Quick, I think I’m getting an election

Election results are rarely what they seem

Throughout Europe over the last few days, we have seen four big chances for the electorate to make its position clear to the Bourbons – who are busy trying to make cake sound yummy. Do any of our Masters seem to get it?

Funniest article of the new week by far was the Prime Minister’s effort in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph. It should be preserved and held somewhere safe from the ravages of time – in a Cloud, with his head, perhaps – as an example of shifty, point-missing, but in the end hilarious, self-exculpation.

‘I get it,’ wrote Dave, and we can only hope that – if nothing else – that admission stops the social worker across the despatch box from saying that Cameroid doesn’t. Because the tedious thing about Ed’s mantra is most of us have known for eighteen months that the PM doesn’t get it…and even when he loses it, Ed’s chances of getting it are slimmer than an anorexic stick-insect.

‘The message people are sending is this: focus on what matters, deliver what you promise,’ Mr Cameron continued, altering the message in order to try and make sense of the rest of his article. But that’s alright, because I can easily correct him for the purposes of Sloggers everywhere: ‘The message people are sending is this: you are sloppy, devious and incapable of focus, hence the complete lack of promise-delivery.’

And then this belter: ‘I am on the side of people who work hard, want to get on, and play by the rules.’ This was up there with Murdoch’s, “I have never used the Times titles to sell other Newscorp products”. If Dave is on the side of people who play by the rules, then we  all need to worry about the resemblance (if any) between his rules and ours. Rule One: If faced with a contrary view of events, smear the opponent as ‘a fantasist’. Hmm. That sounds pretty much like one of Lord Mangelsum’s rules to me.

The local British elections have predictably been claimed by Labour as a massive vote for them, but they can’t get away from the biggest result of all: two voters in three not bothering to, as it were, vote. What the Council elections showed us last week was that the wonks and activists are heavily pro-pc Labour fluffy drivel, and the rest see nothing else to get behind – all of which we knew before they started – oh, and Nigel Farage is dyslexic. Or lazy, or something.

The Conservatives, however, leveraged the Boris Factor like Tim Geithner on amphetamines. “He’s the real Toryism,” yelled every Right wing blogger in these islands, ignoring in desperation the fact that BoJo is about as democratic as Ken, and a man keen on beating up those who give his jailbird friends a hard time, chucking plantpots through historic stained-glass windows, and swearing at opponents in lifts. If Boris is The Real Conservatism, then God help us all: he is a thug who just happened to get educated at….Eton. Yes folks, this is One School Conservatism as you’ve never seen it before.

The Boris phenomenon is important, of course: that’s why The Slog designated him, along with Harriet Harman, Britain’s most dangerous politician four years ago. But I and many others no longer care if he is a fundamentalist, true blue or entirely bonkers Conservative: in the end, our two main Parties will suffer the same fate as PASOK and New Democracy in Greece.

Segue neatly into the Hellenic Republic. It took Antonis Samaras just seven hours yesterday to decide he couldn’t form a Coalition government. With nine parties in the new Greek Assembly, that works out at just under fifty minutes per Party Leader expended on looking for a national solution for the country. “We did everything we could,” Samaras said. “It was impossible (to form a government). I handed back the mandate.” If at first you don’t succeed, give up. Samaras’s ‘mandate’ was actually 20% of the electorate giving him the chance to stick it to the EU, a mandate upon which Antonis the Slippery is already urinating.

But leftist Syriza now gets its chance. If that comes to nothing, I think we can start assuming that other things are already in the pipeline. These could range from another election in July via a wobbly bloc made up of Nazi-Soviet arrangements through to another technocrat government. The Greek election remains very important for one thing: it sets down in irrefutable history the fact that two-thirds of voters cast their democratic right against the Athenian-cum-Brussels Establishment, and probably marks the point at which very few people can still genuinely believe in the survival of the euro. Whether anything will change in Greece is another matter.

So, two-thirds not bothering, and two-thirds voting against those in charge. North-west now to Germany, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right coalition lost power in the state of Schleswig-Holstein at the weekend…with, again, 40% abstaining. This was mainly the trailer for a much more significant election in  North Rhine-Westphalia next weekend, but it too had significance. First off, the number of voters ‘sending a message’ to Merkel is on the increase, but it’s a multi-layered message of the kind that would have most pigeons struggling to stay airborne.

