Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

by Fran on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 02:10:38 PM EST
EUobserver / Greens make giant leap in France

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European Greens, the only party grouping to increase its representation in the European Parliament, made a shocking leap forward in France and almost pushed the opposition Socialists into third place.

Elsewhere in Europe, however, the continent that obsessed itself with discussion of climate change and the need to rapidly develop legislation to combat the planetary crisis, results for the ecologists were a mixed bag, losing a smattering of seats in a number of key member states while winning a handful elsewhere.

Flying the flag for the Greens

In total, according to the European Parliament's estimates, the Greens together with their allies are up to 51 seats from 43 in 2004, although the figures are still likely to shift in the coming days. The result is all the more impressive in that the total number of seats within the European Parliament has been reduced from 785 to 736.

by Fran on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 02:14:45 PM EST
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EUobserver / EU Parliament horse-trading begins

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - With barely a day up since the finish of the EU elections, the members of the newly elected parliament are taking stock and sounding out future political allegiances.

Up for grabs in the house in the coming weeks are the leaderships of the different political factions, as well as the chairs of the various committees (where the detail of EU legislation is made) and the presidency of the EU assembly itself.

As no party has a majority alone, the next few weeks will be marked by hard negotiations.

As no party has a majority alone, the next few weeks will be marked by hard negotiations as the different factions deliberate on which other political groups may be good political bedfellows and where and with whom compromises and deals can be made.

Added to the mix will be the election of the next European Commission president.

by Fran on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 02:15:10 PM EST
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Lowest Ever Turnout: Europe Swings to the Right amid Voter Apathy - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Center-right and right-wing parties are the biggest winners in the elections to the European Parliament, which saw Europe's left do poorly in most of the 27 member states. Turnout was the lowest since voting began in 1979.

The European Parliament elections mark a victory for center-right and right-wing parties as voters punish the left in a vote marked by a historically low turnout.

 The center-right European People's Party (EPP) held on to its position as the largest grouping in the European Parliament, with provisional results giving them 267, or around 36 percent, of the assembly's 736 seats. The center-right's showing was even better than indicated by the EPP's results, as many euroskeptic members of the European Parliament are moving to other parliamentary groups.

by Fran on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 02:17:49 PM EST
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EUobserver / Eurosceptics score major win in Britain

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European elections in Britain saw the UK Independence Party (UKIP), advocating withdrawal from the EU, scoring its best result ever and coming second to only the opposition Conservatives, while the ruling Labour party slipped to the third place.

With a turnout of 34.3 percent, the Conservatives obtained 27.7 percent of the votes cast in the elections in Britain on 4 June. The Tories will get 25 seats in the newly elected European Parliament, up from 24 so far, final results showed on Monday (8 June).

UKIP will return 13 MEPs to parliament

UKIP had been expecting to do well in the election but the extent of its win was surprising, as it came second with 16.5 percent and obtained 13 seats, one more than in the last parliament.

The Labour party of prime minister Gordon Brown, badly hit by the recent scandal over MPs' abuses of the expenses system, only came third at 15.7 percent and lost five of its 18 MEP seats. British media note that it was Labour's worst score since World War II.

by Fran on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 02:18:39 PM EST
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Global vote, local mindset -  El País/ Presseurop

Candidates and the electorate have turned the largest transnational ballot in history into a vote on national issues. A pity, says El Pais, since global problems increasingly require solutions that transcend borders.

The match was not played out in Europe, but at the parish pump. Unfortunately, the 27 national contests were sabotaged by a blinkered strategy that has done nothing but hamstring the EU's position in the world arena. The European Parliament election results confirm widespread disaffection with an election people consider remote and of scant utility: witness the low turnout and public indifference; the use of the EP elections as a second-round parliamentary poll to settle domestic scores; the rise of extremists like Geert Wilders' xenophobic and anti-European Freedom Party in The Netherlands, which amassed over 15% of the vote; the implosion of Gordon Brown's Labour Party, with David Cameron's Tories poised for an early takeover of 10 Downing Street - and promising a referendum on the UK's remaining in the EU; the triumph of the opposition in Ireland with a no-confidence vote on the government's handling of the economic crisis; or the German dress rehearsal for the upcoming Bundestag elections in September. National tickets and national issues, in other words, for elections that are still - mistakenly - considered of secondary importance in tackling specific and general problems in a Europe we still do not see as a whole that is greater than its parts.

by Fran on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 02:20:55 PM EST
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BBC NEWS | Europe | Job fears fail to rally left-wing vote

On the face of it, the circumstances around these elections looked pretty favourable to the parties of the centre-left.

