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Post EU Parliamentary Elections: Analysis of the UK, Italy Votes
Created by John Eipper on 05/27/19 6:39 AM

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EU Parliamentary Elections: Analysis of the UK, Italy Votes (Timothy Ashby, Spain, 05/27/19 6:39 am)

The final EU election results are in and the Talking Heads on the Beeb and ITV are manic. Although the Brexit Party certainly triumphed in terms of inflicting a stinging defeat on the Conservative and Labour parties, a closer analysis of the UK results shows that on a combined party/ideological basis voters favouring either remaining in the EU or a second referendum (Peoples' Vote--PV) were actually in the majority:

Remain parties: 40.4%
Hard Brexit parties: 34.9%
Conservatives/Labour: 23.2%

People's Vote/Referendum (LD/LAB/CH/PC/SNP/G)= 9,050,033 votes

Anti PV (BXP/CON/UKIP)= 7,304,926 votes

Add to this the results just in from 31 of the 32 councils across Scotland showed the SNP, who fought the election campaign on a strong pro-European platform, had polled 37.7 per cent (wiping out Labour).

This means that four of Scotland's six new MEPs will be anti-Brexit: the SNP's Alyn Smith, Christian Allard and Aileen McLeod, Louis Stedman-Bruce from the Brexit Party, Sheila Ritchie of the Liberal Democrats (pro-EU) and Baroness Nosheena Mobarik of the Conservatives (she voted Remain and is rumoured to be pro-EU despite public rhetoric to the contrary).

I think that a general election held on the premise of resolving the Brexit crisis is even more likely. Given the results cited above, I predict that Corbyn (whose Labour Party was hammered everywhere nearly as badly as the Tories in the EU elections) will accede to the pressure of many of his senior colleagues and advocate a People's Vote. I stand by my prediction in a previous posting that Labour will not win an absolute majority but will have enough seats to form a coalition government with the SNP and the Greens (and possibly with the Liberal Democrats).

John Eipper repeated José Ignacio Soler's question: "are anti-EU complaints about a lack of democracy born primarily of xenophobia? This would be very hard to prove. Imagine this survey question: 'Is your principled opposition to the EU really based on a dislike of foreigners?'"

Polling from the runup to the EU elections seems to answer this. In Italy, Salvini's League party paralleled the Brexit party in winning the largest number of seats, but--surprisingly--not because of Salvini's attacks on the EU. Polls show that 68 per cent of League voters want Italy to stay in the EU but support Salvini due to his attacks on migrants. According to The Times (of London), in a straw poll at a Salvini rally in Novi Ligure, almost all cited fear of a migrant invasion as the main reason they showed up to support Mr Salvini, rather than hostility to the EU. Unlike the Brexit and UKIP parties, European populist/nationalist parties seem to be moving away from a policy of leaving the European Union in favour of taking over in Brussels and reforming the EU from within.

JE comments:  What surprises me most is the plummeting support for mainstream/traditional politics, seemingly everywhere.  This is the case even in the US, with the ascendancy of Trumpist populism among the Republicans, and Democratic Socialism with the Democrats.

Tim, excellent analysis.  Is a "people's vote" on Brexit now all but assured?

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  • EU Parliamentary Elections: Good News for the Union? (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 05/28/19 2:58 AM)
    The May 26th European Parliamentary elections yielded some expected and some unexpected results, both at the local and the EU-wide levels. I will try to summarize them.

    The overall turnout was 50.95%, the highest ever, reflecting a higher concern for the EU's future among Europeans.

    The EPP, European Popular Party (center-right), received the most votes, followed by the Socialists. The overall standings are as follows.

    EPP (right): 23.97%; 180 seats

    European Socialist: 19.44%; 146 seats

    Liberals (center right): 14.51%; 109 seats

    Euroskeptics: 22.00%; 165 seats

    Green (environmentalist): 9.18%; 69 seats

    Others: 10.90%; 82 seats

    In my opinion the main conclusions might be:

    1. The rise of the Euroskeptic, nationalist and populist parties was not as much as expected, although Farage's party won in Great Britain, Salvini's in Italy, Le Pen's in France, as well as similar parties in Poland and other countries. Fortunately British Euroskeptics eventually will be leaving the EU parliament.