Some interviews in the German media suggested last week that thinking Germans remain worried about the potential debt Little Geli is taking on, but mass-market voters respond negatively to her tough-guy approach on Greece – that is, they don’t think it’s tough enough. Equally, there are the ever-present Greens – ‘fluffische Deutschland’ – whose daft views on nuclear power forced the Chancellor into an even dafter (and incredibly cynical) pledge to dump nuclear for electricity generation last year. But the fastest-growing new protest group is the Pirates Party – a great name in my view, although I think coined originally by the Swedes – which wants transparent government and internet freedom. I suppose the best pigeon hole for it would be ‘Young Libertarian’, although actually it’s about more than that.

On the German soft Left-to-centre, both Helmut Schmidt the conservative social democrat, and Helmut Kohl, the social democratic Conservative, who governed Germany for a quarter of a century, spoke out publicly against Germany’s current European policy.

Like the Greek electorate at the moment, its German equivalent is best described as confused. Real discussion of the dangers of a German-dominated eurozone are either ignored by the German majority, or positively approved of….but rarely discussed openly. Once more ClubMeds start kicking up, the average Fritz will either wise up or harden in his attitudes to towards ‘lazy Latins’. In the meantime, adding to the mayhem is a new jelly on the horizon, Francois Holland.

And so to what most people saw as the Main Event: the French Presidential Election. For me, the most encouraging thing was not that France voted for an old-fashioned wishy-washy bourgeois Leftist fluffy (apart from a neo-Nazi, he was the only thing on offer) but rather that they voted for him grudgingly as an attempt to say “We see through you Sarko – you diminished the office of the Presidency, and achieved nothing…so va t’en fou.”

This suggests to me that the French still have enough discernment to tell plastic from leather, but one has to remember that the socialist ideal in France never faced a Thatcher (Sarkozy thought he was that, but he was really more like one of her greasy City boys) and so The Left as an entity doesn’t face quite the same crisis of purpose as Labour in the UK. As to whether the election of this cast-iron member of the French elite (in reality, he is far more Establishment than his predecessor could ever have been) is of real significance, I doubt it.

There is the unalloyed joy of seeing the Fuhrerin with egg all over her face, plus the added bonus of watching Brussels try to make sense of it all as Bedlam breaks out everywhere at once. But for me, the election of Hollande is the logical overture to France’s latest production, L’eurozone est mort, Vive la France. The new President will come to some kind of accommodation with Berlin in the short term, but for the eurozone, only the short term remains. The French civil service has very detailed ideas about the next stage of survival, and they will come to light sooner rather than later.

Yes, I think I can truly say that at last I am getting elections. They seem to be largely about majority negativity, splintered minority protest, and chucking the odd rotten egg from the safety of the crowd. At the moment, the Bourbons in Brussels and Berlin are studiously ignoring the eggs, and occasionally firing over the heads of the crowd. Soon enough, they will start to grasp the perilously tentative grasp they have on the only thing they care about – power. But we are a long way from sea change – or even seasonal change, Spring or otherwise. In the end, there’s no point in being a Pirate: all you do is wind up hanging from Spithead. What we Europeans need is a rejection of the past, and an even bigger rejection of the present. The future is about ideas, change and challenge; but as we don’t have the ideas-people anywhere near the levers of power at the minute, we’re probably in for chaos rather than creativity in the medium term.

29 thoughts on “Quick, I think I’m getting an election

  1. LibDem’s Simon Hughes’ response to the low UK poll turn out was that government should implement internet voting. I suppose he thought voters couldn’t be bothered to get off their a***s to go out in the rain and vote; and in that he was probably right.
    But the solution he proposed suggests that politicians still don’t get it. People are refraining from voting, not just because they are lazy so-and-so’s, but also because there’s no-one worth voting for. The internet wouldn’t have changed that.
    Also I have a confession to make. In the London Mayoral elections I voted for Boris, not because I wanted him in, but because I wanted to keep Ken out. This, I’m sure, happened right across London. This is not the way the system should operate, but it’s the way it does operate. Change needed?

    • If polling did go electronic then the ability to add “None of the above” to the choice list would be cheap and ought to give a more realistic outlook to the choices
      The cost of reruns would be less as well

      • As would the ease of hacking an election. People can’t even be bothered to postal vote…

  2. Dr Frau Merkel has siad she will remove nuclear from producing electricity-she did not eliminate it from producing oil/petrol/gas from coal-just a suggestion.

  3. François Hollande’s office is already saying that ‘Compromise is possible with Merkel’. – And he isn’t even IN office yet!
    Next step – back-tracking on his pledge to bring the boys back from Afghanistan end of 2012?

