Monday, June 8, 2009

Election watching

It's been a slow spring in the Manitoba blogosphere, including here at PT. That's not to say there isn't a lot going on politically around the world.


Election watchers might be interested in
this BBC summary of the EU election results.

I find it quite fascinating how diverse political parties from very different European political cultures have managed to forge a series of pan-European slates. On the left, labour-oriented, moderate socialist and social democratic parties are largely united under the Party of European Socialists (PES) banner. They are second to the bloc of centre-right, Christian democrat and conservative parties that have banded together under the umbrella of the European People's Party – European Democrats (EPP-ED), which Britain’s Tories are in the process of leaving in the hopes of forming a new coalition. Centrist and liberal/pro-free trade parties comprise the third-largest grouping in the European Parliament, known as the Alliance Of Liberals And Democrats For Europe (ALDE).

The mostly right-wing Euro-skeptics, those mostly opposed to greater European integration through the building of pan-European institutions and regulations, have their own pan-European party, called the Union For Europe Of The Nations or UEN. Extreme Euro-skeptics, those looking for their country’s complete withdrawal from the EU, are part of the Independence And Democracy (IND/DEM) coalition.

Small regional and nationalist parties, such as those from Scotland, Wales and the Basque region of Spain, have banded together as the European Free Alliance (EFA) and are now allied with the European Greens. Communist and radical left parties also have their own left parliamentary bloc.

Results in this weekend's elections mark a continued decrease in voter turnout to just 43% and a general rightward tilt in votes cast, particularly in Britain, where Gordon Brown’s struggling Labour Party was reduced to a mere 15% of the votes. Left-leaning parties in France, Spain and Portugal also saw their share of the vote decline.

Alarmingly, a number of xenophobic, anti-immigrant and far-right parties, including the British National Party,
saw their numbers increase.

Finally, Sweden’s Pirate Party, which runs on a platform of copyright and patent law reform, won its first seat in the European Parliament.


Election followers are no doubt casting their eyes southeast of the EU to Lebanon, where the governing coalition just staved off a strong challenge from the opposition coalition that's led by the infamous Hezbollah movement.

This Globe article provides a good overview of the different religious, ethnic and political associations of each party.

Nova Scotia

Closer to home, a lot of people are following developments in Nova Scotia, where the NDP looks poised to form its first government ever in Atlantic Canada. Three polls have now put the NDP around 45%, far ahead of the governing Conservatives and third-place Liberals, who are each reported to be holding around 25%.

Some good sites to follow the coverage include those of the Chronicle-Herald and CBC, Nodice, an elections facts and figures site, and the Elections Nova Scotia site itself.

Elsewhere around the world

Election watchers can follow recent and upcoming elections at sites such as
Election Guide.

Photo: A display meant to promote the 2009 European elections.

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