Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Election Sunday in Europe

Its election time in Europe. Just three days after the local elections in the United Kingdom, eight elections were held in five European countries on Sunday May 6, 2012. France saw the second round of its presidential election. Greece held a legislative election just after three years after the last election. Meanwhile, Serbia held the first round of its presidential election, the parliamentary election and the local elections. Also, the province of Vojvodina in Northern Serbia held its own parliamentary election. The Northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein held its own state election on May 6 and Armenia held its general election. Capping the multitude of elections was the local elections in Italy on Monday, May 7.

The elections saw a general swing towards the left, contrary to the trend of the recent far right swing in Europe. But underneath the general successes of the left were significant gains by the far right at some instances.

The French presidential election ended with no surprise as Francois Hollande defeated the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, albeit with a smaller margin than expected beforehand. The far right candidate Marine Le Pen had an unprecedented success just two weeks ago in the first round and her voters may have had a direct influence on Sarkozy's percentage in the second round when they had to choose the best of two 'evils'. The Serbian general election also saw an improvement of the nationalist fortunes. Serbian Progressive Party, led by Tomislav Nikolic, a former ally of Slobodan Milosevich won 73 out of 250 seats. However, it is far shorter than the required majority and just six seats ahead of the Democratic Party of the incumbent president Boris Tadic. The presidential election will be decided in a second round between Tadic and Nikolic in two weeks. With recent gains, Nikolic will not want to be defeated a third time by Tadic. But with Tadic's party forming a new government it will be an uphill task to the nationalists.

The Greek general election has seen by far the most dramatic results. The 'coalition of austerity' of the New Democracy (ND) and Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) has suffered heavily. Although the 50 bonus seats has helped the ND to win 108 seats, it gained less than 20% of the popular vote. Meanwhile, the anti austerity party, Coalition of the Radical Left, also known as SYRIZA shocked PASOK, the leading left party by beating it to second place. With 52 seats in the 300 member legislature, it will be a key in an eventual coalition government. With the Communists winning 26 seats and the recently formed Democratic Left winning 19, the left parties except PASOK have nearly one third of the seats. However, a more alarming result is the rise of the extremist Golden Dawn party which took nearly 7% of the votes and 21 seats, becoming a force to reckon with after being in the fringe up to now.

The local elections in Italy has also seen a revival of the left parties and other Eurosceptic parties. While the left has done well in number of municipalities, the Five Stars Movement of comedian Beppe Grillo has showed record popularity among the voters. Former Prime Minister Silvio Belrusconi's party has suffered heavily, being outdone by even the Five Star Movement in some municipalities. Meanwhile, the right wing has suffered a significant setback in Schleswig-Holstein in Northern Germeny. The Christian Democratic Union of the Iron Chancellor Angela Merkel has fallen to a historic low with just over 30% of the popular vote in the state. They have a wafer thin lead over their rivals, the Social Democratic Party. Both have won 22 seats each in the 69 member Landtag. Meanwhile, the Free Democrats who are currently the allies of the CDU have fared badly. However, the Piracy Party has emerged as an important group amid debates over copyright issues over the past few months.

Outside the Eurozone, Armenia's Republican Party led by the country's president Sergzh Sargsyan has won a majority winning 69 of 131 seats. This has been a rare case of a success in an incumbent president in Europe. However, although Armenia is considered European, it is in the extreme South East of the continent and out of the Eurozone.

No comments:

Post a Comment