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Thread: European Elections 2019

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland

    European Elections 2019

    So, the European Parliament elections are taking place this week.

    Despite the importance of it in EU-wide (and worldwide) issues, voters in the member states have traditionally used European Parliament elections as protest votes against their national governments and their policies.

    There's been a huge upsurge in support for populist parties, both on the right and on the left, often with ultra-nationalist, anti-Europe agendas and thinly-veiled bigotry against people of different nationalities, races, or religions.

    Combined with parties with a single-issue agenda who have no interest in contributing to anything else (e.g. the Brexit Party), it seems possible that this upcoming parliament will be mired in even more unproductive MEPs and will further delay action on important issues like Europe-wide coordination against climate change (which is really the single most important issue in Europe, and the world, right now.)

    I have no faith in the current parliament, especially after the majority of them voted in the catastrophic Copyright Directive, but I fear that what replaces them may be even worse.

    Either way, if you're one of the European TTLGers, make sure to go out and vote this week and try to help steer Europe in the right direction.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    "Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing."
    -- John Stuart Mill

  3. #3
    LittleFlower
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Netherlands
    Quote Originally Posted by Nameless Voice View Post
    ... populist parties, both on the right and on the left, ...
    Populist parties on the left ?
    Can you give me an example ? Which country, which party ?

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    DiEM25, Croatian Workers' Front and Human Shield, Maintenant le Peuple, M5S?
    Not as many as on the right, obviously, but they exist.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    Also Sinn Fin here in Ireland. Nationalist left-wing populists. They're not "new", though, they've been here for ages, and have several MEPs in the outgoing parliament.

    I do have to give them some grudging respect for voting against the Copyright Directive, though, and one of their MEPs is the only person who replied when I emailed every MEP in the country about that issue.
    Last edited by Nameless Voice; 22nd May 2019 at 09:33.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Last weekend we had the federal election here in Australia. Expectations were on the left leaning labor party winning, as all opinion polls over the past 2 years had them ahead. Then election day came, and the more right sided Liberal party won.

    Labor had campaigned heavily on fighting climate change, improving payments to those on government payments (the unemployed), and improving penalty rates for retail and hospitality workers. The Liberals had no policies at all for the election other than to not trust labor, and that they'd be supporting coal power. The liberals won in a landslide. I was completely devastated. People are stupid, choosing short term economic gain over the long term effects of pollution and climate change. The major downside, is that for the next 10 years no'ones going to even go near announcing a climate change policy, and instead will be supporting coal power. Only stupid people are breeding I tell you.
    Last edited by icemann; 23rd May 2019 at 08:08.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2000
    Location: VIE, .at
    I living abroad went to the effort to register for postal vote. The .de ballot is so long it was folded five times.

    I hope that the Pirate party candidate can cross the 0.5% implicit hurdle and continue the incumbent thorn's-in-the-side good work.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Quote Originally Posted by icemann View Post
    Last weekend we had the federal election here in Australia. Expectations were on the left leaning labor party winning, as all opinion polls over the past 2 years had them ahead. Then election day came, and the more right sided Liberal party won.

    Labor had campaigned heavily on fighting climate change, improving payments to those on government payments (the unemployed), and improving penalty rates for retail and hospitality workers. The Liberals had no policies at all for the election other than to not trust labor, and that they'd be supporting coal power. The liberals won in a landslide. I was completely devastated. People are stupid, choosing short term economic gain over the long term effects of pollution and climate change. The major downside, is that for the next 10 years no'ones going to even go near announcing a climate change policy, and instead will be supporting coal power. Only stupid people are breeding I tell you.
    Climate change skepticism is as strong on the right in Australia as it is in the US, at least that was my impression when living there. And some people in the center probably still have hard feelings over Labor's carbon tax. One thing Labor seemed to have going for them is leadership stability.

    Anyway, it seems like a left bias is starting to appear in a lot of polling results. The right seems under-represented, either by choice or because flawed polling methods.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    The polls showed a close election. People shouldn't be surprised when polls with an expected error of ~5% are 2% off, but people only really remember the topline "who won who lost" portion. There is something suspicious about a bunch of polls with ~5% error being within 1% of each other, though. Suggests they're calibrating on each other, which they really oughtn't do.

