Showing posts with label elections 2017. Show all posts
Showing posts with label elections 2017. Show all posts

Monday, September 25, 2017

Like Germany’s Social Democrats, left-wing parties are losing ground across Europe

By Rick Noack September 25 at 3:19 AM

The Washington Post

BERLIN — The 2017 German election fits at least three bigger trends. There was Merkel who convinced Germans to grant her a fourth term in office, reaffirming her position as the preferred choice in the center. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) joined a number of other far-right parties across Europe in gaining seats in parliament for the first time, becoming the most likely choice of those drawn to the political side-lines on the right.

And then there was the Social Democratic Party (SPD) which suffered a humiliating defeat, in yet another indication of the challenges some traditional left-wing groups across the continent are facing.

Denmark’s Social Democrats were ousted by a center-right coalition headed by the mainstream Venstre party in 2015. In Austria, the Social Democrats are similarly facing record-losses in upcoming elections, and France’s Socialist Party remains in a deep crisis following its defeat earlier this year.

The decline of Europe’s social democrats is closely associated with the rise of the far-right, experts said.

In Germany, core issues usually believed to play into the hands of the Social Democrats, such as social justice and fair wages, have become less of a concern over the last four years. Instead, immigration and security are now some of the most dominating topics.

“The core competencies of the Social Democrats currently don't really play a big role,” said Timo Lochocki, a political researcher with the German Marshall Fund, an American think tank.

“The last year really did mark a collapse of the social democrats across Europe, as the immigration debate gained momentum,” agreed Tarik Abou-Chadi, a researcher at Humboldt University in Berlin. “Many European social democratic parties are quite divided on the issue of immigration, which is why they are refraining from discussing it,” he said.

As the social democrats mostly remained silent, many voters shifted either to right-wing populist parties or to more outspoken parties on the left.

Other trends, such as a growing number of higher education graduates and a shift away from traditional industries has further eroded social democrats’ support base. Despite that process having dragged on for decades, the social democrats were still able to win elections in the past, however. Prior to the Merkel era, Social Democrat Gerhard Schröder achieved victories with record margins over the conservatives only a little more than a decade ago.

In Great Britain, the Labour Party still appears to be able to make significant gains even today, as it showed during general elections in June. Their unexpected rise in the polls may not be a sign of a social democratic revival more generally, however.

“The momentum created by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union makes Britain a special case which is hard to compare. The U.K.’s electoral system also clearly favors the biggest parties — which makes it distinct from many other European nations,” said researcher Abou-Chadi.

“It also probably has to do with the fact that Theresa May is so deeply unpopular among many in Britain. Of course, Germany’s Merkel is in a far different position,” he said. 68 percent of Germans stated in a recent Gallup poll, conducted prior to Sunday’s vote, that they were satisfied with Merkel’s leadership.

Yet, only a little more than 30 percent of the population ended up voting for her party, the CDU, and Bavaria’s CSU.

Instead of voting for the mainstream alternative, the SPD, some of them chose the far-right instead.

At a leftist protest against the far-right on Sunday evening, hundreds encircled the AfD’s election party location near the Alexanderplatz in central Berlin. “All of Berlin hates the AfD,” some protesters were shouting, as others held up posters with slogans such as “Not my party.”

Responses by protesters here reflected the dilemma the Social Democrats are now in. “I just hope that the response of mainstream politicians to today’s result won’t be a shift toward the right. Simply adopting the same policy positions won’t solve the problem,” said 29-year old designer Henrik Dagedorn. Elsewhere in Europe, some social democratic parties have experimented with adopting more anti-immigration positions, but faced a backlash by its urban and young supporters.

There was uncertainty among the protesters about how to stop the rise of the far-right instead, however.

“I fear that they might stay in parliament longer than we expect, because there won’t be any imminent solution for the problems that got them elected in the first place,” said Martina Schnepka, 51, a nurse.

For Germany's Social Democrats, there does not appear be any imminent solution, either.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Brexit Bulletin: The New Political Reality

By Simon Kennedy  and Robert Hutton
21 Ιουνίου 2017, 9:52 π.μ. EEST


Prime Minister Theresa May will make her first attempt to engage with Britain’s new political landscape on Wednesday as she publishes a Brexit-heavy legislative program.

Queen Elizabeth II will read out the plan for the next two years. It’s set to include a bill designed to convert thousands of European Union rules into British law and another to regain control of trade policy from the bloc.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Britain’s Theresa May comes under pressure to soften her stance on Brexit

The Washington Post

By Griff Witte and Karla Adam June 12 at 3:30 PM
LONDON — When Britain voted last week in an election that ended with Prime Minister Theresa May hanging onto her job by a thread, Brexit wasn’t on the ballot.

Even though the country had split nearly down the middle in last year’s referendum – 52 percent to 48 – and continues to be closely divided, none of the major parties ran on a platform of reversing the public’s decision to leave the European Union.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Theresa May Loses Overall Majority in U.K. Parliament


JUNE 8, 2017

LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain suffered a major setback in a tumultuous election on Thursday, losing her overall majority in Parliament and throwing her government into uncertainty less than two weeks before it is scheduled to begin negotiations over withdrawing from the European Union.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Macron and the Revival of Europe

Roger Cohen MAY 7, 2017

The New York Times

It’s not just that Emmanuel Macron won and will become, at the age of 39, France’s youngest president. It’s not merely that he defeated, in Marine Le Pen, the forces of xenophobic nationalism exploited by President Donald Trump. It’s that he won with a bold stand for the much-maligned European Union, and so reaffirmed the European idea and Europe’s place in a world that needs its strength and values.

With Le Pen defeat, Europe’s far-right surge stalls

The Washington Post

By Michael Birnbaum and Anthony Faiola May 7 at 10:08 PM
BRUSSELS — The anti-E.U. French leader Marine Le Pen’s larger-than-expected defeat Sunday in her nation’s presidential election was a crushing reality check for the far-right forces who seek to overthrow Europe: Despite the victories for Brexit and Donald Trump, they are likely to be shut out of power for years.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Brexit Bulletin: What Macron Means for May

Macron has pledged to be tough on Britain.
by Simon Kennedy
24 Απριλίου 2017, 9:30 π.μ. EEST


Theresa May’s first electoral test came on Sunday in France.

Even as she heads for a general election at home, the U.K. prime minister will have been looking across the English Channel at the weekend in the knowledge that whoever wins the French presidency will have a key influence on Brexit negotiations.

Emmanuel Macron, the favorite to win next month’s run-off after the first round of votes, pledged on the campaign trail to be “pretty tough” on the British “because we have to preserve the rest of the European Union.” He also promised to coax “banks, talent, researchers, academics” to relocate to France.