European voters fire a warning shot over the heads of their political elites

From the excellent and internationally savvy Howie Klein at Down With Tyranny, I offer this analysis of the recent continent-wide election of delegates to the European Parliament in Brussels.

These elections were held in over a four-day period, and over 700 total delegates were chosen.

From Wikipedia, some background on the 2014 EU Parliament elections. Note the role of the “Eurozone crisis” mentioned in this introduction (my emphasis and paragraphing):

The ongoing Eurozone crisis, an offshoot of the Great Recession, started several months after the last Parliament election in June 2009Although it affected most EU member states, the hardest-hit economies were those of southern Europe: Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Spain, Portugal, but also Ireland.

Among other reasons, harsh austerity measures significantly affected the public approval of EU leadership. The percentage of Greeks approving the EU leadership decreased from 32% in 2010 to 19% in 2013, while in Spain, the approval dwindled more than a half from 59% in 2008 to 27% in 2013. Overall, only four of the 27 members countries approved the EU leadership. 

Peter S. Goodman suggests that “distrust about the treaties and conventions that hold together modern Europe appear at an all-time high.” “Europe’s establishment parties are widely expected to suffer their worst performance” since 1979, with the three mainstream parties (EPP, PES, ALDE) expected to collectively gain 63% of the vote, a 10% loss since 2009.

This is the context of the latest election results. Now Howie Klein:

So What Happened In Europe Yesterday? Voters Fired A Warning Shot Over The Heads Of Their Political Elites

The natives are restless… in Europe. There were elections in 21 countries for the European Parliament’s 751 seats yesterday, the culmination of a 4-day process including all 28 member countries. Early reports indicated inordinately large numbers of voters didn’t bother going to the polls.

Shades of U.S. voting patterns. Klein explains this as Europeans seeing the Brussels Parliament elections as less important than the national ones. Thus, parties that gains seats in the E.U. election would not necessarily gain seats in a national one.

Still, let’s look at some of those E.U. results. Klein (my emphasis and paragraphing):

As expected, opposition parties– whether on the left or the right– fared well, as voters took an opportunity to slap their governments around a little.

European Parliament Constituencies

European Parliament Constituencies

France’s fascist party, the overtly racist National Front, came in first with a stunning quarter of the vote, President François Hollande’s Socialists in third place with 14%. The abstention rate was around 60%.

In Greece, Syriza, the anti-fascist, solidly working people’s party came out ahead. Greece’s fascist party, New Dawn, barely took a third of the votes Syriza did.

Of course, the fat, content Germans– where the fake-left party and the mainstream conservatives have a coalition anyway– were the big exceptions. In Holland, Geert Wilders’ fascist party also ate sand, coming in 4th behind mainstream, anti-fascist parties.

And in the U.K, where only 33.8% of voters even bothered, the racist and fascist-oriented UKIP took the most seats, beating both the Conservatives and Labor and all but annihilating the Lib-Dems (which is now left with just one seat). In fact, the Greens beat the Lib-Dems as well!

Austria’s fascist party, the FPÖ, saw big results— around 20%, up from their 7.3% haul in 2009. Hungary was worst of all. 53% went to the fascist Orban party and 15% went for that country’s outright Nazi/teabaggers, the Jobbik.

As Klein notes later in the piece, the situation in Hungary is particularly dire. I’ve written about it here and here. It hasn’t gotten better.

It’s well understood that austerity is a gift that enables fascists — well understood by everyone, that is, except the Elite Protection Squad that runs all of these countries for their benefit and not ours, including our own. You would think that Europe, of all places, would understand its own history.


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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22 Responses to “European voters fire a warning shot over the heads of their political elites”

  1. CorinaGingerovo says:

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  2. pvequalkt says:

    No. I blame voters who are stupid. The rank and file workers have elected money servants as their union leaders and then contribute/work/vote as their elected leaders suggest. You connect the dots.
    And who is this “we” who are organizing all this labor? I don’t dispute that labor can be the catalyst toward positive change. But where is this catalyzing agent? A tiny step has been seen in Seattle’s city council… but organized labor had bupkus to do with it. It was a blue city voting against lesser evilism and FOR someone with a modicum of appeal and sincerity. And it took 34 years after the “Reagan revolution” for ONE such person to gain a seat.
    When hundreds of such people sit in city and county councils, then maybe we’ll have something. Will labor lead? You say yes. I have long hoped yes. But I don’t see it.
    It’s not like they didn’t have lots of open doors recently with “Occupy” everywhere… and even ersatz uprisings in WI and a couple other places.

