On Memorial Day (May 26th this year) while Americans remembered those who died to protect their freedoms, Europeans find themselves in a new kind of battle for freedom, one waged at the ballot box. There they seek freedom from the tyranny of the European Union (EU), and/or the Euro. Citizens of the United Kingdom (UK) and the Netherlands went to the polls last Thursday, and the last polls across Europe closed Sunday (a traditional voting day in many places) to elect Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). The significance of this election is not in the power of those elected, for in fact MEPs have very little power, as the real power of the EU is in the hands of unelected officials. The significance of this election is in the parties to which they belong and their platforms, for this was dress rehearsal for national elections, many of them in 2015, which is where the real power is in any nation.
The European Union emerged from the European Economic Community founded in 1957, this in turn was founded as a means to unite Europe in a common trade agreement in an effort to avoid another war. World War II was thought to have been the result of excessive nationalism, hence a union of nations was/is considered good and nationalism and patriotism bad. This meme of the elite and their institutions have been a regular drumbeat over the last 60+ years, as they, in common with most generals throughout history are obsessed with winning the last war. Hence, avoidance of war (plus creating a socialist utopia) has been the driving vision in Europe ever since the last great war.
In the name of union and unity the European Union built a headquarters in Brussels, the capital of a country an artificial country, Belgium, created in 1830 in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars. The French however, still longing for glory of the past, could not of course let this abide, hence once a month the entire establishment, MEPs, their staffs, all their papers, etc., etc. leave Brussels and move a short distance to Strasburg, France for a week. There are other time and money wasting facets of the EU, but needless to say the poor European taxpayer has been paying for all of this, without any say in the matter. Now finally they have had enough and are beginning to fight back. Throughout Europe, and most notably in the UK, parties whose main purpose is to remove their country from the EU have met with considerable success.
To sum it all up: the right, the far-right, and euro-sceptic (some on the left) parties won big throughout Europe. Further details below:
In the United Kingdom the big winner was Ukip (United Kingdom Independent Party) as it won throughout the UK and puts into serious doubt the future of both the Conservative (RINO by American standards) and Labour parties. Furthermore this election may well mean the permanent demise of the Liberal Democrat party.
The UK had the good fortune, thanks to the late Prime Minister Dame Margaret Thatcher, to have not replaced the British pound with the now troubled euro. But on other fronts Britain has been seriously damaged by membership in the EU as it requires open borders which has allowed many Eastern Europeans into the country who have not assimilated and are often wards of the state (of course this is not true of all, but there have been significant numbers). It has also impacted Britain in many other ways as the UK has largely turned over its sovereignty to the EU.
There is a real possibility that the UK will leave the EU – it is an unnatural alliance to begin with as the British never considered themselves Europeans until it was forced upon them. Everyone in Britain over about 50 years of age remembers when the UK joined the EU and how prices on everything skyrocketed, whereas before food stuffs previously imported from as far away as New Zealand, now came from Europe and were more expensive. The British have not forgotten this, and are well aware that Britain, after the failures of Baldwin and Chamberlin, stood up to the Nazis and with the leadership of Churchill and the economic help of America, saved Europe.
In Britain, the source of the concepts of freedom, individualism, and liberty there is resentment towards the tyranny of the EU – this was evidence in Ukip’s big win last week, and the start of their efforts to remove the UK from the EU. Britain is an island nation, close to Europe geographically but it has always had a very distinctive history and culture - the seeds of EU rejection have been planted now so we can look forward to its growth.
The Netherlands – is the one country in Europe that is most akin to Britain in its history and outlook. It has a staunchly conservative and euro-sceptic party in the form of Geert Wilder’s Party for Freedom (PVV), which did not meet expectations. Possibly this was because Ukip rejected an alliance with them, hence PVV allied themselves with the far-right National Front in France. While geographically this was a good fit, psychologically and politically it was not. As a fairly new party in a fairly small country PVV may have believed they needed an alliance. But hindsight is 20-20 and it may have been better off as a stand-alone party. An alliance with Ukip may have helped PVV but it might have injured Ukip in the UK.
France’s Front National (FN) Party was founded by Jean-Marie LePen, now retired, and is now lead by his lawyer daughter Marine LePen. Jean-Marie is a reputed anti-semite, but his daughter is not. The party is not only euro-sceptic and wants France out of the European Union, it wants to stop immigration, and believes in lower taxes, less bureaucracy and the promotion of capitalism. The current President of France, François Hollande has become extremely unpopular in the two years since he was inaugurated and the next French presidential election is scheduled to be held in the spring of 2017, when French voters will be thoroughly tired of him, and his failed socialist policies.
Germany may be immune to the euro-scepticism but it is not immune to an anti-euro stance. While the center –right pro-EU coalition under Chancellor Angela Merkel won 35.5 percent of the vote, The Alternative For Germany (AfD) Party wants Germany to remain in the EU but it strongly opposes the euro which has forced the German taxpayer to underwrite the bailouts of Eurozone economies. The AfD only took 7 percent of the vote and will send seven members to the EU Parliament, yet this is a good sign. After all, it is Germany, and in Germany there is a fear that leaving the EU could lead to the revival of nationalist spirits (aka Nazism). So it is somewhat remarkable that Germany had such a turn-out at all. This means that at least 42.5 percent of the voters are fiscally conservative, despite the fact that in Germany, like most of the West, the media is heavily left-leaning in every way, given to slogans, and not very thoughtful. (Incidentally, it must be remembered that the Nazis were socialist, not far-right bigots as they are so often betrayed – but don’t tell the media or the elites that as they simply won’t believe you.)
In Austria the euro-sceptic Austrian Freedom Party came in third with nineteen point five per cent. Austria is a fairy prosperous country but is worried by immigration.
Denmark’s euro-sceptic Danish People’s Party (DPP) won 26.6 per cent of the vote and went from two to four MEPs out of Denmark’s total of 13 seats. Curbing benefits paid to non-citizens from other EU countries living in Denmark and taking control of their borders are major issues for the DPP. Furthermore the Conservative Party’s David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, refused DPP attempt to join the Conservative group at the EU Parliament in 2009 on the basis that they found some of DPP’s policies objectionable. It is now becoming clear that Cameron actually was trying to either punish DPP for its alliance with Ukip, or coerce DPP to join them and abandon Ukip. The Ukip win should be a plus for DPP.
Italy’s anti-euro, anti-EU Five Star Movement led by Beppo Grillo received twenty-five point five percent while the governing Democrat Party received thirty-four point five percent of the vote even though national growth has begun shrinking again.
Spain’s very new Podemos (‘We Can’) Party was not taken seriously until they took five seats and eight percent in the election. Unlike most euro-skeptic parties Podemos is very much a party of the left and appeals to those who have been hurt the most by Spanish membership in the EU, those at the bottom economic ladder. And they very usually vote for the left. Podemos isn’t euro-sceptic but is opposed to EU imposed austerity in Spain which is some ways is close to being euro-sceptic.
Greece’s left-wing Syriza Party placed first in the Greek elections and they demand that austerity policies, put into place to satisfy demands by the EU and IMF, to deal with the Greek debt, be abandoned. Furthermore Greece’s Golden Dawn party, generally thought to be neo-Nazi, which is anti-EU now has three seats in the EU.
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