European Elections warning call or more of the same?
After seeing the hysterical headline in today's Globe and Mail Angry Europe Embraces the Fringe, I figured that maybe we were starting to see a repeat of pre-World War II in Europe where a split and factional left allowed for the rise of the extreme right; although this time it would be the shift to the right of the social democrats and failure of the left to re-invent itself. So I went to the UK Guardian, who were barely talking about the elections at all so ho hum were the results to them and then to Open Democracy, where I found a rational discussion of the election results and the failure of the European Parliament to attract citizens to vote at all. With the exception of the election of a member of the Pirate Party of Sweden, ahoy, it seems that most people looking for alternatives didn't bother to vote at all. If people who want progressive change see no point in elections and parties of the left fail to see the challenge to electoral democracy the way it is practiced in Europe and Canada, the dominance of the Right can continue and anyone who thinks that doesn't matter hasn't lived in Canada for the last couple of years.
Nevertheless none of these observers of European politics whom I trust saw the election as significant. The voter turnout was only 40 percent so the election was more a referendum on the significance of the European Parliament to most people, nevertheless it might be a warning call.
The Guardian did comment on the election of two BNP members, which they saw as a protest vote against Labour, not unlike the Reform Party vote in BC in the 1993 election but nevertheless a serious concern given that it is an openly racist party that does not allow Black people to belong.
In Open Democracy John Palmer sees the results of the election predictible but asks an important question, " at a time of profound economic crisis, is how it was that the centre-right government parties in Germany, France, Italy and elsewhere were able to steal so many of the policy clothes of the social democrats – especially on economic issues such as public spending and stricter financial regulation – and emerge stronger in this election"
In an article published before the election Red Pepper analyzes why those who really want to see change don't vote in European elections. This is where I really see the warning call.