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  4. Bill_Perdue says:

    You blame workers, calling them stupid.

    We organize them, knowing that they and no one else has the power to create change and knowing that events will overcome their inexperience.

    The imperial presidency, to be accurate, began with FDR, not Cheney.

  5. pvequalkt says:

    “movement”? well, if the Seattle Socialist on the $15 minimum wage platform goes nationwide, maybe. But the media, even IN Seattle, has a virtual blackout on her/them. And simply raising the minimum won’t be a “movement” until it coalesces with unionizing. pay is only part of the battle. In the American neoliberal neofascism, benefits are maybe more important than pay.
    And if you saw the scene from Grant park on election night or looked at the turnout numbers in 2008, you’d realize that the NOVELTY of audacity hopey changey caused a very much larger minority turnout than normal. That minority surplus has been MIA again since due to his absolute support of wall street, war street and the imperial unitary presidency invented and codified by cheney. If those same thousands of mostly nonwhite faces could be reconvened in Grant park today, I’m sure their tears would be from betrayals instead of giddiness.
    The Ds are going to go for another novelty in ’16 to get the women to flock to polls in similar swelling numbers. I’ve heard many women say that “it’s time for a woman prez”. I ask if just any woman would do… and they all say yes.
    president Hillary is going to be audacity hopey changey again… Reagan’s 10th and, with luck (and stupid voters), 11th.
    lather, rinse, repeat… but don’t open your eyes or it will hurt.

  6. Bill_Perdue says:

    You confuse the labor movement with the AFL-CIO and CTW leaderships. That’s a basic error.

    Abstentionism is a natural reaction to lesser evilism and is neither good or bad because electoralism is a basically erroneous strategy.

    The statement that “The 2008 turnout is a case of the novelty of a mulatto with a pleasant façade running against two of the least popular (and worst) unitaries ever (cheney and his sock monkey)” is borderline racist. Obama has bad politics and should be opposed on that and no other basis.

  7. pvequalkt says:

    Still apples and oranges, I think.
    Europe still has a viable labor bloc in most countries. Austerity aimed mostly at labor would tend to animate them.
    In America, however, we have a single party wielding one sect rabidly antilabor, the other antilabor sporting a fading façade of (historic) support. Labor is nearly now an historic political footnote. In the face of 2 generations of evisceration, labor STILL puts its emaciated weight behind the D sect.
    The 2004 turnout, a bit higher than normal, is a case of the hate being animated against muslims and gays. The 2008 turnout is a case of the novelty of a mulatto with a pleasant façade running against two of the least popular (and worst) unitaries ever (cheney and his sock monkey). 2012 (also 2010) is the understandable result of millions realizing their error in 2008 and staying home. 2014 didn’t offer any reason to show up. 2016 almost certainly will be a rerun with Hillary against some cheney/bush clone… two sides of the same coin… again. No reason to show up then either.
    It is truly great news for the money when they see over half of the eligible voters fail to find any reason to participate… while they also just sit and take it… over and over and over and over…
    That was what was so encouraging about Europe. They actually have choices… and they show up and play. I’ve been in Europe when labor staged wildcat strikes to protest this or that… and they shut things down.
    Showing up tends to keep the parties honest-ish… if the Europeans fail to find a reason to show… that would be very disillusioning.

  8. Badgerite says:

    Works for me.

  9. eggroll_jr says:

    Hungary, like Latvia and other periphery states such as Ireland, early on got drunk on easy access to credit. Its banks used the opportunity to build up their balance sheets while the natives imbibed the firewater. Hungary, which has a strong agricultural base more like Bulgaria, was poorly equipped to bounce back. Now they blame Frankfurt for their hangover. Latvia in contrast, at least came to terms with the new arrangement (after 10% of the population went elsewhere for work), and moved ahead with structural economic reforms. I’ve got a good friend who really bought into the Hungary’s promise in the 1990s, but his struggles have been immense, especially in the last couple of years.

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  11. Bookbinder says:

    This should, at the very least, enable them to better get along with fascist fellow traveler, Russia.

  12. microdot says:

    At this point in time, this is very dire for France. The big polemic regarding Hollande is if he can even survive his remaining 3 years in office. The Socialists are totally demoralized and failed to make an effective attempt to even discuss the real issues before the election except in the vaguest terms. At the same time, the other big Party, the so call center right UMP is self destructing in a series of massive scandals. The head of the party, Jean-Francois Cope had to resign yesterday as he was at the epicenter of of a financial scandal involving millions of Euros. Various other prominent members have been in police custody in the last week in even other scandals. That makes the FN even more dangerous! Pappy LePen stated only last week that the Ebola virus was a good thing because it meant fewer Africans emigrating to France.

