Conservatives score wins in EU parliament voting
06-08-2009 08:54 AM
Conservatives score wins in EU parliament voting
BRUSSELS – Center-right parties hailed European Parliament election victories as a continent-wide vote for conservative approaches to the economic crisis and pledged Monday to forge ahead.
Right-leaning governments came out ahead in Germany, France, Italy and Belgium, while conservative opposition parties won in Britain and Spain.
Many Socialists ran campaigns that slammed center-right leaders for failing to rein in financial markets and spend enough to stimulate faltering economies. But voters did not embrace their cause.
"The center-right has been addressing the economic crisis," said Sara Hagemann, an analyst at the Brussels-based European Policy Center think tank. "The center-left parties failed to sell that message."
Voters angry over poor economic conditions and political scandals punished ruling parties of both stripes in Greece, Austria, Spain, Britain, Bulgaria, Ireland, Hungary and the tiny island of Malta.
And the June 4-7 elections which ended Sunday across the 27-nation bloc saw only 43 percent of 375 million eligible voters cast ballots for representatives to the 736-seat EU legislature. The record low turnout pointed to enduring voter apathy about the European Union.
It was a discouraging sign for EU officials hoping Irish voters will approve stronger powers for the EU in a fall referendum.
European Commission President Manuel Barroso blamed politicians across the European Union.
"National politicians, whose debates all too often remain largely national in their focus, must acknowledge themselves more consistently as both national and European actors," he said.
The European Union said center-right parties were expected to take the most seats — 267. Center-left parties were headed for 159. Green and pro-EU parties captured 51 seats, while far-right and anti-EU parties won around 40 seats. The remainder went to smaller groupings.
Reeling from an expenses scandal, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's center-left Labour party finished third behind the anti-European U.K. Independence Party — a crushing defeat that cast more doubt on Brown's future. The Conservatives are expected to win Britain's next national elections.
The vote also saw the all-white British National Party pick up two seats in the EU assembly — joining far-right parties from the Netherlands, Hungary and Austria that excoriated Muslims, immigrants and minorities.
Voters in Italy handed a tepid win to scandal-plagued Premier Silvio Berlusconi and rewarded the anti-immigrant party in his coalition. The 72-year-old billionaire media mogul spent much of the campaign fighting off his wife's allegations of an improper relationship with an 18-year-old model.
Germans handed a lackluster victory to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives but a historic defeat to their center-left *****s, a result that comes only months before Germany holds its own national election.
"We are the force that is acting level-headedly and correctly in this financial and economic crisis," said Volker Kauder, the leader of Merkel's party in the German parliament.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy's governing conservatives trounced the Socialists, while an ecology-minded party vaulted to a surprisingly strong third place.
"We will continue to modernize France," Prime Minister Francois Fillon said, vowing to loosen France's labor rules to make the country more competitive internationally.
"Tonight is a very difficult evening for Socialists in many nations in Europe," admitted Martin Schulz, the leader of the Socialists in the European parliament.
Austria's big winner was the rightist Freedom Party, which more than doubled its strength over the 2004 elections to 13.1 percent of the vote. It campaigned on an anti-Islam platform.
In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders' anti-Islamic party took 17 percent of the country's votes, winning four of 25 seats.
Three of 22 seats in Hungary went to the far-right Jobbik party, which describes itself as Euro-skeptic and anti-immigration. Critics say the party is racist and anti-Semitic.
The EU parliament has evolved over five decades from a consultative legislature to one with the power to vote on or amend two-thirds of all EU laws. Lawmakers get five-year terms and residents vote for lawmakers from their own countries.
The assembly's increasingly influential lawmaking affects issues ranging from climate change to cell-phone roaming charges.
The parliament can also amend the EU budget — euro120 billion ($170 billion) this year — and approves candidates for the European Commission, the EU administration and the board of the European Central Bank.
06-08-2009 02:02 PM
Nice to see Europe might be waking up from the sleep of socialist apathy, too bad some of the conservative parties seem to be tainted by racism though. It is interesting to see this change of the tide.
06-08-2009 02:06 PM
yeah, I would think that germany with its decline in population should be questioning how sustainable their policies really are long term.
I personally tend to believe that most "progressive" thought is "dilutive" thought - that it takes away from the meaning of things. You give children "participation" trophies so nobody's feelings get hurt yet you dilute the value of actually putting in effort to win as your reward is identical to what someone who didn't practice gets. Although thats not particularly related, I think its a good analogy to what we see in terms of progressive government policies.
06-08-2009 03:47 PM
Easy - I coached my first T-Ball team in 1994 and was told by the league that they didn't keep score. I laughed and said - my team will. Kids must learn that there are winners and losers in everything in life. The sooner they learn that, the better. There were parents and coaches that complained. We went 19-1 that season. We had blown every team out for the first 16 games, the kids on both teams knew what was happening even though there were no scores. The "team Mom" kept a scorebook and the kids stats. The game they lost, I let it happen. Everyone had to play the same amount of innings, at-bats, etc., and I let our team lose to prove a point, and make sure they knew that feeling. Even at 5 years old, kids can learn that lesson with dignity. Sure, there were some tears, but they learned from it.
I moved on to coach 9/10 year olds because scores were kept, and the kids were still young enough that the parents weren't total jerks living vicariously through their kids yet. But guess what - a movement came along to stop keeping score there too because a particular team coached by a particular person hadn't won a game in 2 years and it wasn't "fair" to his kids to always lose. BS. I let them know they were raising pansies and turned in my clipboard.
06-08-2009 04:07 PM
Was that here in Tampa? i didn't realize it had gotten so bad here yet. Friends of mine live in Denver which is a communist state by my reckoning, so it wasn't a surprise to me when they banned tag and hide and go seek in the playgrounds as some children were frightened by seeing other children being chased....
06-08-2009 04:16 PM
That article is slightly misleading, the centre-right have retained their lead but they've still lost seats. The parties that have gained the most are mostly far-right fringe parties with strong anti-immigration policies.
I noticed my own home country gave two seats to a neo-nazi skinhead party. Nice. Kind of reminds why I left in the first place.
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