European voters staged a protest of their own. The European Union elections were held over the last few days, and the status quo took a big hit. European elections: extremist and fringe parties are the big winners
Extremist and fringe parties were the beneficiaries as voters across Europe deserted mainstream parties or stayed at home in protest at the state of their economies.
The Centre Left was set to be the big loser across the 27 European Union countries with the Centre Right consolidating its position as the largest group in the Parliament. Anti-immigrant parties gained MEPs in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands and Slovakia.
Governing parties generally suffered but this trend was bucked in Italy, where Silvio Berlusconi’s Party of Freedom was heading for gains, and in France, where Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP recovered dramatically from a poor showing in 2004.
The turnout of about 43 per cent, compared with the low of 45.47 per cent in 2004, meant that 213 million voters abstained from the poll despite mandatory voting in several countries.
One voter concern that major political parties ignored was immigration from Muslim countries, and they paid a price:
Britain elected its first extreme-right politician to the European Parliament, with the British National Party winning a seat in northern England’s Yorkshire and the Humber district.
The far-right party, which does not accept nonwhites as members, was expected to possibly win further seats as more results in Britain were announced.
Lawmakers with Britain’s major political parties said the far right’s advance was a reflection of anger over immigration issues and the recession that is causing unemployment to soar.
Near-final results showed Austria’s main rightist party gaining strongly while the ruling Social Democrats lost substantial ground. The big winner in Austria was the rightist Freedom Party, which more than doubled its strength over the 2004 elections to 13.1 percent of the vote. It campaigned on an anti-Islam platform.
In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’ anti-Islamic party took 17 percent of the country’s votes, taking four of 25 seats.
The Hungarian far-right Jobbik party won three of 22 seats, with the main center-right opposition party, Fidesz, capturing 14 seats and the governing Socialists only four.
Jobbik describes itself as Euro-skeptic and anti-immigration and wants police to crack down on petty crimes committed by Gypsies. Critics say the party is racist and anti-Semitic.
Why did parties on the Left do so poorly? The WSJ:
One reason is that as Europe tipped into recession, the right moved left — appropriating some of the left’s long-standing economic policies, including nationalizations and bailouts…right-wing parties across the continent began offering more pragmatic approaches to policy than they had traditionally done. In the past decade, conservative parties introduced competition or privatized some public services in France, Germany and Italy — but they refrained from dismantling the health-care and public transport services cherished by voters.
Another reason for the shift to the right:
Some fear that the inability of many European left-wing parties to attract voters is a cause — not just a symptom — of a rise among parties on the far right. “When people fear that they are not protected by their governments, they go back to nationalism,” said Anthony Wedgwood Benn, a retired U.K. Socialist lawmaker.
Political shenanigans or honest mistake? The UKIP is considered a fringe party. ANGER AS VOTERS CAN’T FIND UKIP ON BALLOT PAPERS
…The first and most obvious thing that emerges is that none of the three main Westminster parties made any gains in voting share. The Tories dropped marginally, Labour nose-dived and the Lib-Dims were lacklustre.
What is also fascinating though is the voting share of the what the pollsters like to call the “others”. Taking UKIP, BNP, the Greens, English Democrats, the SLP, the Christian Party, No2EU, Jury Team and Libertas, their combined vote was 519,520 or 42.3 percent of the total votes cast.
In terms, significantly more people voted for the “others” than they did the lead party – the Conservatives – which only took 24.5 percent of the vote. In fact, since all three Westminster parties only took 56.5 percent of the vote, there was very nearly parity between the established parties and the rest.
The next thing of interest is the “anti-EU” vote. Here, we can take UKIP, BNP, the English Democrats, the SLP and No2EU as the core vote. Collectively, they polled 400,487 which, at 32.7 percent share, far outstrips the winning Conservative vote. In other words, the Tories, with their pro-EU policy are firmly in the minority.
When the anti-Lisbon treaty vote is examined, however, we can add in the Tories, the Christian Party, Jury Team and Libertas. That brings the vote to 700,289 or 57 percent of the vote cast. It can be assumed, therefore, that in Yorkshire at least, the government has no mandate whatsoever to implement the Lisbon treaty…
Ireland’s government is looking at a no-confidence vote after losing at local polls.
Will the European political class take heed of what their voters told them, or will they waste their time blaming everyone but themselves? Time will tell.
In other election news, Lebanon stays out of Hezbollah’s political clutches.