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June 9th, 2009, 14:09
Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
There is definitely a window of opportunity, but the EP has little to do with it. Foreign policy is the domain of the (mostly center-right) national governments.

It is also a matter of individual leaders, there is a good deal of difference between Chirac's and Sarko's attitudes towards the US in spite of them being from the same conservative party
Really? Judging by sarko's huffiness that Obama didn't have time to stop and have lunch with him I think he's got the same starstruck crush that everyone in europe has on Obama.
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June 9th, 2009, 14:31
EU parliamentary elections were held on Sunday and while the results are not shoking a few things have changed to worse.
Greece usually had a higher turnout than most off the members off the EU,while the turnout was always lower than on the national election this time it had a negative record.It usually is around 65-70% but now it was just over 50%.
Most mayor parties had lower ratings except the right-wing national party witch managed to double their sits and the Greens who entered the EU parliament for the first time.
The party that govern's the country (something like right-wing Christian Democrats) lost for 4% to our (wannabe)Socialists.
Some media persons with a big influence on the common folk claimed that not voting was like protesting against the system.And as most people are distrustful of politics they decided not to vote(so much for holding your future in your hands).
The big losers were all the left-wing parties who got just over 5% and the commies who are on 8% for over 20 years.
I heard about the Pirate party and had a laugh,what is it about?
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June 9th, 2009, 14:32
Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
There is definitely a window of opportunity, but the EP has little to do with it. Foreign policy is the domain of the (mostly center-right) national governments.
True; I was thinking of the EP elections more as a manifestation of an underlying political reality than something significant in and of itself. The European left IS demoralized and in disarray, and that's not going to change within the next year or two; the center-right and the Greens are the ones with the momentum. (I'm a pretty good test case myself — my political home is with the Social Democrats, but I don't think I've actually voted for them in the last ten years or so. I've instead been voting mostly Green.)

It is also a matter of individual leaders, there is a good deal of difference between Chirac's and Sarko's attitudes towards the US in spite of them being from the same conservative party
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June 9th, 2009, 14:34
Originally Posted by Kostaz View Post
I heard about the Pirate party and had a laugh,what is it about?
In a small nutshell, they want to change copyright law so that non-commercial file sharing (of music, films, and software) becomes legal.
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June 9th, 2009, 14:39
Very interesting discussion. I was about to say it's nice to hear about someone else's politics besides ours all the time, but apparently politics here are inextricably entangled with politics everywhere, for which somehow I feel I ought to apologize…

@Prime J, on your reference to populism and the Right winning—do you think this was due primarily to the economy, or do you feel a generational type of shift such as we seem to be undergoing here as well?

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June 9th, 2009, 14:49
Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
It is also a matter of individual leaders, there is a good deal of difference between Chirac's and Sarko's attitudes towards the US in spite of them being from the same conservative party
Originally Posted by Benedict View Post
Really? Judging by sarko's huffiness that Obama didn't have time to stop and have lunch with him I think he's got the same starstruck crush that everyone in europe has on Obama.
Exactly. He got an ego problem… he is not the worldwide star leader he used to be under Bush. But Zeleukos is still right, in France Sarko is sometimes seen as too "american" ( http://www.agoravox.tv/article.php3?id_article=16940 ), too friendly to us interests while the relation between the US and Chirac was fairly often lukewarm.

Remember 2003 and the freedom fries, Villepin's speech at the United Nation against the war in Irak while France was holding the banner for the anti-war coalition. I used to have Villepin as my avatar on forums back then
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June 9th, 2009, 15:02
Originally Posted by Benedict View Post
Really? Judging by sarko's huffiness that Obama didn't have time to stop and have lunch with him I think he's got the same starstruck crush that everyone in europe has on Obama.
Chirac was a Gaullist through and through, keeping a very high independent profile and often in opposition to the US. Sarko isnt really a Gaullist in terms of foreign policy but (by French standards) fairly pro-American. Both are cynical chauvinists but Sarko doesnt see that as an obstacle to cooperation with the US

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
In a small nutshell, they want to change copyright law so that non-commercial file sharing (of music, films, and software) becomes legal.
They also stress online privacy. Two issues in the last year have really played into their hands:

- The FRA law, expanding the rights of "Swedish NSA" to monitor any cable communications, and to do so on demand of a much wider range of agencies than just the military (which is their traditional partner). This issue was not handled well by the major parties.