In the run-up to the election, an opinion poll taken across the EU's 27 member states showed that the worst economic crisis in a generation had pushed a fear of unemployment right to the top of voters' concerns.

So you might have expected voters to back the parties of the left. Instead it was the centre-right that benefited.

Were Europe's voters expressing greater confidence in these parties' abilities to manage economic downturn and - hopefully - the beginnings of recovery?

Maybe. But it is also true that in many European states safety nets already exist for those who lose their jobs, perhaps neutering one of the left's unique selling points.

And if we take a closer look at the picture in some of the big EU states, things begin to look a little more complicated.

by Fran on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 02:21:27 PM EST
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Minister quits as backbiting continues - UK Politics, UK - The Independent
Gordon Brown faced another fierce attack from a minister who quit government today as he prepared for a showdown with his own MPs.
Jane Kennedy said she was not re-appointed as an environment minister because she refused to give a pledge of loyalty to the Prime Minister.

She said she told him in a "frank and honest" phone call this morning "I could not offer him the support he was asking for".

And she hit out at "smears" of colleagues by people associated with No 10. She added that if Mr Brown stayed on to the bitter end it would spell "the bitter end of the Labour Party".

Outside her constituency office in Liverpool, Ms Kennedy said: "He did not re-appoint me. My view was I was sacked. His view is that I resigned. In the end it was my choice to go."

by Fran on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 02:22:52 PM EST
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About the only thing of note is how the Cabinet seems to comprise mostly of replaceable nobodies these days. As Newspeak is a version of language in which alternative thought is impossible, NuLab is a party where representatives are chosen based on their unwillingness/inability to provide alternative  thinking or viewpoints within the Party.

I Love Tony Blair

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:55:24 PM EST
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Independents could tip the balance in Euro Parliament | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

At first sight, the losses sustained by the left and centre-left in the European elections would not appear to constitute a landslide. After all, the Social Democrats will remain the second largest bloc in the European Parliament, after the parties of the centre right. But what may change is the way in which the parliament takes decisions.

Here in the Netherlands, the right-wing Freedom Party was one of the big winners in the European elections, yet analysts were quick to point out that with only four out of the 736 seats in the European Parliament (EP) it won't be able to achieve much on its own - party leader Geert Wilders having already said that he doesn't intend to join any of the existing coalitions in the parliament.

By the same token, left-wing parties may have lost spectacularly in countries such as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, but because they are part of a coalition - some of whose other members, like the Greek socialists, actually made gains in the elections - the consequences of their losses have ended up being somewhat limited. As a result, the social-democratic PES bloc will remain the second largest grouping in the EP despite those losses, with only the centre-right EPP (European People's Party) bloc beating it in terms of numbers of seats.

by Fran on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 02:26:17 PM EST
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European elections 2009: Berlusconi wins but Northern League has its best result - Telegraph
Silvio Berlusconi's Right-wing party gained far fewer votes than expected in the European elections as Italy's anti-immigration Northern League polled its best ever result.

The Italian prime minister had hoped that his centre-Right People of Freedom Party would attract up to 45 per cent of the vote, but instead it won just over 35 per cent.

Italian voters appeared to have punished the self-made billionaire for a series of controversies, including his favouring of showgirls and starlets, his divorce from his long-suffering wife and questions over his relationship with an 18-year-old blonde lingerie model.

by Fran on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 02:26:42 PM EST
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Stunning reversal of fortunes for Ireland's Fianna Fáil - Times Online

Fianna Fáil, the most successful political party in Western Europe, was facing up to its worst electoral performance in its history last night with the likelihood that it would lose a European Parliament seat in Dublin.

The party's woes were compounded by disastrous results in local council elections and two Dublin by-elections.

Another loser last night appeared to be Declan Ganley, founder and leader of Libertas, which brought the Lisbon Treaty ratification process to a standstill when it spearheaded the No vote in last year's Irish referendum.

Mr Ganley polled better than predicted, but his 16 per cent share in the Ireland North West constituency was not likely, after the first round of counting, to secure him its third seat.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 02:27:59 PM EST
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M of A - Biased Election Reporting

This is how the Associated Press reports the German results of the European Parliament election:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives were headed for a center-right majority and her center-left rivals for a historically heavy defeat Sunday in European Parliament elections, according to projections.

