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Politics & Current Affairs

Except For Swedish Pirates, Old Europe Gains At The Polls

Center-right parties have won a majority of seats in Europe’s Parliamentary elections, the results of which were released today. If you thought the financial crisis had given capitalism a bad name, election results show E.U. politicians have done their part as well.

In Spain, the standing socialist government lost seats to its conservative opposition and acknowledged “the warning” sent to them by voters concerned about the economy. At 18.1 percent, Spain has the highest unemployment rate in Europe.

Though the next presidential election in Spain is three years away, La Vanguardia reports that Rafael Rajoy, the leader of the conservative party and a presidential hopeful, is calling for a vote of no confidence against President José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

The Right made its mark in other national contests as well.

Britain’s Conservative party outperformed Labour making it even more difficult for the embattled Gordon Brown to reassure supporters he can survive the calls for his resignation. Labour took third in the E.U. election behind Ukip whose platform calls for the U.K.’s withdrawal from the E.U.

Since the rejection of the E.U. Constitution four years ago, Europe has been searching for a way forward. The elections, however, show that the popular attitude toward the E.U. is more skeptical than ever with only a 43 percent turnout, the lowest in the history of the Parliament.

In an interview for Le Monde Denish MacShane, Minister of European Affairs under Tony Blair, said that we are witnessing a “renationalisation of Europe.”

“Europeans are afraid, afraid for their work, their salary, their standard of living, the future for their children. In this anxious atmosphere, the electorate was put on the defensive.”

Still, center-right parties did not gain all the new ground.

Green parties won more seats than expected in what is seen as one of the E.U.’s primary responsibilities: environmental policy. Global warming is the most daunting political and moral challenge today and the one policy issue that most clearly extends beyond national boundaries.

If liberals are looking for solace in Europe’s right-hand turn toward nationalism, they can congratulate Sweden’s Pirate Party which will fight for shorter copyright terms and non-commercial file sharing between individuals.

Winning 7.1 percent of Sweden’s electorate, they now occupy their first seat in Brussels.


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