    2. There is no longer a traditional bi-party coalition to run the parliament; they must agree on multi-party coalitions.

    3. The Euroskeptics will not be able to block any legislative initiative because they have not reached 1/3 of the seats.

    4. In any case, it will be hard for nationalist parties and Euroskeptics to agree on something, because of their self-centered interests, and it would be difficult for them really to have a unified position of any significance.

    In conclusion, the general results are great news for the consolidation of the European Community.

    JE comments: The European Parliamentary elections did not yield a mandate for any position.  Expect more "Europe at a Crossroads" discussions in the coming months (and years).

    I raised this question before, but I wonder how many of the Brexiteer MEPs will have second thoughts once they taste the Good Life in Brussels?

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    • On Coalition Governments; UKIP and Brexit Party (John Heelan, UK 05/29/19 11:13 PM)
      José Ignacio Soler wrote on May 28th: "There is no longer a traditional bi-party coalition to run the [European] parliament; they must agree on multi-party coalitions."

      The current in-word is "fragmentation" of politics. That is itself a danger. I have argued in the past that any coalition of fragmented political parties is at risk of having its policies decided by a small "kingmaker" party promising support for a larger party (Israel's Knesset is a good example, as was the plethora of Italian coalitions in the '60s and '70s--there were 23 governments in as many years?) In the UK we suffered from the Lib/Lab and Con/Lib coalitions--the latter presided over by the "disastrous duo" Cameron and Osborne.

      On a related topic, John E asked about the Brexit party: "Why the schism with UKIP?" There was no schism, just smart campaigning persuading UKIP voters to transfer their allegiance to the Brexit Party to take advantage of the widespread failure of Labour and Conservatives to find a way out of the Brexit muddle.

      JE comments: I'm still unclear about the raison d'être of the Brexit Party--why was there a need for two "leave" parties?  Had UKIP become simply too controversial?

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  • EU Parliamentary Elections: Will the British Results Carry Over to the Next General Election? (John Heelan, UK 05/28/19 3:19 AM)
    Tim Ashby wrote on May 27th: "The Brexit Party certainly triumphed in terms of inflicting a stinging defeat on the Conservative and Labour parties." However, if one examines the voting figures a little more closely, one finds that Brexit's remarkable percentage gains are lessened by the percentage losses of UKIP switching their votes to the Brexit Party.

    Whether the surprising resurgence of the Liberal Democrat party would turn into electoral success might be questioned (I voted for them in the past) when one remembers both Clegg (the then leader) and Cable (the current leader) reneged on the manifesto promise about student loans, costing my family many tens of thousands of pounds, reminding me of the old political jibe often aimed at Blair: "Fool me once: silly YOU: Fool me twice: silly ME!"

    Further, the decline of trust in the political class of Westminster (one of the reasons for the success of the Brexit Party) might besmirch all parties in the next General Election.

    Another aspect is the rise of nationalist parties in the EU.

    JE comments:  I was asleep at the switch:  I thought UKIP was the Brexit Party, but I now see that they are separate entities.  Is the "BP" a one-issue only party for the recent European Parliamentary elections?  Why the schism with UKIP?

    And how do we explain the rebirth of the Liberal Democrats?  Is it a default reaction to combined May/Tory and Corbyn fatigue?

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  • "People's Vote" Another Brexit Referendum? (Timothy Ashby, Spain 05/28/19 3:40 AM)
    When commenting on my WAIS post of May 27th, John E asked, "Is a 'people's vote' on Brexit now all but assured?"

    It's far from being assured, but inching in that direction, especially if the Labour Party officially comes out in favour of a referendum.

