Sunday, February 20, 2005

Elections Day In Europe

I will add updates about results to each [done - hence bumped; later with commentary]:

Spain: first referendum about the EU Constitution (Lithuania, Hungary and Slovenia already accepted it by parliamentary vote); will surely pass but low turnout expected. [Final] results: participation was 42.3%, "Yes" vote at 76.7%. BTW, the Catholic Church and the postfascists (the forever-yesterdayer fans of Franco) campaigned for a boycott, which was said to be seen successful if participation got below 35% - it didn't, and I'm for once happy about a king, for Spain's Juan Carlos defied the boycott call and went to vote(which is quite something, he doesn't vote in general elections to demonstrate impartiality).

Portugal: the right-wing government (a minority government of a conservative party uniquely called Social Democrats; supported from outside by a far-right party) left behind by now European Commission President Juan-Manuel Barroso [see previous post] faces early elections with less than 30% in the polls, while the Socialists are put at 50% - the PM threatened pollsters with litigation should they have erred... and in their desperation, they started to copy the Ukraine and are campaigning in orange... Voting just ended, exit polls predict absolute majority for Socialists. [Final] indeed, 120 seats out of 230, with 45.0% of votes. Social Democrats got just 28.7%/72 seats, its former far-right outside supporter CDS/PP got 7.3%/12 seats, while the two radical-left small parties - the Green/Communist coalition CDU and the leftist block BE - got 7.6%/14 seats and 6.4%/8 seats respectively. Participation was 67%, a high for the country.

I am happy that the new PM, José Socrates, is an ex-environment-minister, tough the desolate economy Barroso left behind - almost no growth, large public deficit and joblessness - makes him vulnerable to demands of economists with bad advices. BTW, seldom noted, the losing government withdrew Portuguese forces from Iraq just before the elections, which didn't save it. Socrates commented: “I never agreed with the deployment of the national guards to Iraq,” he added. “I think that war caused much harm to the world. We were on the wrong side of history in this.”

Cyprus, Turkish part: the pro-EU PM is set to win, his nationalist opposition also campaigns in orange... The pro-EU PM indeed won [later]: his Republican-Turkish Party has 44%, the also pro-EU party of the President's renegade son got 14%, the nationalist Party of National Unity only got 32%. Participation: 74%. Now it is the Greek side's turn to show readiness for cooperation rather than issue ultimatums - while the international community shouldn't hamper efforts with strong-arming and ultimatums of its own.

Germany, Schleswig-Holstein province: the last polls showed the Social Democrats of incumbent Heide Simonis and her Green coalitioneers 3% ahead of the Christian Democrat+Liberal combination - however, there is a new scandal in Germany hitting the Greens (about too easily given visa at embassies) which the opposition tries to capitalise on. Indeed, exit polls show the opposition ahead by around 2% - but, strangely enough, the bigger swing was not from the Greens (last polls -1%) but the Social Democrats (-2%). [Later] In the end, the Social Democrats got more - 38.7%/29 seats, vs 40.2%/30 seats for Christian Democrats, 6.6%/4 seats for liberals, 6.2%/4 seats for Greens -, and due to just 70 votes, the opposition ended up one seat short of majority. The fifth force in the regional parliament, the party of the Danish minority which got 3.6%/two seats, announced its support for the Social Democrats and their school reforms. Thus the bruished Left will stay in government, and so will the pro-wind-power policy (Schleswig-Holstein alone has 2174 MW installed - a third of what is in the entire USA - which supplies a fourth to third of electricity there). Participation was 66.6%, an absolute low for the province (it was below 70% twice before, in 1949 and 2000).

[Now] Three-and-a-half good news! Hopefully, the centre-to-radical-left coalitions will regain France and Italy too; I'm resigned about the third-way-suicidal centre-left losing Germany and having another meaningless victory in Britain... but, my British readers, I'll be the first to admit I'm an idiot should your fellow voters positively surprise me.


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