Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

Peter Spiegel at the FT is pointing out rather elegantly that across Europe the political class are sffering. Merkle in Germany, Sarko in France, Burlesconi has his travails and in Portugal Socrates has been dumped. This is both a problem with encumbancy and strikes both left and right.

What he notes is the rise of other parties across Europe. Each country has its own version of the protest party that picks up the votes. In France it is the Front Nationale, in Holland it is Wilders and the PPV. Italy the Lega, Finland has Timo and the True Finns, and so on and so forth.

they are all very different and all very much part ofthe national background from whence they spring, the FN are more nationalist than some, the PVV more concerned about Islamic immigration for example.

But what they share is a distrust, nay dislike of Brussels and the European elite, which is why they are making ground on their traditional political/national leaderships and parties. The old order is tainted with the failures of the EU.
How to explain the disparity? Part of the explanation is likely simple anti-incumbency. If the centre-right leaders in France and Germany share anything with the collapsed governments in Portugal and Ireland it’s the simple fact that they were the ones in office when the anger started to rise.

But a trend worth watching is the rise of the populist movements on the far right. The National Front certainly played an important role in the recent French elections, and the populist True Finns have sucked support from all three mainstream parties in Finland, to where they’re now projected to finish in second place. In the Netherlands, the right-wing party of Geert Wilders has garnered headlines (and votes) for its anti-Muslim rhetoric, but is equally anti-EU. (my italics)
Of course he mises out the UK. Here the main recipient of this growing disatisfaction, if the ongoing polling in the UK is anything to go by, is UKIP, which like the others is a plant grown from a seed in its own land. Unlike the continetal variety we do not have a strong authoritarian streak, more national liberal than national socialist.

But UKIP is well poised to garner increasing numbers of votes as its simple messages of national, local and personal self determination gain sway amongst a greater and greater number of Britons.

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