    Having asked about a dozen friends how they voted, it seems that most were former Tories or Labourites who voted Green, LibDem or Brexit in protest.  If the next Tory PM takes an unequivocal stance on a "No Deal" Brexit, there will almost certainly be a vote of no confidence in the House, bringing down the short-lived government and leading to a General Election.

    JE comments:  What are the positions of the LibDems and the Greens on a popular vote/second Referendum?  Together they received 32% of the recent vote, more than Labour and the Conservatives combined.

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    • Brexit, Greens, and Liberal Democrats (Timothy Ashby, Spain 05/30/19 12:03 AM)

      John E asked about the remain/leave positions of the UK Greens and Liberal Democrats. Both parties are pro-EU (Remain) and believe that a Second Referendum would result in a victory for the Remainers.

      JE comments:  Thank you, Tim.  If there's one truism about political polling of the last decade, is that it's usually wrong.  But having said that, what is the accepted wisdom on a Second Referendum?  Would the results be more or less the same as the first one?

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      • Boris Johnson and Julius Caesar (John Heelan, UK 05/31/19 12:12 AM)
        Tim Ahsby wrote on 30 May: "Both the Greens and the Liberal Democrats are pro-EU (Remain) and believe that a Second Referendum would result in a victory for the Remainers."

        Maybe, maybe not? Some of us recall the Lib Dem betrayal of their Manifesto promises on funding tertiary tuition, headed up by the current Leader (Vince Cable) who introduced the Bill in Parliament.

        In the meantime, as the front-runners jostle to replace Theresa May, one is reminded of Mark Antony's speech in Julius Caesar that might be posited today as "I come not to praise Bojo but to bury him!"

        (To remind us, "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones. So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus hath told you Caesar was ambitious If it were so, it was a grievous fault, And grievously hath Caesar answered it." Previously Caesar has commented to Mark Antony, "CAESAR (aside to ANTONY): Let me have men about me that are fat, sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights. Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look"--as do some of the contenders.

        Is history repeating itself (again)? Johnson and Gove clashed during the 2016 leadership contest after the Environment Secretary withdrew his support for the former London Mayor to run for the top job himself. The spectacular falling out between the two former allies helped destroy both men's chances to lead their party at the time.

        See https://metro.co.uk/2019/05/26/michael-gove-leads-operation-stop-boris-johnson-race-no-10-turns-bitter-9692262/?ito=cbshare

        Be careful to whom you expose your back, Bojo!

        JE comments:  Gove is marketing himself as the "unity candidate" for leadership of the Conservatives.  We don't know much about him in the US.  John, do you believe Gove has a chance of outmaneuvering Johnson?

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        • Does Michael Gove Stand a Chance to Become PM? (John Heelan, UK 06/01/19 1:00 AM)
          JE wrote on 31 May: "Michael Gove is marketing himself as the 'unity candidate' for leadership of the Conservatives. We don't know much about him in the US. John, do you believe Gove has a chance of outmaneuvering Johnson?"

          Possibly, even given an op-ed by his wife (Sarah Vine or Vain, as some call her), in the Daily Mail a day or so ago that revealed Gove had to take his driving test seven times and still cannot load the dishwasher--these are hardly recommendations to lead the Tories or become the next PM.

          However, Johnson and Gove clashed during the 2016 leadership contest after the Environment Secretary withdrew his support for the former London Mayor to run for the top job himself.

          The spectacular falling out between the two former allies helped destroy both men's chances to lead their party at the time.

          The leadership contest is becoming bitter as the contestants snipe at each other in the media. Despite appearing to be a buffoon, Bojo has some smarts, especially for political infighting. However, being called a "friend" by the Trumpster might prove a "kiss of death" for Bojo's ambitions when added to his zippergate reputation. As always in these political squabbles, the promised sticks and carrots (including promises of peerages and knighthoods) become the true movers and shakers.

          JE comments:  I pride myself with my driving skills--but Aldona would also argue that I can't load a dishwasher.  She stuffs three times the dishes in one go.

          Does a Trump endorsement help any political candidate outside the US?

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