- The Pirate Bay trial against the men behind a well known torrent site.

Given that their support really only took off after the later event and that most of their voters are males under 30 I think it is a fair guess that their electorate mostly wants the right to ignore copyright laws.

On a curious side note they dont have any policy at all outside internet, privacy, and copyright issues. They will just vote with whatever pan-European party group they are in, but it's not clear where they will end up (the liberal or the green group are most likely though)
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June 9th, 2009, 15:05
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
@Prime J, on your reference to populism and the Right winning—do you think this was due primarily to the economy, or do you feel a generational type of shift such as we seem to be undergoing here as well?
It's partly the economic crisis, partly disillusionment and frustration with the "UN-style" administrative paralysis discussed above, and partly the failure of the European left to articulate a program that would address these problems. I don't think it's a generational shift.

Perhaps, in a way, it's due to the *success* of the EU — just about all the major political parties from the Social Democrats to the Conservatives via the Greens are nowadays pretty much pro-EU. Of course there are major differences in details, e.g. how much and when the union should be deepened, whether, how, and when it should be broadened, and so on, but none of them want to actually dismantle it or even weaken it.

So, if you're a nationalist or a Euroskeptic, the only places to go are the extreme left or the populist right. The extreme left is very solidly stuck in the past; traditional Communist slogans are more likely to get you an amused laugh than a follower these days. So they either stay home or vote for the populists.
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June 9th, 2009, 15:15
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
@Prime J, on your reference to populism and the Right winning—do you think this was due primarily to the economy, or do you feel a generational type of shift such as we seem to be undergoing here as well?
EU elections are often taken as less serious and an opportunity to protest-vote against the national government. This one is a bit odd as the national governments mostly are right-wing. People mainly seem to have voted against social-democratic governments (Labour in the UK, the Social-democratic half of the grand coalition in Germany, and the Socialists in Spain) while the conservative governments havent experienced much of a backlash. My class prejudice tells me that social democratic (working class) voters seem to have gone to the populist/xenophobic right (their voter base consists of disgruntled workers) and that the "intellectual" leftie voters have gone to the greens.

It should also be noted that the low turnout makes the EU elections very noisy as opinion polls, and election results depend much more on mobilisation compared to national election. Sweden for instance had 43% of the voting age population show up at the polls compared to about 80% for a national election, and that obviously makes the result much less representative. The liberal party that I voted for for instance has much easier to mobilise its core voters than the Social democrats.

EDIT: I also think more voters vote on national rather than EU issues, even though that doesnt make sense from a utilitarian view
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June 9th, 2009, 15:33
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
It's partly the economic crisis, partly disillusionment and frustration with the "UN-style" administrative paralysis discussed above, and partly the failure of the European left to articulate a program that would address these problems. I don't think it's a generational shift.

Perhaps, in a way, it's due to the *success* of the EU — just about all the major political parties from the Social Democrats to the Conservatives via the Greens are nowadays pretty much pro-EU. Of course there are major differences in details, e.g. how much and when the union should be deepened, whether, how, and when it should be broadened, and so on, but none of them want to actually dismantle it or even weaken it.

So, if you're a nationalist or a Euroskeptic, the only places to go are the extreme left or the populist right. The extreme left is very solidly stuck in the past; traditional Communist slogans are more likely to get you an amused laugh than a follower these days. So they either stay home or vote for the populists.
So the idea of the union itself is a point of opposition for the right? They're in favor of a more nationalist approach? I understand that your Right, as you were pointing out earlier, is a lot further left than ours, but that seems quite in sync with the Right here and their UN-adverse desire for a simpler, smaller world, as well as the populism.

I'm glad you think it's more of a reaction to the world-wide disillusionment and anger at the failures of the financial system than a generational shift. I'd hate to see Europe cease to be a beacon of lefty enlightenment.

Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
EU elections are often taken as less serious and an opportunity to protest-vote against the national government….My class prejudice tells me that social democratic (working class) voters seem to have gone to the populist/xenophobic right (their voter base consists of disgruntled workers) and that the "intellectual" leftie voters have gone to the greens.
So any change in the numbers of these groups, or just more fervor from people who normally don't bother to get involved—or less fervor from people who are usually more involved?

It should also be noted that the low turnout makes the EU elections very noisy as opinion polls, and election results depend much more on mobilisation compared to national election. Sweden for instance had 43% of the voting age population show up at the polls compared to about 80% for a national election, and that obviously makes the result much less representative. The liberal party that I voted for for instance has much easier to mobilise its core voters than the Social democrats.

EDIT: I also think more voters vote on national rather than EU issues, even though that doesnt make sense from a utilitarian view
That's interesting—so it's more a case of the general leanings of large groups then in the EU elections, and specific important issues are more apt to be decided in national elections?

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June 9th, 2009, 15:54
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
So any change in the numbers of these groups, or just more fervor from people who normally don't bother to get involved—or less fervor from people who are usually more involved?
Mobilisation is highly dependent on socioeconomic factors and that affects the parties disproportionately (usually it hurts the left more). The far right shares a voter base of apathetic and "anti-political" working class voters with the social democratic ("workers") parties and should also suffer from low turnout, but the crisis might just piss these voters off enough to go to the polls. Still the British National Party got fewer votes than last time but managed to gain seats because labour (British social democratic ruling party) got clobbered.

The greens have done a pretty good election across the board and it does seem like their support has increased in absolute numbers.

I dont think there is any significant shift in the size of the potential party bases, such changes are slow (we are talking decades) while election results oscillate pretty wildly.
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June 9th, 2009, 16:53
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
So the idea of the union itself is a point of opposition for the right? They're in favor of a more nationalist approach? I understand that your Right, as you were pointing out earlier, is a lot further left than ours, but that seems quite in sync with the Right here and their UN-adverse desire for a simpler, smaller world, as well as the populism.
We're talking about two different rights here — the Center-Right and the Populist Right. The Center-Right is about where the US Democratic Party is — relatively socially liberal, relatively internationalist and multilateralist, relatively pro-EU, relatively market-friendly, while simultaneously committed to maintaining the redistributive welfare states we have in place.

The Populist Right is about what the Republican Party would be, should the last remaining moderates (Colin Powell, Olympia Snowe, and Meghan McCain?) abandon ship. I.e., a mishmash of nationalists (from vanilla patriots to jingoists and downright racists), social conservatives, libertarians, and protectionists. The one thing that unifies is that they're staunchly anti-EU; the reasons for the position vary.

I'm glad you think it's more of a reaction to the world-wide disillusionment and anger at the failures of the financial system than a generational shift. I'd hate to see Europe cease to be a beacon of lefty enlightenment.
It could happen eventually, but it's not happening now. The center-right is in power largely because it's appropriated the traditional agenda of the center-left: they've promised that they've found a formula that allows us to combine economic freedom and the welfare state. (They're succeeding surprisingly well, too.)

However, I think the losses of the center-left *are* at least partly due to a generational shift. The Social Democratic parties are, by and large, dominated by unionists, who are in their fifties and sixties, and more concerned about maintaining the perks enjoyed by union members than, for example, seriously addressing concerns of the "precariat," globalization, or European integration. They're bleeding away support simply because the old ones are dying off while they're simultaneously preventing them from articulating policies that would attract new blood.

I'm a fairly typical example of this myself. Idelogically, I'm closest to the SDP, but I haven't actually *voted* for them in better part of a decade, for this precise reason — instead, I've been voting Green; the only major disagreement I have with their platform is about their irrational rejection of nuclear power, and that's something I can live with. And I think I'm fairly typical in this sense.

So any change in the numbers of these groups, or just more fervor from people who normally don't bother to get involved—or less fervor from people who are usually more involved?
Mostly, yes.

That's interesting—so it's more a case of the general leanings of large groups then in the EU elections, and specific important issues are more apt to be decided in national elections?
Actually and ironically, most serious issues are decided at the EU level nowadays. However, national elections do impact that level too; when France transitioned from left to right, a quite a lot happened in Brussels.
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June 9th, 2009, 17:47
Did Tories and the Czech right leave from the EPP party because the Lissabon treaty was put forward (Ireland votes on it on autumn IIRC)? That might stir some conversation inside the EU parliament if they form a new party or join other ones.

