Protest vote registered across Europe.
Left-wing oppositions made gains against right-wing governments, right-wing opposition forces made inroads against left or centre-left governments, while in other countries, the Euro-skeptics gained votes at the expense of left or right-wing governments. In short, it was a protest vote in which the turnout reached a record low, 43%, spelling a yellow card for Europe’s Eurocrats.
In a perfect scenario, 350 million informed Europeans would have read the political map in 2004 and would have decided that at this moment in history, it would be wise to place as many left-wing politicians in the European Parliament as possible, so as to gain some leverage against the neo-conservative wave from the United States of America, lapping our shores, tapping our resources and sapping our energy.
However, as predicted, the event called the European Parliamentary Elections, 2004, spells a sorry tale of political apathy from a confused and increasingly Euro-skeptical population.
Firstly, hardly anyone knows what they are voting for, what the political groupings are in Strasbourg, what are the powers of the European Parliament and what meaning this organism has over their lives. In Portugal, for example, the governing coalition Forca Portugal (the c cedilla does not register here) sends its two parties to different sides of the house in Strasburg but stands as one in the election.
As the votes are counted and confirmed, the only common factor that seems to be appearing is that the Opposition won across the board and that the people of Europe remain firmly against the illegal act of butchery called the War against Iraq.
Left or centre-left coalitions made gains against right-wing governments in Austria, where the Far Right Freedom Party lost 4 of its 5 seats; France, where the Socialists made most gains; in Italy, where Berlusconiґs coalition saw its share of the vote drop from 29.4% to 21%; in Portugal, where the Socialists and Bloco de Esquerda made significant gains, the Communists held their share and the centre-right and right-wing coalition of PSD/PP, in government and pro-war, were trounced; in Lithuania, the Centre-Left opposition beat the Social Democrats and in Estonia, the centre-right government was the clear loser
Anti-War forces played an important part in Denmark, where the Liberal government was punished for its stance on Iraq by the pro-integrationist Social Democrats and in the Netherlands, where a new anti-War Transparent Europe gained 2 seats. With Spain’s anti-war Socialists holding their share and Portugal’s pro-war right-wing government being thrashed, Europe has spoken loud and clear as to where it stands on Bush’s neo-conservative-dominated foreign policy of bullying, blackmail and belligerence.
Right-wing opposition parties won the elections in Germany, where the Christian Democrats chased Gerhard Schroeder’s SPD to the worst result since the Second World War; in Hungary, where the conservative opposition gained 13 seats and where Europe’s first gypsy Member of the European Parliament was elected; in Slovenia, where the centre-right opposition made inroads against the centre-left; in Latvia, the For Fatherland and Freedom Party ominously turned out to be the outright winner and in Finland, the opposition Conservative National Coalition Party made the greatest gains.
The governing parties maintained their share of the vote in Belgium, where there was a record turnout of 90.08%, seeing the Liberal-Socialist government gain 2 seats; in Greece, where the ruling Conservate Party maintained its distance over the Socialists; in Spain, where the Socialists held their share; in Slovakia, where the government held its share but where less than 17% of the population bothered to vote and in Luxemburg, where Europe’s longest-standing Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker confirmed his lead with an 85% turnout.
Anti-EU or Euro-skeptic forces made gains in the Czech Republic (Civic Democratic party, with 9 of the 24 seats), where the turnout was just 29% and where the ruling Social Democrats received less than 9% of the vote; in Poland, Euro-skeptics and right-wing parties made gains against the centre-left opposition, the turnout being less than 20%; in Sweden, the June List, a Euro-skeptic force, won 14% of the vote; in the UK, both Labour and the main opposition party, the Tories, lost ground against the new anti-EU Independence Party, which gained 9.2% of the share with 2,650,000 votes, more than the well-established Liberal Democrats and in Cyprus, the vote was clearly against reunification.
In Ireland and Malta the trend is yet to be analysed.
In short, a clear vote for a Europe of Nations joined together by a loose trading agreement, allowing as much freedom for maneuver as possible and a vote against a Federation of States controlled by Eurocrats in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxemburg. Nobody was asked whether they wanted this model or not, nobody knows what they are voting for because nobody in these three cities has bothered to explain to Europe’s citizens what they are doing.
Nobody can expect the people of Europe to be democratic when the institutions they are voting for are the most undemocratic in existence anywhere in the world. For the record, the only organism that is directly elected is the only one without any executive power. The Eurocrats would do well to take heed of the vox populi, which has spoken out and delivered a clear message.