    • He’s also getting his excuses for failure in early. Knocking Britain always goes down well across the channel. He says we’re not trying hard enough to support the euro. It beggers belief!

  4. “Real discussion of the dangers of a German-dominated eurozone are either ignored by the German majority, or positively approved of….but rarely discussed openly.”… sounds like 1939.

    • The problem it is not Fiscal it is Geopolitical , EU it is not only EUROS it is firstly about PEOPLE, without them EU will not exist.

  5. Casting aside all thoughts of a tumescent nature; if the Greeks cannot coalesce, then what will stop the haemorrhage – a Brussels tourniquet? (I don’t think anyone will ‘get wood’ that way..)

  6. I really don’t get why people refuse to cast a vote. Whether you like it or not, you are a citizen of somewhere or other, and unless you just want someone else to take responsibility for you, you have an obligation to at least make the effort to mark a cross.
    I appreciate that most of us passively hate the corrupted electoral system we have nowadays, but unless you take to the streets, how are you going to change it?
    Perhaps the poster’s idea of ‘none of the above; could be made to work. If the majority vote for NotA, then that would trigger a new by-election within a month, and none of the parties could re-enter, only independents.
    The only other couch-potato way I can see is to withhold your taxes, that would certainly focus attention.

    • It’s a great idea!, by not having a certain level of participation, you automatically trigger another election. Great idea, no government would ever allow it (I wish they would)… that would give credence to the idea that the options presented to the public aren’t sufficient, you have free choice (as long as it is from these candidates…). Since that will never happen… the other ideas you mentioned have a far better track record of affecting actual societal change… tax revolts, and taking to the streets.

    • Registration of Political Parties (Prohibited Words and Expressions) (Amendment) Order 2005 stipulates that no political party can be registered in the UK under the name “None of the Above” – TPTB one step ahead as usual….

    • The idea’s needed to change things are not in short supply. What is in short supply is the desire by the politicians to change things. If they see no benefit for themselves – they will not implement anything.
      I know people knock UKIP and I know John is not keen on Farage as a political leader – but their policy of bringing the democratic system change is well needed reform. They have a lot of policies which fall within the scope of ‘required change’ to improve the UK. I remember the Wisteria moment of Cameron claiming servitude of the people. Needing recall of MPs and less Quango’s and a repeal bill for those laws ‘we the people’ did not like or want. True to form the ‘promises’ of ‘Pants on Fire’ went up in smoke – once the people became actively involved !

  7. This is an excellent article and the clause L’eurozone est morte, Vive la France is brilliant. The Euro was flawed at birth and was doomed to die at a relatively young age. The sovereign debt and banking crisis is highlighting its faults but Brussels, Berlin and Paris have muddled on so it is still on life support. And everyone plays the game so when a new treaty came along everyone, with the exception of two countries, signed on. I can’t for the life of me believe that everyone believed in what they were signing; certainly Spain didn’t. But I simply couldn’t see how the crisis would come to a head without some important country standing up and saying that the Euro isn’t working. Simply complaining about austerity would not be enough. It needed a large country to question the whole house of cards. It couldn’t be the UK, Spain or Italy for obvious reasons. It had to be either France or Germany (or both). With the election of Francois Hollande it increases the probability of it being France. Vive la France!

  8. Oh where oh where is the option which would bring out the voters in high percentage droves, which would sort the Borises from the Kens, the Sarkos from the Hollandes, the Daves from the Eds – for what choices are any of those? I mean of course the option on polling papers to put a nice big cross against “NONE OF THE ABOVE”.
    That way lies anarchy because the majority would regularly vote for “none of the above” and THEN who would form a government?
    But while we have a FPTP 2party system we are stuck with ludicrous polls offering us choices. A Labour coalition of PC lefties, career politicians and union fodder versus Conservative old Etonian chaps, career politicians and City fodder. If people with passion and belief and principle are to step forward for election why would they want to be associated with either of these dinosaur clans? And what chance would they have of getting elected? (Gorgeous George is a one man exception). PR won’t solve the problem of multi party chaos of course. It will make it certain. But Germany and Sweden manage relatively stable governments. Even the Lib-Dems might make it for 5 years, yeah even with the sad leadership of Dave the Klutz if he doesn’t have to fall on his Murdoch sucking sword or his Jeremy Spoonersim.

  9. Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, has just announced that he will host on informal dinner of Heads of State or Government on Wednesday, 23 May, to discuss European growth. I posted yesterday there would be another crisis summit before the month was out. Crisis summits are now called ‘informal dinners. Watch out for the words ‘informal breakfast.’ Then we’ll know were’re in real trouble.

