Surge of EU-Critical Parties in Euro Parliament Elections

What follows are many of the developments from the elections for the Euro Parliament, held on May 25th. Although perhaps difficult for an American audience to appreciate, these elections have already shown a certain earthquake like effect, in their implications for European, and consequently Trans-Atlantic policy. Much like in the United States, where the majority of Americans, polled honestly, no longer approve of Obama, so these elections have shown a vast groundswell for the dumping of Euro-centric and pro Euro policies.

Overall Elections

Although in most of the 28 EU member countries, the EU critics did not come out as the strongest party in the European Parliament elections on Sunday, May 25, a general surge of anti-EU sentiments in the vote is noteworthy: all Brussels-opposing parties gained in comparison to the last elections in 2009. The most spectacular vote results for critics, seeing them come in first, ahead of the other establishment parties, are in France, where the Front National gained 26%, passing by the UMP with its 20%, and the Socialist Party (PS) with its 14%; in the United Kingdom, where the UKIP got 26% and is also ahead of the Conservatives; in Greece, where Syriza got 27% and came in first; in Italy, where the Grillo party came in second after the Democrats; in Austria, where the FPOe came in third after the Conservatives and the Socialists; and in Denmark, where the DF came out first with 23%. In Hungary, the Jobbik came in second with almost 15%; in Finland, the True Finns came in third with 12%; the anti-Brussels parties in other countries had results in the range of between 5 and 10%.
Voter Turnout

Voter turnout was low, with only43% only across all of the EU; one of the highest turnouts was in Italy with 65% (and still low there, too); in Germany, 48%, in France 43%, in the U.K. only 35%. The European Parliament’s Group of the European People’s Party (EPP), an alliance of Christian Democrats and conservatives, came out strongest with 28% across the EU, followed by the Socialist bloc with 23%; the EPP’s top candidate Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to get enough votes also from other parties in the newly elected European Parliament to be elected new President of the EU Commission in September.For Germany, the results are as follows: CDU-CSU 35% (-2); SPD 27 (+6); Greens 10 (-1.4); Linke and AfD 7% each; FDP only 3% (-7!). Note that Merkel’s Christian Democrats lost several million voters—a vote of no-confidence in her pro-euro policies. The BüSo got 0.0% or 10,700 votes (200 less than in 2009), with better results of 0.1% in the eastern states of Saxony, Brandenburg, Berlin, and Mecklenburg.

Individual Countries

UK Independence Party (UKIP) Wins European Elections

In Great Britain, Nigel Farage’s anti-euro UKIP won the European elections. For the first time in modern history neither Labour nor the Conservative party has won a British national election. Without all the votes in, the Guardian, writes that they could win as much as 28%, doubling the 16.5% they won in the last European elections in 2009, when UKIP came in second to the Tories with 13 seats. Twenty years ago, in its first European election, UKIP managed to win 1% of the vote.

The Liberal Democrats were all but wiped out, losing 10 of their 11 seats, putting pressure on party leader, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to resign. They received only 7% of the vote.
‘Most Extraordinary Result’

Labour predicts it will have 25.7% and the Tories 24.5%. Labour had a very strong showing in the capital against the Conservatives. Nonetheless Labour “underperformed,” which also puts party leader Ed Miliband under pressure. The Green party will have come in fourth.Farage said the result justified the description of an earthquake because “never before in the history of British politics has a party seen to be an insurgent party ever topped the polls in a national election.” He claimed voters had “delivered about the most extraordinary result that has been seen in British politics for 100 years and I am proud to have led them to that.” The UKIP leader predicted that as a consequence, “We may well see one party leader forced out of his position and another to reconsider his policy of opposition to a referendum on Europe, and David Cameron will have to take a much tougher negotiating stance. It is now not beyond the bounds of possibility that we hold the balance of power in another hung Parliament.”

UKIP even won a seat in Scotland, while the Scotland National Party showed no increase in its share of the vote over 2009, although it won in Scotland.

In the three leading parties there is great distress as party functionaries accuse their leaderships of complacency and not making the “case” for Europe.

Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan called for a pre-election pact with UKIP and demanding the Foreign Office toughen its renegotiation stance on Europe.

Tim Farron, party president of the LibDems, said, “The results are as bad as I feared…Everything they had done was to get a result above nothing… Nick Clegg had stood up to UKIP, and I would do it again. Britain is drifting to the exit door of the European Union.”

Martin Callanan, the former Tory leader in Europe, who was defeated in the northeast, said “we must not get this out of proportion…European elections are not a good guide to what happens in the general election. My advice is to my party not to panic, to be calm and to be reflective. We must not obsess about Europe.”

Syriza Tops Polls in European Parliament Elections

The leading Greek opposition party, the Syriza topped the polls in the European elections in Greece, delivering a strong message that it could win the next national elections. Nonetheless the vote for the anti-memorandum parties was effectively suppressed by various means.

