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Thursday, June 17, 2004
The decline in votes in the East is a biting indictment on the whole European bureaucracy. As Wolfgang Böhmer, head of the government in Saxony-Anhalt, said, "When people in East Germany marched in 1989 for the right to vote in free elections, and when 15 years later nobody votes in those elections, something has gone wrong." The vote all over Europe was very low and this indicates that the politicians in Brussels have lost touch with the people they are supposed to represent, a worrying development in Europe, the cradle of democracy.
The interesting result for me was in Sweden, because my 'kompis' Carl-Johan was a candidate for a newly registered party, Högerpartiet de konservativa (Right-Conservatives). (Kalle's the serious-looking one in the black suit and tie). The Right-Conservative party was important because it was the only non-socialist Swedish Eurosceptic party in the election - a party that was right/conservative/christian, in the sense of being neither socialist nor liberal. It calls for a return to Swedish "monarchist, christian and cultural" values and traditions, and warns of "a world without God, without Swedishness, without right and wrong, and without meaning." The party platform continues, "We were here before the left. We will remain when the left has disappeared."
As a new, small party with non-existent media exposure, the Right-Conservative Party had little chance of winning a seat in the EU Parliament, particularly since Sweden's representation has dropped to only 19 seats. However, one of the two left-Eurosceptic blocs, Junilistan, shocked many by gaining not one seat, as expected, but three. Given the balance of media coverage and the cursory attention many voters seem to have given to the election, it is perhaps not unreasonable to assume that a significant number of Junilistan voters would have voted for a Right-Conservative Eurosceptic party, had they been aware of that option. Aside from the Centre Party, which retained its one seat, all parties with representation in the EU Parliament lost a seat each, three of those seats going to Junilistan.
It will be very interesting to see how these election results across Europe will influence the European Parliament and whether the new parties will last. It will also be interesting to see whether this prefigures an increasing domestic disenchantment with establishment parties in many European countries.
The following table shows the election results in Sweden in terms of seats. I have given a short clarifying comment on some of the parties, using terminology that might be helpful to Australians:
|Social Democratic Worker's Party||Mainstream labor party, normally gets a large majority||5||6|
|Moderates||Right Liberals (dries)||4||5|
|Junilistan||New left-oriented Eurosceptic party||3||-|
|Liberal People's Party||Small-l Gladstonian liberals (wets)||2||3|
|The Left Party||Rebranded Swedish communist party||2||3|
|The Green Environment Party||1||2|