Bloomberg writes:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats beat the Social Democrats in European Parliament elections yesterday with less than four months to go before a national vote, preliminary final results showed.
"It's a very successful election for Merkel," Jan Techau, an analyst at the Berlin-based German Council on Foreign Relations, said in an interview. "It's a pretty strong signal that German voters prefer the center-right parties because people expect them to be more competent on the economy."

    Now compare those news reports with the facts.

    by Fran on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 02:31:57 PM EST
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    It's all about narratives...

    The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
    by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 03:04:51 PM EST
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    Italy - The wrong way round
    June 8th - Relief

    Berlusconi's frequent boasts that 75% of the electorate supported him, and that well over 40% would vote for his party in last week-end's elections, can now be seen to have been as mendacious as so many of his other assertions. I hope shortly to translate, and place on the Passaparola page, the excellent analysis of the results by Marco Travaglio. In brief, they were disappointing results for both large parties, and therefore for the prospect of Italy becoming a two-party democracy any time soon. The two clear winners were, firstly Antonio Di Pietro, who has been foremost in condemning the erosion of the rule of law, and secondly the Northern League. The League stands for many distasteful things, but it does not stand for automatically giving Berlusconi the benefit of every possible doubt. Its stronger standing in the coalition government after the election will act as some kind of check on the tendency to autocracy that has recently been so alarming.

    'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 06:50:47 AM EST
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    Italy - The wrong way round
    The third fact which I find interesting is that the dream - or rather the nightmare as it seems to me and to many of you - of a two-party system has failed. The idea that Italy can be reduced by two big parties that represent everything and its opposite, without a coherent programme, without a common idea - the dream of Berlusconi and Veltroni when they were putting together an agreement in late 2007 - to divide Italy between them and drive out anything that didn't fit into these two hold-alls, to prune all the awkward branches of the hedge and leave just that one hedge, the PDL and the PD-without-an-L, as Grillo says: that dream has come a cropper. Veltroni has been out of politics for a while, while Berlusconi is on his third phase of decline. This always happens when he gets into power: first there's a period of collective idiocy while people still believe his sales pitch, after which, as soon as they notice the fraud that he's perpetrating, he immediately loses popularity. So what's the problem? The problem is that when his popularity has sunk and he loses the next election, unfortunately the centre-left wins, whose task it is, or so far always has been, to make people forget the mess that Berlusconi has made and to revive him from his ashes. This has already happened twice since 1994 when Bossi brought down the Berlusconi government, and Prodi won the 1996 elections, only to be driven out by his allies after he had brought Italy into the Euro. The same thing happened in 2001. Berlusconi governed for 5 years from 2001 to 2006, but right from the first year he began to lose local, provincial, national and European elections as well as the referendum on the Constitution. Then the centre-left managed to do itself such damage with pardons, Mastella, various splits and so on, that it managed to commit suicide within 18 months. This time we shall see what happens. It is clear that Berlusconi, who thought he could capitalise on the propaganda with which once again he had deceived the majority of Italians during his first year of government, has instead got a bloody nose. His only hope is that the Democratic Party may go back to its old habits of internal gossip, frightened by the small dose of anti-berlusconianism that it has been showing in the last months of the electoral campaign in order to mask the nullity of its opposition. We shall see. The fact remains that the two-party-state dream is over. The project to make the PDL a majority party, with no need of a coalition partner, has failed. Berlusconi has always spoken of his party trending towards 50% of the vote so that he could do without the League, but recently it has become clear that not even he believed in this. That's why he has been making advances to Casini. In any event, the blow that he suffered yesterday was much harsher than he had been expecting, since his party not only didn't reach 50%, nor 40%, nor even the 38-point-something that it got a year ago, and today finds itself with just 35.3% of the vote. On the other hand, the Democratic Party, with its "vocation to be a majority party", as Veltroni comically said, one year ago had 33% and today has just 26.1%, or just half of the votes that it would need to be a majority party. Inevitably, then, it has to ally itself with the parties that it disdainfully rejected a year ago - the parties of the left, and also Di Pietro who has made off with its underpants!
    he's the man...

    'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 07:23:09 AM EST
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    oops, i messed up the formatting, apologies.

    'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 07:25:45 AM EST
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