The vote results gave the Syriza close to 27%, giving it 7 of the 21 seats Greece has in the European Parliament, while the ruling New Democracy received less than 23% and giving it only 6 seats. The third party was the fascist Golden Dawn with over 9% and winning 3 seats. This party was created to draw off the protest vote in the national elections of 2012. Its anti- memorandum policy only acts as a spoiler against the legitimate parties.
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The fourth party was the so-called Elia, or Olive Tree Alliance which was cobbled together with the Pasok and other “centrist” pro-memorandum personalities in order to save Pasok from oblivion. It got 8% and 2 seats. The new To Potami or River party got 6%; it was created to siphon votes from Syriza. It was organized by a journalist named Stavros Theodorakis, no relation to resistance hero Mikis Theodorakis. He made a point that his party has no program. Being a journalist for a major media group has tagged him as part of the “system.” It got 2 seatsThe Communist KKE had 6% and 2 seats and the anti-memorandum party of Panos Kammenos, the Independent Greeks got 3.5% and 1 seat. Kammenos and his party were victims of the government changing the law for party financing, which allowed Athens to claim that he was not entitled to any funds because the party won no seats in the 2009 elections — not surprising, since the party was only founded in 2012. According to Greek sources the Independent Greeks fielded some of the best and most competent candidates. Syriza also lost funding because of the change in the party funding law.

Democratic Left, which has seats in the national parliament did not cross the 3% threshold, nor did the three anti-euro parties, Drachma 5, Plan B and the United Peoples Front.

In the Greek local elections the New Democracy lost many of the cities and districts, which went to either Syriza or to independent candidates. The anti-memorandum forces won three important victories: The first is that Syriza candidate Rena Dourou won as district governor for Attica with 50.83%. This has largest population of the 13 districts in Greece, and is where Athens is located. Syriza also won the District of the Ionian Islands, the first time Syriza has won district elections, which are very important.

Another important win was by Apostolos Tzitzikostas who won in the District of Central Macedonia, with 71%. He is a former ND member and ran as an independent. He is anti-memorandum and had been endorsed by the Independent Greeks.

The oldest new Member of European Parliament (MEP) is Manolis Glezos, the leading candidate of Syriza. The Greek World War II resistance fighter is 91 and will most likely be the oldest member of the European Parliament.

Syriza and Independent Greeks Plan for Early Elections

Fresh from winning the Greek European Parliament elections, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras declared that the election results again discredit the ruling coalition and demanded new national elections be called. Panos Kammenos, leader of the anti-memorandum Independent Greeks also put forward plans for early elections as well.

The ruling New Democracy claims that Syriza did not win enough to topple the ruling coalition of ND and Pasok (Olive Tree alliance) because the latter had a combined total larger than Syriza. This of course is nonsense since the anti-memorandum coalition is larger, if Syriza, Independent Greeks, and the Communists (KKE) are included, all of which would support new elections.

Emerging from a meeting with President Karolos Papoulias today to discuss the outcome of yesterday’s European Parliament and local elections, Tsipras reiterated his call for national elections. He said the election has produced new power balances, and his party has a clear victory of 4 points over New Democracy. He said the government parties have lost a combined share of 11 points since 2012, and this would translate into 94 MPs in elections, down from the 162 elected in June 2012. He said a “great disharmony” exists between the popular will and the parliamentary make-up. This Parliament has no legitimacy to pass new measures or elect a new President, therefore “elections to restore democratic normalcy in an organized and smooth way,” are necessary.
The Patriotic Alliance

It seems Syriza has changed their slogan from creating a “government of the left” to a government of an “extensive, patriotic and progressive alliance” which seems to pave the way for a national unity government with non-leftist anti-memorandum parties such as the Independent Greeks and others.Meanwhile Independent Greeks’ leader Panos Kammenos told the press that because of his party’s poor showing, he will be seeking alliances with other smaller anti-memorandum parties. He said he would invite them to his party’s special congress to be held soon.

General elections are to be held in 2016, and constitutionally the government is under no obligation to resign and hold early elections. Nonetheless, next February the Greek Presidency comes up for election, which requires a two-thirds majority in the Parliament, which the government does not have. Tsipras has already said Syriza will vote against any candidate in order to force early elections.

Hungary, Another Victory for EU Rival Viktor Orban

There was more gnashing of teeth at the European Union when in Hungary the ruling Fidesz party won 52% of the vote giving it 12 seats. This is the party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the Eurocrats’ rival for his stand that national interests are more important than EU “solidarity” for self-destruction. Only a few weeks ago, Fidesz won a two-thirds majority in the national elections

Among the policies he implemented that created anger in Brussels was his taxing the banks, his signing of a deal with Russia to building a nuclear power station, and his implementing laws that forbid foreign companies, i.e. speculators, from buying Hungarian farmland. His policy is to create class of small and medium-sized farmers.

Orban told supporters: “We won and we won hugely.”

The far-right Jobbik came in second. And the big losers were Orban’s biggest critics including the Socialists, which got just below 11%, and the Democratic Coalition, a splinter group set up by former Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, with close to 10%. Each will have two MEPs. Hungary’s green party, the LMP, just passed the 5% threshold and will have one MEP. Voter turnout was low, with only 2.2 million of Hungary’s 8 million voters casting votes.

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