viernes, 12 de junio de 2009

The EU Swings to the Right

European Parliament Election Results by Country
The June 4-7 European Parliament elections delivered a setback for the European left and gains for center-right and right-wing parties across the continent. SPIEGEL ONLINE gives an overview of the results by country.

The 2009 elections to the European Parliament were marked by historically low voter turnout and victories for center-right and right-wing parties. SPIEGEL ONLINE provides a country-by-country breakdown of the election results.

In Austria, the ruling Social Democrats (SPÖ) suffered a serious setback. The SPÖ fell to 23.8 percent, a drop of more than 9 percent, giving it its worst-ever result in a nationwide election. The Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), which is in a grand coalition government with the SPÖ, came first with 29.7 percent, a drop of about three percentage points compared to 2004. A party founded by the euroskeptic journalist and politician Hans-Peter Martin gained 4 percent to win 17.9 percent of the vote, making it the third strongest party. The right-wing populist Freedom Party (FPÖ) won just over 13 percent, a gain of nearly seven percentage points, while the Greens slipped from over 12 percent in 2004 to just 9.5 percent. The Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ), a right-wing populist party founded by the late Jörg Haider, got just 4.7 percent and failed to make the 5 percent hurdle.

In Belgium, the ruling Christian Democrats came out on top, winning 15 percent, ahead of the Liberal Democrats at 13 percent. The far-right Vlaams Belang or Flemish Interest Party was the obvious loser, falling from 14 to 10 percent, about the same level as the francophone Socialist Party (PS). The Green Party Ecolo, meanwhile, more than doubled its support to 8 percent.

In Bulgaria, the ruling left-leaning Coalition for Bulgaria alliance suffered a setback, winning only around 19 percent of the vote according to preliminary results. The conservative opposition party GERB came first with around 26 percent, while the euroskeptic nationalists of the Ataka Party won more than 11 percent. The election was overshadowed by allegations of vote-rigging, with reports that votes had been bought. The going price for a vote was up to 40 leva (€20), the state radio reported. Experts from the Center for the Study of Democracy in Sofia had calculated in the run-up to the election that the parties would spend at least €6 million buying votes.

The conservative opposition Democratic Rally (DISY), on the Greek half of Cyprus, had the strongest showing with 36 percent. (The Greek half of Cyprus is the only side that belongs to the EU.) The incumbent, left-leaning Progress Party of Working People (AKEL) received a shade less support at 35 percent.

In the Czech Republic, the conservative Civic Democratic Party (ODS) succeeded in defending its position as the leading party. According to preliminary results, ODS garnered slightly more than 31 percent of the vote, followed by the center-left Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) with around 22 percent and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM), which got 14 percent. In addition, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) cleared the 5 percent hurdle to enter the parliament with around 8 percent of the votes. Until new elections are held in October, the Czech Republic is to be led by a crossbench cabinet of experts led by Prime Minister Jan Fischer. The center-right government of ODS politician Mirek Topolanek fell in March following a vote of no confidence in parliament.

In Denmark, the right-wing populist, anti-immigrant Danish People's Party (DVP) led the election. The party increased its share of the vote from 6.8 percent in the last EU election to 15 percent. Since 2001, the party has been the largest in the populist minority government in Copenhagen and is also considered the driving force behind Denmark's tightening of its policies towards foreigners living in the country. The country's opposition Social Democrats suffered a sharp drop at the polling booth, falling from 32.6 percent to 21 percent. Nevertheless, the party still remains, by a slight margin, the country's biggest vote-getting party, just ahead of Prime Minster Lars Lokke Rasmussen's Liberal Party, which scored 20 percent. The Socialist People's Party (SF), the country's socialist and Green party, came in at 16 percent.

In Estonia, the opposition Center Party is out in front with 26 percent, followed by the Reform Party of the incumbent Prime Minister Andrus Ansip at 15 percent. The opposition conservative Res Publica party have 12 percent, while the Social Democrats, who are also members of the coalition government, are at around 9 percent.