  10. David Cameron: “I get the message – but reform takes time”

    He’s right, but no progress can be made until be begins! And he’s shown no desire nor aptitude to take that on. As I’ve said before, Cameron is wasting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a chainsaw to the bloated, unelected, unaccountable Civil Service in Britain and to reign back their powers. Reforming them into a proper and efficient public service that’s fit for purpose should have been started one day after he walked into Downing Street. Headcount/salaries/pensions/perks/privileges must all be slashed and their hands removed from the levers of power and policy.

    I won’t hold my breath. And when he loses the next general election, Labour will turn it into an even more bloated and corrupt organisation at even greater cost to hard-pressed taxpayers.

    • Wasn’t it Chairman Mao who perceptively said, “The longest journey starts with the first step” ? Still wating for Wavy Davy to learn to walk the walk……..

      • Cameron hasn’t even reached the crawling stage yet – he’s still on his back trying to roll over !

  11. What is completely crazy is the extra 50 seats…for example, in Chania, Crete, where the people voted Syriza, Syriza will take 1 seat – and Nea Democratia, which came in FIFTH will take 3 seats…

  12. @JW: An interesting review of where we’re at in Europe. It looks to me that if chaos continues and gets worse, the doors will be open for strong leaders to appear in these troubled countries. Especially true if fixing the EZ problem causes more widespread hardship. And if that happens, how long before they’re at each others throats?

    The death march has begun…from StratFor today: ____________________________________________________
    “We have been discussing how the financial crisis in Europe is turning
    into a political crisis. The austerity measures demanded of Greece by
    Germany and other countries would in our view not only trigger a crisis
    in Greece — they would also raise profound questions about the rest of
    Europe. The questions would involve not only austerity measures, but the political and financial elites that have dominated Europe for the past generation. The French and Greek elections do not yet represent a
    definitive break with the past, but they are harbingers of an
    intensifying political crisis focused on the old European order.

    By old order we mean not only the Europe that was created by the
    Maastricht Treaty, but the ideology that surrounded it. That ideology
    had two parts. The economic portion was the belief that free trade and
    an integrated regulatory regime would create a framework for a
    prosperity shared equitably between nations and between classes. The
    political portion of the ideology held that the fundamental issues
    dividing European states no longer existed, and that the divisive
    nationalisms of the past had become irrelevant.

    In the French election, we saw the far-right National Front resurge,
    ultimately forcing a tighter runoff in the second round. The party’s
    ideology challenged two key European ideas: that borders are
    meaningless, and that all classes benefit equally from the European
    project. French President-elect Francois Hollande’s victory held open
    the question of borders, but certainly accepted the idea that all
    classes have not benefitted from Europe. His victory also challenged
    Germany’s leadership of Europe. Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel differ substantially in their approaches to Europe’s problems and solutions.

    Greece’s electoral outcome, which has left the two mainstream parties
    struggling to form a coalition government, represents a more advanced
    case of the crisis. The fragmentation of the Greek political system,
    evidenced in part by the inability of the mainstream parties to rule
    alone and enter into a coalition, gives some sense of how far Greece has moved politically over recent years. That of course is not surprising, given the Greek reality.

    The two elections together displayed two things. First, that the far
    right wing is increasingly influential. By far right wing we mean that
    faction which is both populist and xenophobic and opposes the loss of
    sovereignty, the inflow of immigrants, and a system that favors
    financial, political and intellectual elites over the middle and lower
    classes. The National Front’s share of votes in the first round of the
    French presidential elections and the inclusion of radical right-wing
    party Golden Dawn in the Greek parliament are instances of this growing influence.

    Second, we see that mainstream parties that firmly advocate Europeanist ideology will tend to lose. Outgoing French President Nicolas Sarkozy can be seen as the quintessential Europeanist. Even so, during the campaign he had to refrain from Europeanist talk in order to court the far right. Sarkozy went so far as to threaten a suspension of the Schengen Agreement, which allows for open borders between all EU states — the very essence of European integration. Hollande is not prepared to step out of Europe, but neither is he prepared to live with the deals Germany crafted. Similarly, in Greece the mainstream pro-European parties together barely earned half the votes. The other half was spread over a wide array of parties bound together by a mistrust of the mainstream.

    The familiar faces of Europe — Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis
    Rodriguez Zapatero, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Greek
    Prime Minister George Papandreou, and now Sarkozy — are being replaced by leaders who are still in the European mainstream. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to survive as a Europeanist. More precisely, it is difficult to survive as a Europeanist and adopt Germany’s views on austerity. Hollande has broken with the idea of extreme austerity, but not with the idea of Europe.

