Sunday, June 07, 2009

It's happening all over

The Labour Party won the European Parliament elections by a landslide, garnering 57 percent of the first count votes. That is the news from Malta, based on early samples taken as the sorting of votes started.

Thus, while we (or some of us) are immersed in the train wreck that is British politics, awaiting tonight's results which will tell us how badly the government party has fared, this is an early sign that there is a significant anti-government movement sweeping the whole of EUrope.

Everywhere, it seems government parties are braced to take heavy losses at the polls and, with the citizens of 19 of the 27 EU member states going through the charade today of electing MEPs, poor turnouts are being reported which further intensifies this expected trend.

José Manuel thingy has been jumping up and down in his native Portugal, exhorting "European citizens" to head for the ballot boxes to elect an EU parliament, his reward being a turnout which is expected to fall below the 45.5 percent record (for low turnouts).

As well as Malta, we now see in Holland Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom came second with 17 percent of the vote, winning four seats in the parliament, with prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende's Christian Democrats finishing with less than 20 percent of the vote. Austria may deliver the FPOe a win 14-17 percent of the vote, three times more than in 2004.

In Greece, where voting is obligatory, the lack of enthusiasm for the main political parties is expected to lead to a 35 percent abstention rate. There, the conservative party has a one-seat parliamentary majority in the Greek parliament and, like the UK, an early general election is considered a real possibility if it fails to retain its presence in the European parliament.

Ireland is also set to deliver some interesting results, where we have also seen the results of the local elections and two by-elections, which delivered rebuke to the two government parties. Fianna Fail, the party of Mr Cowen, received 24.55 percent of the first preference vote, 7.5 percent down on 2004. The euros are expected to go the same way, with Declan Ganley's Libertas party expected to exceed poll expectations.

Interestingly, share in some places is as high as 30 percent, way above the 9 percent poll predictions. Says Sean Ganley, brother of Declan, "Clearly the polls have been completely inaccurate but the people haven't allowed themselves to be misled by inaccurate polls."

One wonders if UK polls are going to prove similarly "inaccurate", giving Labour – and perhaps even the Tories – a bigger shock than anticipated. If so, the "others" could indeed be on a roll.

We'll open up a running post just after eight this evening, ready to report the results - with analysis - as they come in.