May 27, 2014

Why EU election results not as dire — or exciting — as you think

Relax, there is not a continent-wide shift towards fascism in the European Union. The recent EU elections are more about countrywide dissatisfaction than a terrifying move to the far Right.

Charles Richardson — Editor of The World is not Enough

Charles Richardson

Editor of The World is not Enough

The European media are full of angst this morning over the results of elections to the European Parliament, which concluded on Sunday. The elections are being spun as a big victory for extremists and Eurosceptics, throwing the direction of the European Union into doubt. Extremists topped the polls in Britain, France, Greece and Denmark, and scored major gains elsewhere.

There’s certainly some basis for concern, but things are not as dire — or as exciting — as you might think. To understand why, you first need to know a few things about the European Parliament.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

4 thoughts on “Why EU election results not as dire — or exciting — as you think

  1. AR

    It would be congenial to dream that the significant drop (both in percentage & total vote) of Wilders’ party is because the dour Dutch tried first, as they do most things,the raving alternative and have said no thanks.

  2. condel

    the eu – i wish i could be be a member – only if i could let my membership lapse – if i found it was not my cup of tea.

  3. David

    Charles – spot on about the numbers.

    There are though two big stories from this election that have almost entirely been missed here – nothing to do with the rise of the loony soufflé.

    Usually the heads of national governments in the Council nominate the Commission President and then seek approval from the Parliament. For the first time, the Parliamentary blocs ran with named candidates to lead the Commission and have now voted for Jean Claude Juncker to be be the President. This leaves the Council looking a bit slow.

    That’s significant because it starts to look like a national parliament, with the elected representatives in turn electing the head of government. It also means the new president should feel less beholden to the member states and freer to press the case against UKIP, Front Nationale et al.

    The other noticeable thing is that those candidates were referred to as “Spitzenkandidaten”… really the first time a German word has been universally applied to an EU concept. The left candidate was Germany’s Martin Schulz and the centre-right’s was Juncker -a Luxemburger with close ties to Merkel. There is some push back from the member states in the Council but the only way Juncker will be passed over is if Merkel agrees.

    So while the Brits and French were noisily casting their votes for their own irrelevance, the Germans quietly get on with running the show.

  4. Charles Richardson

    Thanks David – that’s a really interesting point. I’d got used to seeing the term “Spitzenkandidaten” but had never thought about the novelty of giving such currency to a German term. It’s much more common to see French terms, like “non-inscrits”. A sign of the times, perhaps.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details