  13. cole3244 says:

    i’m afraid that the more dire things get the 99% at least here in america don’t blame those responsible they blame members of the 99% that are different then they are, at least that is the rights reaction it seems to me.

    how europe will react i’m not sure but a similar response seems likely to me if you believe history and take into account human nature which is not usually positive no matter the society.

  14. Bill_Perdue says:

    The workers of Europe who include many large immigrant groups are very interested in the questions of racism and austerity and are organizing against both.

    The economic and union busting strategies of American and west European regimes that are destroying the standard of living of workers and creating an unending economic catastrophe are clearly criminal in nature and some rich people are beginning to figure that out. They fear that in the end, working people and the left will render them helpless by confiscating their wealth. The rich in Europe and here are in panic mode. “Why American Conservatives Are Suddenly Freaking Out About Guillotines – Are they afraid the people’s patience is not endless?

    They should be freaked out. Working people here and in Europe are very angry and getting more organized and educated by the day.

  15. Bill_Perdue says:

    Don’t be surprised if I’m not guided overly much by your approval or non-approval.

  16. Houndentenor says:

    Europe is known for high voter turnout. That 60% didn’t vote at all is shocking as that would be a low turnout even by American standards. Maybe this will shake up the establishment that is obviously out of touch with the people.

  17. Badgerite says:

    You finally posted something I heartily approve of. Miracles do happen.

  18. Indigo says:

    Endless analysis is irrelevant. The people of Europe do not need or want constant lectures on Franco-German hegemonic economic theory. The Blue Jacket Club in Brussels [E.U.] needed this wake up call lest the tumbrils start rolling.

  19. Bill_Perdue says:

    A big blow to American letters.

  20. Indigo says:

    Yes, and may she rest in peace.

  21. Bill_Perdue says:

    The analysis presented here is fundamentally sound. In the elections fake left and centrist parties lost to the real left, which continues to grow, and to the fascist right, which grew a bit more.

    English elections describe one variant of what happened – the right centrist Troy/LibCon alliance, the English analog of the Democrat Party suffered badly, fake left Labour stagnated, the working class and militant left represented by Socialist Resistance and the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition grew organizationally in preparation for more battles in and outside of the electoral arena.

    That variant was also present in a number of countries where united workers parties and leftist parties are merging and growing including Germany and France. What distinguishes most of them is that they combine an electoral effort with fighting the battles for workers against austerity and the anti-Arab and muslim racism of the fascists.

    As for Greece the growth of SYRIZA, a coalition of left and workers parties, as a counterweight to the kind of IMF/Deutsche Bundesbank regime that resulted from the fascist putsch in the Ukraine is heartening news. SYRIZA has to go one step further now and prepare for a showdown the Merkel. In many ways that will be a repeat of the WWII Greek resistance to the German occupation but in modern form with the emphasis on utilizing the rage of workers to topple the current quisling regime.

    As the report noted, the question of abstentionism was a major factor, just as it was here in the 2012 elections where Obama and his opponent divided about 60% of the electorate. That fact denied Obama any sort of credible mandate. The vote count in the last election – 40% of eligible voters consciously deciding not to vote is an indictment of the lesser evilism of both parties. “A report estimating the percentage of eligible voters who cast ballots in Tuesday’s election shows the rate was lower than in the past two presidential contests, though it surpassed the rate from 2000. Thursday’s report, from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate, put 2012 voter turnout at 57.5% of all eligible voters, compared to 62.3% who voted in 2008 and 60.4% who cast ballots in 2004.”

    Abstentionism is also a huge problem for the American backed military dictatorship in Egypt. CBS news ran a story last night noting that the dictatorship called a vote and few bothered to vote – the polling stations were empty in spite of the fact that the Obama backed dictatorship declared an emergency national holiday so people could vote.

    In the global struggle against austerity, colonialism and racism the fascists are going to grow, and as the fight in the Ukraine shows, they will flex their muscle with US backing and can have and effect. In response the growth of the left and the labor left is going to leave centrists like the Democrats, the fake left in Europe and other rightists with a seriously eroded base.

  22. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Totally off topic, but Maya Angelou passed this morning.

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