Apparently the new European Parliament elections have resulted in a rightward shift. At least that’s the buzz. But European politics is messy. And the Yahoo article pipes on about “far-right” parties quite a bit, including some who are said to be racist and anti-Semitic. It should hardly be surprising that, with our radically different histories, the European “right” looks a bit odd to the American right. So in my view this is neither good news nor bad news, just European news.
Still, let’s analyze this, shall we?
High unemployment across Europe has increased voter dissatisfaction with mainstream parties and made residents skeptical over the EU’s power to help spur economic recovery.
Good, good, they are properly skeptical that the government can solve the problem (at least the EU, anyway).
But the big winner in Austria was the rightist Freedom Party, which more than doubled its strength over the 2004 elections to 13 percent of the vote. It campaigned on an anti-Islam platform, with posters proclaiming “The Occident in Christian hands.”
Uh, hm…Well, I hate to judge a party by its blurb in the media, but if this is really just an “anti-Islam” party rather than a anti-Islamic-extremist party, then this is not the good news one would assume based on the cool sounding name “Freedom Party”-Are they being mischaracterized? What are their positions on the more important, economic issues? I actually don’t care. Let the crazy Europeans do what they want-they are doomed anyway.
In the Netherlands, exit polls predicted Geert Wilders’ anti-Islamic party would win more than 15 percent of the country’s votes, bruising a ruling alliance of Conservatives and Socialists.
Now this I know a little bit more about. My understanding is that Mr. Wilders is a guy who is being suppressed for saying politically incorrect things about Islam. But, again, the enemy of my enemy may have a right to speak, but he is not necessarily my friend. Still, if the socialists are hurting, that’s good.
Fringe groups could use five-year terms in the EU parliament’s 736 seats as a platform for their extreme views but were not expected to affect the assembly’s increasingly influential lawmaking on issues ranging from climate change to cell-phone roaming charges.
This is the best hint I can get as to the nature of these “far right” parties, and even this is actually more confusing than enlightening. Does this mean that the hold the mainstream positions on these issues? Or does it mean that speaking out against the stupid climate policies of the EU makes you an “extremist”? Still, if they will have no effect on policy, who cares?
In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative UMP party has steadily held the lead in polls, with the Socialist Party second.
Good for Nicolas and his wife who is way too hot for him. I don’t really know much about him other than that he is preferable to the socialists, which is easy. But he is French…
Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Freedom People’s Party held a two-digit lead over his main center-left rival in the most recent polling despite a deep recession and a scandal over allegations he had an inappropriate relationship with an 18-year-old model.
If only for the entertainment value of having a guy in charge of Italy who says Obama has a “good suntan” and sleeps with underage models, this is good news. Beyond entertainment, who cares? It’s Italy. They have like 9000 parties and god knows what they are up to half the time.
In Britain, dissident Labour legislators said a plot to oust Prime Minister Gordon Brown could accelerate after the party’s expected dismal results in the European elections are announced.
Opponents say the Labour leader has been so tainted by the economic crisis and a scandal over lawmakers’ expenses that the opposition Conservatives are virtually guaranteed to win the next national election, which must be called by June 2010.
Good news and bad news here. The good news is that Labour is hosed. The bad news is that from what I hear the British Conservatives have ceased to be Churchill or Thatcher party and have become something more along the lines of a Chamberlain party (and no, I’m not speaking of foreign policy, but other things). The other thing is that the “right wing” British National Party-arguably more a national socialist party really-is feeding off the resulting confusion.
In contrast, Greece’s governing conservatives were headed for defeat in the wake of corruption scandals and with a sharply slowing economy, exit polls showed. The Communists and a new environmental party, meanwhile, were expected to make a strong showing.
Okay, that’s bad. And Greece had done so well to escape communist takeover back in the day…
Advance polls also favored the left-leaning party in Portugal.
Well, it’s only Portugal right?
In Spain, where the recession has driven unemployment to 17.4 percent, Europe’s highest, a close race was expected between the ruling Socialists and the conservative opposition.
Recall that the socialists gained power after the panic from the Madrid train bombing, and they immediately pull out of the war. Typical left wing weenies. Hopefully the opposition takes this one (I take a special interest here, as my late paternal grandfather came from Spain-he actually lived under Franco before coming to the US on an education visa and marrying my grandmother. He taught us all so much about politics. I learned a lot from him indirectly through my father. I know he’d be pulling for those left-wing weenies to crumble to.)
Poland’s governing pro-business Civic Platform party was expected to claim around half of the country’s 50 seats, followed by the conservative nationalist Law and Justice party — a shift to the right for Poland at the European parliament.
What does “pro-business” mean? Mussolini/Obama style Corporatism? Turn of the 19th century Republican protectionism? Or is it convoluted code for pro-market and competition (hardly the same thing)? Similarly, what does “nationalist” mean? Patriotism? State worship? It matters, especially to the left/right characterization. The media always misses these subtleties.
In Hungary, where the governing Socialist Party raised taxes and cut social programs in a deep financial crisis, the main center-right opposition party, Fidesz, was slated to win at least 15 of 22 seats. Jobbik, a far-right party accused by critics of racism and anti-Semitism, was expected to win one or two.
Actually, our left could learn something from Hungarian socialists (another interesting point, my mother’s father came from Hungary-and though he barely escaped communism, he is left leaning and is divorced from my grandmother, so as much as I like my family, he is far from my favorite grandparent) as far as cutting social programs goes. And there’s that “far-right” term again. Jobbik doesn’t sound anarchist to me. So how are they “far-right”? Racism? So “right” is code for leaning towards whatever you don’t like? It explains the bizarre dichotomy that conservatives are “fascist”. Oh boy, here comes the small federal government to control you! Look out it has abstinence fliers!
In Sweden, the Green Party was expected to increase its support dramatically. The Pirate Party, which advocates shortening the duration of copyright protection and allowing noncommercial file-sharing between individuals, was expected to get one or two seats for the first time.
Romanian police set up checkpoints around the country after widespread allegations of voting fraud. Officials said parties were offering voters from 50-100 lei (euros 12-24, $17-$34) to vote in several towns.
Apparently in Europe you bribe voters, while in America, the Black Panthers intimidate you. Sounds like a pretty serious problem, eh? Where’s RACORN when you need them?
EDIT: Folks might enjoy Daniel Hannan’s comments in this interview with Glenn Beck:
Hannan is absolutely right on.
The term “Right” isn’t used in exactly the same way on this side of the Atlantic. First of all they mean really the big beneficiaries are the kind of Christian Democrat parties which would be Democrats, I guess, in the U.S. I mean, they certainly wouldn’t be what a Glenn Beck listener would recognize as a conservative rightwing party. And they’ve done pretty well because you know what? The left always does well when the right has sorted out under the circumstances. And the left always does badly when people realize that there is work to be done. So the leftwing party did really well after the Cold War because conservative parties had made Europe safe for them. And suddenly they thought they could splurge out of welfare and all this kind of stuff. And then the recession came along and people thought, that’s enough, we need the grownups now, we can’t have this anymore. And so there was a swing back. You are right, some of the parties that are called far right are, of course, nothing of the kind. There is an outrageous semantic trick being played whereby parties which are corporatist and socialist, that want nationalization, that hate free trade, you know, you are called rightwing because our media used the word “Rightwing” as a synonym for bad guy.
The media over here does the same thing, except they have a lot less in the way of examples.