    In opposing Germany on austerity, Hollande embraces Europe as an
    abstraction. The real Europe is opposed to Germany and the German
    solution to the economic crisis. This is not a stable position for
    Hollande. Given the forces in French politics, he will inevitably move
    further into opposition to the real Europe. Looking forward to other
    elections, it is our view that these will become less predictable and
    less favorable to Europeanists. They will also create increasing
    instability in European countries as new parties and coalitions start to
    emerge.

    Europe’s final act will be political, not financial or economic, and we
    are watching its beginning play out. Its themes are sovereignty, class
    awareness and control of national destiny. It is not an unknown Europe,
    but it is not a Europe Europeans expected to see again. But then, we are
    at the very beginning. France and Greece are not even the overture. But
    that doesn’t mean they don’t point to the climax of the final act.”
    ____________________________________________________

  13. “But we are a long way from sea change” – and that’s the most depressing part of it.

    It is so hard for anyone in the UK to get past the filter of the MSM LibLabCon tacit pact: block everyone else out or at least smear them.

    What’s terrifying is that post the next election we’ll be lumped with Ed or Dave. Ugh.

    I’m no fan of Hollande but I like the fact he said ‘All you care about is the City of London’ to Dave. It’s true.

    The Daily Mail has spun this as a geographic attack when of course that is Paul Dacre’s smoke screen defence for his paper’s friends in the City.

    The City of London is a lawless spivs’ paradise – so long as you work in finance.

    As shambolic as UKIP’s presentation is, I do think some of their failure to make electoral inroads is because most of their opposition to Europe seems to stem less from the national wellbeing they profess to represent, and more because they want the City of London left alone as a spivs paradise. The only thing with any power to rein in the City’s spivvery is Brussels.

    That’s all I can see to Farage.

    • They’re so incompetent they forget to put the name of their party on the London Mayoral Elections ballot; only the name of their (unknown) candidate. Incompetence like that deserves to lose.

  14. It looks like direct action is slowly coming into play: from “Handelsblatt”

    ‘Front against EU officials

    “Eurocrats, take your ties”
    05.07.2012, 19:22

    Extremists are stepping up their confrontation with EU staff – with tasteless stickers, leaflets and graffiti. The privileges of the officials are firing up growing aggression.

    Brussels: European Union officials are used to criticism. The latest case of abuse, however, exceeds all boundaries of good taste and has alarmed the three organisations representing EU officials, the Union Syndicale, the Federation of European Civil Servants and Renouveau & Democracy. In the past few days unknown individuals have distributed stickers calling on the “Eurocrats” to take their ties. Though the writer(s) do not bring the sentence to an end – they do not really leave the rest of it to the imagination.

    Because the caricature on the stickers shows a man who has hanged himself in front of the starred flag with his tie. Above all, the unknown individuals had attached these stickers onto cars whose license plates identify the vehicle owner as a servant of the European Union. But, the stickers have been spotted in subway stations and on street lights.

    “Obviously, the next step threatens individual physical intactness,” says a letter from the union to the EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy. in it, the three representative bodies call on the president to ensure that some Member States and extreme media do not continue to fuel the anti-EU sentiments.”
    (…)
    In recent years, EU officials have already been exposed to verbal attacks by critics. In those cases it was only sporadically. In the meantime, the aggression is increasing, say the unions.
    (…)
    Just a few weeks ago, an unknown group tried to intimidate Commission employees close to the Berlaymont building, in which the EU Commission is housed, and had distributed leaflets there. In tthem, they complained in French about, amongst other things, the austerity measures that the EU is imposing on its members.
    (…)
    In the subway, they sprayted the slogan “Eurocrats de merde”. (…) The city responded quickly to the subway slogan: the quote has now been removed.

    OAH, BT, Kfc – are you mixed up in this?

  15. That cameron article really left me cold. He is SUCH a slimy sh*trag.
    He’s only PM because he promised 5 things.
    1. Get the economy growing.
    2. Reduce immigration
    3. Take a cleaver to the quango, red tape state.
    4. Not being Gordon Brown.
    5. Not f*cking the NHS over.
    He’s succeeded wonderfully on number 4, but on the others he’s a massive failure.. Once the veneer of aristocratic competence and charm wears off, there’s nothing else there. Gordon Brown was a crappy PM, and John Majors butt end years were the worst government since the war, but camerunt is promising to soar far above both of them in terms of uselessness and idiocy.

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