In Finland, right-wing populists known for their anti-foreigner rhetoric gained massive ground. The True Finns party increased its share of the vote from 0.5 percent in the last European election in 2004 to 10 percent after joining forces in the election with the conservative Christian Democrats. The second biggest winner was the Green Party, which shares power in the Finnish government, scoring 12 percent in the election. The liberal Center Party of Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen scored around 20 percent and his conservative coalition partner, the National Coalition Party, got more than 22 percent, while the Social Democrats came in at 18 percent.

President Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling conservative UMP party won an easy victory in France, getting 28 percent of the vote. The Socialist Party (PS), a sister party to Germany's Social Democrats, earned only 17 percent -- slightly more than Daniel Cohn-Bendit's Greens, who won 16 percent.

In Greece, according to preliminary results, the socialist PASOK party came in first, winning 36.7 percent of the vote. The conservative ruling party, New Democracy, only managed about 32 percent. The Greek communist KKE party, which won around 8 percent of the vote, will also be represented in the new European Parliament, as will the ultra-conservative LAOS party (around 7 percent), the left-wing Syriza (around 5 percent) and -- for the first time -- the Greek Greens (around 3.5 percent).

In Hungary, the conservative opposition won a landslide victory. According to preliminary results, the Fidesz Party of former Prime Minister Viktor Orban won around 56 percent. The ruling Socialists received only about 17 percent, putting it only slightly ahead of the right-wing Jobbik party, which won about 15 percent.

In Ireland, the incumbent conservative Fianna Fail party of Prime Minister Brian Cowen won only 24 percent, a loss of about 6 percentage points, which means it is no longer the strongest Irish political force in Brussels. Opposition party Fine Gael managed 29 percent. Observers see the results as a condemnation of the Cowen government's domestic policies; the financial crisis has hit Ireland hard. The head of the Libertas party, Declan Ganley, who wants to build momentum for a euroskeptic movement across the entire EU, won just over 5 percent, leaving Libertas in sixth place. The businessman has said he would end his campaign against the Lisbon Treaty if it were to fail at the polls. A referendum planned in Ireland for the fall to ratify the Lisbon Treaty now has a better chance of success.

In Italy, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's party easily won the most support. Early results showed his People of Freedom (PdL) party at 35 percent; its coalition partner the Northern League managed around 10 percent. The center-left opposition Democratic Party (PD), however, earned only 27 percent. They were hoping for signs of weakness in Berlusconi's party as a result of recent scandals involving the prime minister.

In Latvia, the parties of the country's Russian minority celebrated surprising successes. The left-wing party coalition Harmony Center garnered around 20 percent of the votes -- twice as many as predicted. The movement For Human Rights in United Latvia, which also represents the Russian minority, came in at around 10 percent. The election's winner, however, was the Civic Union, a party established only last year, with around 24 percent.

The governing conservative Homeland Union - Lithuania Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) party in Lithuania proved to be the strongest force in the European election. According to the first results, the party garnered around 25 percent of the vote, ahead of the left-leaning Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP), which came in at 19 percent.

In Luxembourg, Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker's party not only won the national election, but also the European election. The Christian Social People's Party (CSV) garnered around 31 percent of the votes, the liberal Democratic Party (DP) and the social democratic Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party (LSAP) both got 19 percent, while the Greens came in at 17 percent.

In Malta, too, the conservative ruling PN party came second with just 41 percent of the vote, while the opposition center-left Labour Party (PL) won first place with 55 percent. The PL obviously benefited from its criticism of the government over its allegedly lax attitude to the increasing number of immigrants arriving by boat from Africa.