    Anyway, it seems like a left bias is starting to appear in a lot of polling results.
    Yeah, about half of them. Funny how the right-wing always claims polling bias when the polls are off in one direction, then are conspicuously silent when they're off the other way, and then cite the time before next time the polls are off to the left...

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    It just seems that the surprises have been going to the right. I'm trying to think of a surprise victory the other way on the level of the Australian election, or Trump, or Brexit. The closest I can think of is in NZ, but in that case Labour leadership changed just a month or so before the election, and the polls tracked Jacinda Ardern's rapid rise to election day.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Not directly related to the elections, but might influence them quite a bit -- Austria's government just collapsed:

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/05/23...ias-far-right/

    Corruption and Collusion Can’t Stop Austria’s Far-Right

    Austrian nationalists were caught red-handed in an attempted foreign conspiracy—but the party’s future is as bright as ever.
    By Franz-Stefan Gady | May 23, 2019, 4:07 PM


    In a rap song he recorded in 2006, the then-leader of the populist, far-right Freedom Party Austria (FP), Heinz-Christian Strache, presented himself as a modern-day, incorruptible Robin Hood. “Have you got something to hide?” he growled at the center-right Austrian People’s Party (VP) and center-left Social Democratic Party of Austria (SP) grand coalition government. He railed against alleged “scandals, bribery, corruption, and treason” and promised that through his leadership “the truth will someday come to light.”

    Thirteen years after Strache released that song, and more than one year after he became Austria’s vice chancellor and deputy head of government, that day finally arrived—just not in the way his fans imagined it would. Last week, Strache and one of his closest political allies, Johann Gudenus, were revealed to have solicited a conspiracy with the purported niece of a Russian oligarch. In a video secretly filmed prior to Austria’s 2017 general election, Strache and Gudenus promised to award the Russian government lucrative contracts in exchange for political donations and commitment from the oligarch’s niece to take over Austria’s most influential tabloid and steer its coverage on behalf of the FP.

    The video was published last Friday by the German news outlets Der Spiegel and the Sddeutsche Zeitung, forcing Strache and Gudenus’s immediate resignation and also triggering the end of the VP-FP government headed by 32-year-old Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, which has been in power since December 2017. The chancellor himself faces a vote of no confidence in parliament next week. Snap elections are slated to take place in September.

    Although the scandal represents Austria’s biggest political crisis since the end of World War II, most liberal and left-leaning commentators, in Austria and around the world, have found a silver lining in it. They argue that it represents the discrediting of the FP and thus the tail end of the natural life cycle of the far-right populist parties that have been on the rise across the West. Such celebrations, however, are fundamentally mistaken—and not just because the disgraced vice chancellor is already plotting his political comeback.

    The far-right in Austria may have lost its current coalition, but it is far from finished. By most indications, the scandal has not cost the party significant popularity among its core supporters. (A first poll conducted three days after the breaking of the political scandal shows the FP just losing slightly among voters, with party support declining from 23 to 18 percent.) It’s impossible to understand the far-right’s current resilience, and its likely future success, without understanding the true sources of its appeal.

    In the case of the FP, that requires understanding the origins of the party. The FP’s immediate predecessor was the national-liberal Federation of Independents (VdU), founded in 1949, to not only represent 600,000 former members of the Nazi Party, returning prisoners of war, and exiled Volksdeutsche but also former monarchists and national liberals, who wanted to push for economic liberalization of the Austrian economy, reduce the influence of organized labor, and diminish the power of the Austrian Catholic Church. These various groups never felt represented by the dominant Christian-conservative VP and socialist SP, and the VdU became the main vehicle for protesting their informal power-sharing arrangement over the public sector and state-owned enterprises, known as Proporz.

    But even when the VdU succeeded at the polls—it received 12 percent in Austria’s 1949 elections—neither the VP nor SP was willing to form a coalition government with a political faction openly representing ex-Nazi Party members. Those refusals to work together with the VdU triggered its rightward movement and the takeover of the party leadership by more nationalist forces. In 1956—a year after Austria regained its independence following a 10-year occupation by the victorious allies of World War II—Anton Reinthaller, a former Nazi SS officer, inaugurated the creation of the FP as the VdU’s successor. But elements of the VdU’s national-liberal factions, ostensibly dedicated to the ideals of the liberal revolutions of 1848, remained in the new party.

