anti-incumbent surge, since moderate-conservative ruling parties (still "left-wing" by American standards) saw gains in Germany, France, and Italy, despite the sex scandal embroiling Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi.

Parties with roots in the genuinely fascist, racist, and anti-Semitic part of the political spectrum also made gains; Britain's BNP, for example, won 943,598 votes (discussion of the BNP and how to deal with it here, here, and here). Rather than indicating that the British population includes almost a million neo-Nazis, this result should be taken as showing the lengths to which people will go to send a message to the political establishment: less Islam, less EU.

The political establishment now needs to heed that message. If it doesn't, don't be surprised if a year from now several European countries actually end up with governments headed by what a few years ago were considered "fringe" parties; it's conceivable that the UKIP and Geert Wilders could actually win elections in Britain and the Netherlands respectively, for example, if mainstream parties insist on ignoring their voters' concerns.


Anonymous Ross said...

"despite the sex scandal embroiling Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi.".

I get the feeling that 'despite' should be replaced with 'because'.

This is probably the first European election where there has been a genuine continental wide trend, the decline of the centre left, rather than disparate national trends.

11 June, 2009 23:23  
Anonymous NickM said...

Geert Wilder's lot are not fascists at all. In fact one of their major beefs is that Islamicization will rob Holland of it's traditionally liberal values. The last Dutchman, before Wilders to stick his head above the parapet and be deemed by the likes of the BBC "far right" was Pim Fortuyn who was openly and flamboyently gay.

Our own dear BNP are utter loons mind.

Wilders is of course banned from the UK by that monstrous moo Smith. Quite how it came to this is beyond me.

12 June, 2009 00:26  
Anonymous Keith said...

You need to grasp that the Euro Elections are conducted by Proportional Representation and Parliamentary Elections are by Plurality ( in the UK ). So UKIP are not going to form a Government. Most people don't vote in Euro Elections anyway so they must be treated with caution.

12 June, 2009 13:31  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Well, if the UKIP were to get more votes than any other single party, it would presumably get more MPs as well. That's what I had in mind. An unlikely prospect, I suppose. Depends how annoyed people get at the mainstream parties.

12 June, 2009 14:45  

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