Monday, May 27, 2019

The European elections

The European Union went to the polls last week to elect members of the European Parliament. This was actually staged as a series of national-level elections, starting on Thursday (because the UK are barbaric and refuse to run their elections on a sensible day), and wrapping up on Sunday with most EU nations voting. Results are coming in, and they're interesting.

In the UK, EU elections (like everything else) were a proxy for Brexit, and predictably the new Brexit Party is leading the poll. While it has stepped into the place of the old UKIP, it has also gained votes from the Conservatives. Meanwhile, UK Labour's refusal to take a solid position on the primary political issue of the day has seen it bleed votes to the Liberal Democrats, while concern over climate change has boosted the Green vote. The result is a slaughter for the political establishment: Labour has apparently been pushed into third, while the Conservatives are trailing in fifth place, behind the Greens, and have lost almost all their seats. European elections aren't the same as elections to Westminster, but it should be worrying the establishment parties, and if there's anything like this flow of votes in the next parliamentary elections, the UK's unfair electoral system will turn it into a massacre.

In Germany, in more bad news for political establishments, the Social Democrats were pushed into third place by the Greens. This was likely a result of the SDP's collaboration in a grand coalition, but also part of a Europe-wide Green surge. The Greens also came second in Finland, and third in France and Ireland.

Spain has another headache, with both exiled former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and jailed ERC leader Oriol Junqueras elected on different lists. The Spanish establishment will no doubt try and stop them from taking their seats, but this will put Catalan independence on the European political stage.

The longstanding grand coalition between the European People's Party and the Social Democrats has lost its majority, which means they'll need to put together another arrangement - either bringing another grouping in, or finding a completely new coalition (and there are plenty of possibilities). unfortunately I don't know enough about EU politics to know what's likely.