    The FP’s strength traces back to these origins in two important ways—one quite straightforward, the other less so. First, the FP from the very beginning established itself as a protest party against the establishment that ostracized it, and it embraces that identity today. FP voters first and foremost defined themselves in opposition to the prevailing Austrian political system run by VP and SP elites, which they were conditioned to believe was principally dedicated to keeping them out of power by any means. This also explains the relative subdued reaction by today’s FP voters to the current scandal involving the party’s senior leadership. Many are quick to embrace the various conspiracy theories produced by party media depicting the recent revelations as fake news, a setup by shadowy forces intent on keeping the FP out of power.

    The second foundation for the FP’s present resilience is the way it has shed a part of its historical legacy. The FP was founded as a coalition for voters who were dissatisfied with the prevailing political system, not all of whom were nationalistic and far-right. Until a few years ago, it had a national-liberal wing that consistently clashed with more right-leaning, extreme-right forces within the party. (Indeed, during the 1960s, ’70s, and early ’80s, the FP widely embraced Europe and an economic liberal agenda.) These internal confrontations were always the biggest source of the party’s weakness in the past and ultimately led to the end of three of the four government coalitions the FP has been involved in at the federal level since 1983.

    The current scandal, however, can’t widen this split because it hardly exists anymore. In 1986, the party was taken over by the charismatic Jrg Haider, who represented the extreme-right forces unhappy with the avowedly liberal aspects of the party’s agenda. Haider turned the FP into a modern populist far-right movement under the slogan of “Austria First” and ran on an anti-immigrant, law-and-order, and anti-Proporz platform. This led to a splintering off of a liberal faction of members into a new party, although other liberals remained in the party.

    Haider’s far-right messaging resulted in the biggest electoral victory in the FP’s history at the federal elections in 1999, beating for the first and only time the VP by a few hundred votes and resulting in a governing coalition between the two. Yet Haider also embodied the internal contradictions of the party. He wanted to simultaneously govern as a quasi-liberal and be in permanent opposition as an outright populist, and he tried to cater to both impulses as party leader. This led to an internal FP civil war that produced an electoral debacle at the federal election in 2002, when 700,000 voters left the party and the party’s support fell from 27 to 10 percent. Haider eventually realized that if he wanted to govern at the federal level, he had to turn his back on the extreme-right elements that he helped create. In 2005, he founded a new party, the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZ), consisting of the FP’s remaining liberals and dedicated to economic freedom.

    That party withered into political insignificance following Haider’s death in a car accident in 2008. But it nevertheless helps explain the FP’s strength today, albeit indirectly. The departure of the FP’s liberal supporters to the BZ permanently ended the infighting that plagued the party from the beginning. When Strache took over the FP in 2005, he built up the party around xenophobic, anti-Islam slogans (“Vienna cannot become Istanbul”) with a core team consisting of members of German nationalist fraternities, the Burschenschaften.

    Strache, like Haider, has always had the desire to govern, and to that end he has purged the party of some of its more extreme members and rhetoric to make the FP more attractive to the VP for a coalition government. But he has not had to struggle with the basic unity of his party, which is now an ideological organization rather than a political coalition split along liberal and nationalist lines. (The party also has strong leadership even in Strache’s absence; Norbert Hofer, who earned the votes of an unprecedented share of the electorate in the 2016 Austrian presidential elections for a FP politician, has assumed the chairmanship.) That’s why Austria likely won’t see a repeat of the FP’s 2002 election collapse. The recent revelations about Strache and Gudenus are seen by the party’s core voters as part of a nefarious efforts by the VP and SP to keep Proporz, their political power-sharing system, in place. The difference now is the stronger suggestions that this system has a liberal ideological agenda.

    The FP’s current communications strategy caters to this sentiment by attempting to discredit the Kurz-led VP’s ideological move to the right over the last two years. Party news outlets and politicians are already referring to a reversion to the “old VP” and a likely future grand coalition government. Former FP Interior Minister Herbert Kickl noted in a social media post this week that a reason for his dismissal was Kurz’s disagreement with his tough anti-migration policies—an astounding statement given the chancellor’s recent track record on the subject.