On BBC's site, UK seem to have lots of seats without a party.
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June 9th, 2009, 21:24
PJ, your analysis of the center-right and Social Democratic parties certainly certainly fits extremely well here in Sweden but I have some kind of perception / prejudice that the big conservative parties of many other EU countries are more traditionally rightist. Or maybe Berlusconi's new party and Poland's Law and Order are the exceptions and/or not as right-wing as I imagined?

Surlent, from what I last heard the Tories are leaving the EPP-ED because the group is too euro-enthusiastic for them. They want to form a new group but that takes 25 MEPs (which they already have) and members from six different countries (which they don't have).
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June 9th, 2009, 21:36
Originally Posted by Toaster View Post
PJ, your analysis of the center-right and Social Democratic parties certainly certainly fits extremely well here in Sweden but I have some kind of perception / prejudice that the big conservative parties of many other EU countries are more traditionally rightist. Or maybe Berlusconi's new party and Poland's Law and Order are the exceptions and/or not as right-wing as I imagined?
I was (in my typically Western European chauvinist fashion) thinking of "Old" Europe; the political field in the ex-Eastern bloc countries is different, and indeed the political center there is a fair bit more to the right. They have been mellowing out, though, and I have a feeling that that will continue.

Italy is the exception, though. Italy always was… special, and Berlusconi has been making it even more… special. (Don't get me wrong, I love Italy, but they should not serve as a role model for political organization for anyone. Except maybe Lebanon.)
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June 9th, 2009, 21:40
Small note about the Pirate Party: There has been a lot of intrusive (IMO) surveillance and IP legislation coming out of the EU lately, copyright for music was just extended to 70 years and more is coming so I certainly think their perspective can be useful in the European Parliament.

That said their stance that noncommercial private sharing of copyrighted material should be legal is a bit extreme for me but a single MEP won't make that happen anyway. That they couldn't promise joining the Greens or ALDE instead of just strongly hinting at it is annoying but I think their voters are okay with them voting with either one on non-"pirate" issues in exchange of some (probably minimal) support of their own agenda. After all, which single MEP can influence every matter where they hold an official opinion anyway?
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June 10th, 2009, 17:41
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
The Populist Right is about what the Republican Party would be, should the last remaining moderates (Colin Powell, Olympia Snowe, and Meghan McCain?) abandon ship. I.e., a mishmash of nationalists (from vanilla patriots to jingoists and downright racists), social conservatives, libertarians, and protectionists. The one thing that unifies is that they're staunchly anti-EU; the reasons for the position vary.
They arent even united by an anti-EU stance or reactionary social policy. The only issue that the populist right shares is xenophobia, as in the fear that them darkies will take our jobs, rob us blind, and live off welfare. Since open borders between the members is at the very core of what the EU is about that makes some but not all of them dislike the project.

Amusingly enough their dislike of foreigners and the shifting definition of what constitutes a darkie make it very hard for them to get along in a pan-european party group. The extra-nutty far right group fractured because Italian fascist Mussolini (yes, the granddaughter of that Mussolini) stated that Romanians are thieving scum, which didnt please the Romanian xenophobes In the slightly less nutty populist right group the Danish People's Party make friends by saying that Scandinavians are smarter than southern Europeans and thus should have more weight in the union
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June 10th, 2009, 17:45
Yeah, they're always good for entertainment.

Our populist party currently has a relatively sane leader, but one of their former MP's provided us with hours of fun, including a shooting incident in his home, after which he spent a while knocked out from a combination of steroids, speed, and alcohol. Eventually cirrhosis and pancreatitis put him sort of out of the picture.

This be him:

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June 10th, 2009, 17:48
Way beyond Chuck Norris..

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June 10th, 2009, 17:53
Yeah, our populists will kick your populists' ass every time. If they're sober enough to stand, anyway.

For comparison, here's the current, relatively sane, populist boss — and brand-new Europarliamentarian. He doesn't have quite the same physique…

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