In the Netherlands, one party was already celebrating victory before the EU-wide elections had finished, a party that until now hasn't counted as one of the country's established parties. Politician Geert Wilders' anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV) has now become the country's second-largest political force in Brussels, garnering around 17 percent of the votes. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's center-right Christian Democrats (CDA) secured around 20 percent of the vote, and his coalition partner, the center-left Dutch Labor Party (PvDA), got 12 percent. Celebrating together with his supporters, Wilders said the Freedom Party's success was a vote against EU membership for Turkey, against an increasingly large and expensive European Union and against the Dutch government.

In Poland, the center-right incumbent parties have maintained their edge. Prime Minister Donald Tusk's Civic Platform (PO) earned around 45 percent, while the nationalist-conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS), led by President Lech Kaczynski, ran a distant second place with 29 percent. The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) won 12 percent, while the Polish People's Party (PSL) -- a partner in the ruling coalition which along with Civic Platform belongs to the conservative EPP grouping in the European Parliament -- earned 8 percent.

In Portugal, the ruling Socialist Party (PS) of Prime Minister Jose Socrates suffered an unexpected defeat, winning around 27 percent, a significant drop compared to its 2004 result of 44.5 percent. The opposition conservative Social Democratic Party (PSD) won around 32 percent, a similar result to 2004. The big winner in Portugal was the Left Bloc (BE), an association of radical left-wing parties and independents, which almost doubled its share of the vote to over 10 percent.

In Romania, preliminary results show the governing parties Democratic Liberal Party (PDL, center-right) and Social Democratic Party (PSD) each pulling in more than 30 percent of votes. Ranking third is the opposition, business-friendly National Liberal Party (PNL) with around 17 percent, followed by the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) with around 9 percent. The far-right Greater Romania Party (PRM) garnered around 7 percent and will again have seats in the European Parliament.

In Slovakia, the ruling party also came out ahead. The Direction - Social Democracy party of Prime Minister Robert Fico won 32 percent of the vote -- twice as much as the strongest opposition party, the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU) headed by ex-Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda, which won 17 percent. The extreme-right Slovak National Party had a surprisingly weak showing with 5.5 percent. Voter turnout in Slovakia was particularly low, at 19.6 percent.

The conservative opposition did well in Slovenia, where the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) founded by former Prime Minister Janez Jansa came first with about 27 percent of the vote, according to initial results. The Social Democrats of acting Prime Minister Boris Pahor won more than 18 percent while the conservative New Slovenia party (NSI) won about 16 percent. The liberal parties LDS and Zares won around 11.5 percent and 10 percent respectively.

In Spain, the conservative People's Party won over 42 percent of the vote, gaining 23 seats, compared to the 38.5 percent (21 seats) won by the ruling center-left Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. The remaining seats were divided up between smaller and regional parties. The PSOE had already announced in the run-up to the election that it would be satisfied with a draw or a narrow defeat.

In Sweden the opposition Social Democrats came first, with 25 percent of the vote, while Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's conservative Moderate Party (MS) earned about 19 percent. The Greens doubled their support to about 11 percent. But the Pirate Party won the most spectacular victory -- by earning its first seat in Brussels with an 8 percent share of the vote. The Pirate Party wants more rights for Internet users and free flow of data on the Web. Support for the party rose in polls after a court verdict against the Internet data-swap site The Pirate Bay, which is based in Sweden. The four men in charge were sentenced to a €2.7 million fine and one year in jail for abetting data piracy.

Among the election's biggest losers was the Labour party in the United Kingdom, which saw its support drop from 19 seats in 2004 to 11 and won just 15.3 percent of the vote -- its worst post-war election result. It finished in third place behind the Conservatives (24 seats) and the euroskeptic United Kingdom Independence Party (13 seats). The vote is seen as a damning verdict on Labour, whose leader Gordon Brown is under increasing pressure to resign as prime minister amid an ongoing expense account scandal in the House of Commons. Fourth and fifth place went to the Liberals and the Greens with 13.9 percent and 8.7 percent respectively. The far-right British National Party won four seats -- the first time Britain has elected right-wing extremists to the European Parliament.

Source: Der Spiegel, 06/08/2009

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