The European elections are over. From June 4th to June 7th, of the about 500 million Europeans, 375 million were entitled to elect 736 MEPs (Members of the European Parliament). The major trend is a now unmistakable shift to the right, something I predicted almost 4 years ago. Some caveats remain however. Many parties calling themselves "rightwing" would not pass the lithmus test for the "right" US style. Geert Wilders' PVV party in The Netherlands e.g., though it expressly champions limited government, is pro gay marriage. In France, and Sarkozy's centre-right UMP has shown itself thus far to be centre right in name only. As I said before, one could just as well call the 2009 European elections a move away from the left - at least this is undeniably true. A second caveat is the historically low turnout - fewer than half of the 375 million eligible voters cared to do so.
Be that as it may - the results can be summed up as a victory for center-right, an almost europeanwide dismal performance of the left, and successes for parties which are routinely labeled extreme right but which are often nationalistic groupings with economic agendas not differing too much from their socialist counterparts. As someone who would label himself a modern rightwinger/Hayekian conservative, I'd say: "it could be better, but but it's moderately good". A brief overview of some of the 27 EU member states:
a.) In Bulgaria, pop. around 8 million, capital Sofia, the Right-wing opposition party GERB beat the ruling Socialists with 24.4 per cent of the vote against the 18.6 per cent of their counterparts.
b.) An even more clear victory for the Right in Hungary, pop. circa 10 million, capital Budapest. Fidesz, the center-right opposition party, beat the ruling socialist party with 56.37% of votes against 17.37. Of the 22 seats available in the EP for Hungary, Fidesz will occupy 14 and the socialists a mere 4. A good result indeed.
c.) Slovakia, pop. ca. 5 million, capital Bratislava, is a rather rare exception in that the ruling left-wing Smer party still took 32.01 per cent of the vote versus the 17% of the center-right Christian Democratic opposition party SDKU-DS (the party of ex-PM Dzurinda).
d.) Another rightwing victory, albeit less outspoken, in the Czech Republic, pop. 10 million, capital Prague. Here the centre-Right Civic Democrats won nine EP seats, the Social Democrats seven, the Communists four and the Christian Democrats two.
e.) Spain (40 million people, Madrid) witnessed the first nationwide defeat for Zapatero's ruling socialist PSOE party. The Right-wing Popular Party led by Mariano Rajoy gained 42.2 per cent of the votes winning 23 seats in the European Parliament compared to the ruling Socialist party's 38.5 per cent and 21 seats.
f.) In Poland (39 million people, Warsaw) it was again a win-win situation for the right since both the ruling Civic Platform, led by Donald Tusk, Poland's prime minister, and the country's main opposition party PiS (Law and Justice), are rightwing parties. Civic Platform won 25 of the 50 seats on offer while PiS came in second with 15 seats. In Poland, the socialists of SDL have been hanging in the ropes for some time now, but then Poles are generally a saner kind of people than the rest of Europeans. Far too modest too.
g.) In Italy (60 million, Rome), PM Silvio Berlusconi and his centre-Right People of Freedom Party dreamt of attracting up to 45 per cent of the vote; instead they had to be content with just over 35 per cent. But even this disappointing result is better than that of the leftwing opposition, the Democratic Party - it won 26 per cent of the vote. Berlusconi might have done better had he not been embroiled just one week prior to the elections in a rather unsavoury scandal with topless beauties and fellas with proud boners having a good time in some sunny resort owned by Italy's flamboyant PM, with the latter walking around like some kind of 21st Century Sun King. Still, when one takes into account the best results ever of the anti-immigration Lega Nord (Northern League), formerly a secessionist party, Italy, too, clearly opted for the Right. Lega Nord garnered 10 per cent of votes (compared to 8.3 per cent in last year's general election) and let me tell you that that is telling something. Lega Nord is a fierce opponent of illegal immigration, and is in fact the driving force behing legislation which makes it a crime to be an illegal immigrant in Italy.
h.) In the UK, Labour suffered a terrible defeat at the hands of fed-up British voters: it polled just 15.3% of the vote, its worst election result since World War II (!). Labour is now the UK's third party behind Cameron's "Conservatives" (that caveat again) and UKIP (an anti-EU party). Also remarkable and - dare I say it - a hopegiving sign: the British National Party for the first time won at a national level, even to such an extent that it can send two delegates to the EP.
i.) Holland: The Netherlands' anti-Islamic and Euro-sceptic Freedom Party PVV, headed by Right-wing politician Geert Wilders, won 17 per cent of the vote which translates into four seats in the European Parliament. Despite the fact that the ruling Christian Democrats remain the biggest party, the PVV's ascent is an ominous sign for Holland's left.
j.) A somewhat bewildering scenario in France: with just under 28 per cent of the vote, Sarkozy's centre-right UMP was the first presidential party to come out on top in EU elections since 1979. Bewildering since "Sarko" is deeply unpopular on the domestic front. Sarkozy, with his etatist gimmicks, his unhealthy endeavour in establishing some kind of European/Maghreb Union, and his slut of a wife, has unfortunately proven himself to be a disillusionment for the Right in France. Still, a gain for "centre-right" Sarkozy is far better than a gain for the French Socialists, who polled very bad, getting only 16.48 per cent of the vote and narrowly avoiding becoming France's third party.
k.) In Germany, Merkel's centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian allies the Christian Social Union (CSU), held their own despite falling to 38.5 per cent from 44.5 per cent in 2004. They are still the strongest grouping, besides Merkels coalition partners, the socialist of SPD, also lose, albeit not so dramatically.
l.) In Portugal, the Socialists of Prime Minister Jose Socrates were defeated heavily, scoring just 26.6 per cent of the vote vs. 31.7 per cent for the centre-right social democrats.
m.) Victory for the conservatives on Cyprus too
n.) In Belgium... the situation is, as always, complicated. Let us say that Flanders, Belgium's Dutch-speaking northern part, clearly voted center-right, while Wallonia, Belgium's French-speaking southern half, voted, as always, left. The big win for center-right in Flanders did, however, not mean good news for my party, the Vlaams Belang: it lost big, losing a third of its voters. These ones voted however for two emerging center-right parties, LDD and NVA, which, with a bit of good will, could be labeled as VB Lite. VB remains Belgium's SOLE truly rightwing party, ideologically pure so to say with its staunch defense of traditional values and its ongoing resistance against gay marriage and gay adoption, while at the same time being pro free market. Its economic programme even literally advocates supply side economics. While I am personally very disappointed in VB's low score, I take heart because the votes it lost went to center-right parties, and ultimately the bigger European picture is what counts, and the verdict is clear: Europeans punished the left.
Over the years, the European Parliament has seen, almost in a natural way, the emergence of political families. Indeed, conservatives, socialists, greens etc from different European countries have found each other and formed groups in the EP. And what we see today is e.g. that the EPP, the European People's Party, home of the national parties of center-right leaders such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, took 267 of the 736 seats in the European Parliament. The socialist group, the Party of European Socialists , slumped to just 159 seats, while the Liberals took 81 and the Greens 51.
At this point in time... it is thus fair to say... that currently... the "United States of Europe" might well be more rightwing than the United States of America. Certainly so when president Hussein basically nationalized an iconic car maker of America. Admit that we would consider this normal in the USSR. But in the US?