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The World from Berlin: 'Europe's Elites Are Destroying the Grand Project' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Never mind who the voters voted for. Why didn't more Europeans cast their ballots? German commentators think they have the answer.

How does one analyze an election that took place simultaneously in 27 different member states? Prior to the European parliamentary vote, pundits lamented the fact that the EU-wide vote rarely went beyond being a domestic political barometer. With the results having been made public on Sunday evening, however, those same pundits rushed to fit the results into a continent-wide pattern.

A couple in Brussels look at a board displaying provisional results of the European parliament elections. The patterns were certainly there to be seen. Social Democrats suffered mightily across the EU as voters apparently turned to the right for solutions to the ongoing economic crisis that has gripped Europe and the world. At the same time, many voters found center-right parties not conservative enough, with far-right parties doing well in Holland, Austria, Hungary and elsewhere.

Success on the center-right was good news for European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. On Tuesday, the conservative former prime minister of Portugal declared his candidacy for a second five-year term. Given his political camp's strong election showing, his candidacy will likely be unopposed.

Mostly, though, Monday mulling focused on the perennial European election problem: low voter turnout. Just 43 percent of Europe's 375 million eligible voters headed to the polls from June 4 to 7, less even than last time when 45.5 percent voted. German commentators on Tuesday say that national leaders and parties are to blame for failing to campaign on European issues and for using Brussels as a convenient scapegoat when things go wrong.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:50:34 PM EST
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