    This produces the current dilemma of Austria’s political elite. If Kurz, the head of Austria’s strongest party, enters into a grand coalition government with the SP following the September elections, the most likely result will be a strengthened FP, which, as the largest opposition party, will again rail against the so-called corrupt and politically correct establishment, regardless of corruption allegations or even legal convictions in its own ranks. If Kurz, however, decides to give an VP-FP government another shot, chances are that the government will once more collapse because of some FP scandal or other. It’s no accident that governments involving the FP have never lasted longer than two and a half years; the party appears incapable of governing without giving in to its destructive impulses to break up the country’s political system and hollow out its mores and norms.

    The FP’s nationalist ideology, as well as its xenophobic and anti-Semitic rhetoric, overshadows how much of the party’s attraction is also fueled by opposition to the prevailing VP-SP political establishment and the Proporz system. Notably, the FP can fight the Proporz inside or outside of government—inside by installing its own party members in key government positions and ousting members of other parties or outside by publicly attacking the FP’s political ostracization, which, along with the party’s usual nationalist and xenophobic rhetoric, will play well with the party base. As a result, no matter what the other parties decide following the September snap elections, the political future of the FP inside or outside of government will likely be brighter than most outside observers assume.

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2000
    Location: VIE, .at
    Shortly before election is the ideal time for publishing dug up dirt.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/w...-a8926241.html

    A German YouTube stars hour-long video attacking the government has gone viral after being viewed 3.5 million times in just a few days.

    Rezo, a 26-year-old music producer, posted the expletive-laden rant complete with footnotes to his 687,000 followers on Saturday.
    https://www.mmnews.de/politik/124587...rbeit-ein-fake

    Angela Merkel's dissertation said to not produce any scientific insights. She merely copied off 145 sources, critics say. The scientific value tends towards zero. The dissertation also contains severe mistakes.
    https://twitter.com/grimmse/status/1...809467910?s=09

    Karas used assistants for his doctoral dissertation

    Transparency International considers the VP top candidate's use of assistants for research pertaining to his doctoral dissertation worthy of investigation. Karas says he did not earn a "single Euro" with it.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    That Merkel article left me with several questions.

    Do German physics dissertations really only use 5-8 different sources at most and often only 1-3 primary ones?

    Do German physicists really complete their doctor's theses in 2-3 years and is 8 years really that out of the ordinary?

    Was her university really that crappy to let her graduate summa cum laude with work that was plagiarised, had little to none scientific value, and contained severe mistakes to boot? I have no idea what the situation in Leipzig University is, but it doesn't seem like an ordinary diploma mill.

    Also, it's not that I don't trust the words of an anonymous world-class physicist who graduated from "XYUniversity UK" and whose main argument seems to be that she lacks the character to write a PhD thesis, but frankly this article doesn't pass the smell test.
    Last edited by Starker; 24th May 2019 at 07:55.

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    I don't even get why Merkel's qualifications matter.
    She's in national government, not in the EU, and whatever you might think of her party's agendas, she's proven well capable of doing her job, regardless of the quality of a useless piece of paper that no one really cares about.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    Exit polls in Ireland show a huge surge in support for the Green Party, with their candidate in Dublin topping the polls, and their candidates in the other two constituencies both looking likely to get elected.
    (That will only be three seats in total, as they're a very small party here.)

    After seeing those results, the current government has now promised to actually prioritise climate change policy (presumably as opposed to declaring a "climate emergency" and then doing nothing, which I suspect was the previous plan.)


    We'll have to see what the actual numbers show tonight (Ireland's system of transfers make predictions rather difficult), but it looks like we might unexpectedly have got the best possible outcome here.

  16. #16
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Congrats. Climate change is one of the most important issues right now, if not the most important issue, since it will affect a lot of things in the near future: migration, economy, severe weather events, etc.

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Sadly in my country most people don't care about it. The economy and jobs are more important to them.

  18. #18

  19. #19
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    And exit polls start to give way to facts, and hope gives way to despair.

    Ireland's complex transferable voting system tends to make counting take much longer than any other country, and it probably won't be finished until Wednesday, but the initial count shows that our resident Trump-like rich businessman with his message of hatred and bigotry got more first-preference votes than the Greens in my constituency, putting him in 5th place (though perhaps luckily there are only four seats.)

    Meh. Way to go, Ireland.

  20. #20
    According to that site's chart for my country one party got 2 seats with 10.1% of the votes while another got 1 seat with 10.7% of the votes, must be due to some allied groups handing over votes or personal votes. But since the party that only got 1 seat is the local nationalists, I'm not complaining about that.

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