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Politics

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: En Europe, la victoire en trompe l’oeil

by Gaël de Santis

Euro-election Results: the Right’s Victory Is a Sham

Despite the right’s gains in Strasbourg, the ruling right-wing parties in several countries have actually lost ground.

Translated Friday 12 June 2009, by Isabelle Métral

The right has more seats in the Euro-Parliament. But despite its coming first in the election, the ruling rightwing parties’ declining share of the vote in several countries is evidence enough of the voters’ disaffection. In one country, namely Greece, where the ruling New Democracy (ND) lost many votes to PASOK (the opposition socialist party) and to the Far-Right, down from its 43.06% share of the vote in the 2004 election to its present 32.33%. In other countries though the right came first it nevertheless lost ground.

In Germany, Angela Merkel’s CDU (the Christian Democratic Union) and the CSU, its Bavarian ally, lost nearly 7%, though not to the left but mostly to the FDP, the liberal party, which jumped from 6.1% to 11%. In Austria, all of the conservative ÔDP’s losses (3%) boosted the returns of Martin’s populist list and the Far-Right parties (FPÖ and BZÖ), with no benefit for the social democrats. In Italy Silvio Berlusconi did not do as well as in the April 2008 national election. His party lost three points, two of which went to his firebrand ally of the Northern League. Sweden’s Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt’s centre-right party lost 7 points on the 2006 general election and came second behind the social democrats.

In all cases, part of the voters turned away from the ruling rightwing parties, their disaffection showing in a lower turnout or benefiting centre-right forces like Italy’s UDC or Germany’s FDP, or, in some cases, the Far-Right. But the Left seems to have been at pains to turn the voters’ disaffection to profit.

In the three socialist-ruled countries, conservatives are on the rise but only slightly. In the UK, conservative gains were only 1.4% on 2004, while nationalist forces pulled off an upset. In Spain, the People’s Party came first before Jose-Luis Rodriguez-Zapatero’s socialists. But the gain on 2004 was only 1%. In Portugal, though, the PSD right-wing party won a surprise victory against Socrates’ socialists. If the socialist rout in the Euro-Parliament is real enough, it does not for all that reflect a sudden massive conversion to the conservative EPP’s free-market theory or governance.


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