Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Sunday, 7 June 2009

European Parliament elections - 7 Jun - day 4

Today is the fourth and final day of voting in the elections for the European Parliament; voting is taking place today in 19 countries:

Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Italy (*)
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden

(*) Second day of voting in Italy.

Austria - Public opinion in Austria is much against use of GMOs in agriculture - there's an embedded video via the link that's worth watching. Estimates are that only around 20 per cent of Austrians will vote today. Austria's economic fate is cloesly aligned with the economies of eastern Europe, given the massive extent of its investments in and lending to countries in that region, so the world recession which has affected the region will have a strong impact on Austria, too. Some facts about Austria are in the European Parliament website here.

Belgium - Voting is compulsory so there is normally a 90 per cent plus turnout in votes here, but despite this these elections are likely to be overshadowed in importance by local issues in the regional elections. The economic crisis is likely to push the European elections even further than is usual to the sidelines in importance. Some facts about Belgium are in the European Parliament website here.

Bulgaria - European elections are probably still something of a novelty here, but as often happens elsewhere national self-interest overrides community cohesion. A desire to combat domestic corruption in the use of EU funds is thought likely to keep voting numbers high. Some facts about Bulgaria are in the European Parliament website here.

Denmark - A poll estimates that voter turnout may reach 56 per cent, the second-highest in the EU after Luxembourg and Belgium; voting may be boosted because there is a simultaneous national referendum on changing the Danish Act of Succession to remove gender as a factor in deciding the order of accession to the throne. As in other countries lack of media interest is criticised for reducing public awareness of the issues at stake. Some facts about Denmark are in the European Parliament website here.

Estonia - The country where Skype originated is commonly-agreed to be at the forefront of internet usage and is using i-voting for the first time in European elections, having tried the idea for the first time in 2005 for local elections then later in 2007 for national elections, although whether this will boost voter turnout is open to question; at the last elections in 2004 the turnout was only 27 per cent, one of the lowest in the EU. More here. Some facts about Estonia are in the European Parliament website here.

Finland - The trappings of EU membership (the flag, the anthem) are of little importance to most Finns, when compared with the practical benefits it is hoped it will bring. There is relatively low voter turnout, reflecting the value Finns place on it and its perceived legitimacy. The highly eurosceptic True Finns party has been gaining in support in recent elections, as has the National Coalition party of the Finance Minister, both to the detriment of the Prime Minister's Centre party. Some facts about Finland are in the European Parliament website here.

France - According to this Telegraph article President Sarkozy has been keen to turn the European elections into a referendum on his Presidency as despite his own relative unpopularity the opposition is even less liked. There are 161 list candidates for the 72 French seats, with only 47 per cent expected to vote. Some facts about France are in the European Parliament website here.

Germany - Turnout may be lower than the 43 per cent last time in 2004, and may not exceed 40 per cent for the 99 seats on offer, the largest national representation by far in the 736 seat European Parliament. According to this report only a trickle of voters had made it to the polling stations by midday, indicating the electorate may be ignoring the pleas from the major parties to use their votes. National elections are scheduled for September this year and despite the rising unemployment, lower order books and a somewhat gloomy feeling amongst the electorate, polling suggests Angela Merkel's ruling centre-right coalition is likely to do well in both the European and national elections. Some facts about Germany are in the European Parliament website here.

Greece - According to polling the main opposition party, PASOK, is likely to do best in the elections, followed by the ruling New Democracy Party of Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis. Recent corruption scandals mean that the elections are focussing almost entirely on national issues, specially after the riots of last year. Control of [illegal] immigration is a major issue. Some facts about Greece are in the European Parliament website here.

Hungary - The 'far-right' Jobbik party is thought likely to win at least one seat; the language they use in relation to the country's gypsy (Roma) population is quite shocking, although such policies are not limited to Hungary, but extend to several other eastern European countries with Roma populations. Some facts about Hungary are in the European Parliament website here.

Italy - Italy holds its European Parliament elections over two days. The country's parlous economic and unemployment situation, not to mention domestic political controversy involving the personal life of its Prime Minister are, together with worries about immigration, the hot topics of interest to Italian voters. Some facts about Italy are in the European Parliament website here.

Lithuania - The country recently elected its first female President. it is suffering badly in the present economic crisis. The President-elect is urging people to vote and not to succumb to indifference. Some facts about Lithuania are in the European Parliament website here.

Luxembourg - The attack on banking secrecy, principally orchestrated from Berlin and Paris, together with the financial crisis, is forcing Luxembourg to reassess its policies. Comments from German SPD leader Franz Müntefering, who in all seriousness, explained that in the past, Berlin would have settled the matter "by sending in the troops" were obviously not designed to massage the tiny country's sensibilities! Some facts about Luxembourg are in the European Parliament website here.

Poland - Predictions are that the country will favour 'right-leaning' political parties, which could pose a problem for the UK Conservative party in its plans to leave the EPP and set up a new partnership involving the Polish Law and Justice party, widely believed to espouse homophobic, eccentric and nationalistic policies. Some facts about Poland are in the European Parliament website here.

Portugal - Only one in eight of Portuguese say they know when the elections are held, and turnout is projected to reach only 24 per cent. There is some anti-capitalist campaigning here, noted also in other EU member states, perhaps a worry for the future if the economic crisis continues. Some facts about Portugal are in the European Parliament website here.

Romania - The country is voting for the first time in European Parliament elections, but these are being overshadowed by the Presidential elections due in the Autumn. Whilst membership of the EU seems popular, the country is still getting used to having a market economy. Some facts about Romania are in the European Parliament website here.

Slovenia - Some facts about Slovenia are in the European Parliament website here.

Spain - A new third party is attempting to break the duopoly of power in Spain held by the two major political parties. Some facts about Spain are in the European Parliament website here.

Sweden - A curiosity here is the new Pirates Party, campaigning to implement a sweeping reform of copyright law and an end to patents. Some facts about Sweden are in the European Parliament website here.

1 comment:

  1. Some facts about...

    everybody outside of Newcastle.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVdIAA21rRA

    (8:15 in)

    ReplyDelete

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