Tory MEP and prominent EU blogger Daniel Hannan sends his congratulations to Portugal on electing a centre-right government saying “Where the people of Greece appear to be in denial, rioting whenever spending cuts are suggested, our oldest allies accept that they cannot carry on with the policies”.
He sees it as “part of a wider European flight from the Left. Of the 27 EU member states, only five now have Left-Of-Centre governments.” “Why?,” he rhetorically asks, “Mainly because people see that money has run out. […] Now they simply want competence.”
One would have to not have access to any newspapers or suffer from a particularly bad case of “ideology,” whereby one imposes ones stilted preconceptions on one’s perceptions of reality, with frightening ability in this case. I will simply say that recent developments include:
- The overwhelming victories by the left across Italy and notably in Naples and Berlusconi’s traditional stronghold of Milan.
- The repeated victories of the centre-left in regional elections in Germany, including even greater left-wing domination of Bremen and the right’s losing control of Baden-Württemberg for the first time in six decades, leading to the first Green minister-president.
- The crushing defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP at local elections in March, scoring only 20%, 16 points below the opposition Socialists’ 36%.
- Recent polls have Sarkozy to be defeated by a centre-left candidate if elections were held today, almost regardless of who that candidate is.
The current wave of elections is obviously overwhelmingly anti-incumbent, as opposed to inherently left or right, as they often are in times of economic crisis. Given that Europe is currently governed by centre-right parties it means that, despite some gains for the far-right, the centre-left is likely to make more big wins in the immediate future.
Almost all European leaders, I think, feel their crowns are resting very insecurely upon their brows. This can lead to desperate tactics. However, neither Sarkozy’s traditional race-baiting nor his little war in Libya have really helped him in the polls. And, very encouragingly, Berlusconi’s incredible homophobic, anti-Gypsy and anti-Muslim campaign failed to prevent a crushing defeat in Milan.
Already José Sócrates of Portugal (centre-left) and Brian Cowen of Ireland (centrist) have been dethroned. Instead of gloating too much, Hannan ought to think about what he can do to help his right-wing friends: I expect Europeans will be unceremoniously evicting many more of their leaders regardless of their political stripe!