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European Parliament 2004 elections and new constitution

by FN Tuesday, Jun. 22, 2004 at 10:02 AM

The European Parliament elections, held June 10-13, showed a strong trend among voters against ruling parties that sided with Bush's war on Iraq, as well as those that have been imposing pro-business economic policies, as in Germany and France.

UPDATE: despite voters' opposition, the European Union members' heads of state have just announced their agreement on a European Constitution, which must be ratified by all member states before taking effect. This constitution mandates military expansion, placing control outside the European and national parliaments, as well as establishing far-reaching corporate rights and restricting social protections, reshaping the continent in America's image.

But passage is not yet a given as several countries will be placing the European Constitution to a referendum.

Covering 25 countries, including for the first time the 10 new member-states in the east, the European Union is second only to India in its number of voters. In addition to the Iraq war and economic class warfare, a major issue cutting across all countries was the future of European integration. Many voters chose to express their rejection of the anti-democratic, pro-corporate European constitution being proposed by voting against its most prominent proponents. In addition to granting far-reaching corporate rights and restricting social protections, the EU constitution would mandate massive military expansion to enable future imperialist invasions.

The main political groupings in the European Parliament did not change their overall relative standing; most shifts occurred within each country and political grouping. The conservative christian democrats came in first, followed by labor/social democrats/socialists, libertarian/liberal centrists, eurosceptics, greens/regionalists, far left, and far right.

In Western Europe, the trend was toward an increase in support for the labor parties (except Britain and Germany), but conservatives ran very strong in Eastern Europe, thus balancing the outcome. The centrists ran strong everywhere, and the eurosceptics grew tremendously everywhere outside the original EU core (France, Germany, Benelux, Italy).

Of the major West European countries, Britain faced the greatest political upheaval, with the Labour Party of Tony Blair (also known as the "Bliar" for his statements on Iraq) getting a moribund 20% of the vote, with the Conservatives having a major drop as well, while the eurosceptic United Kingdom Independence Party surged from almost nowhere to within striking distance of both. The Greens and the racist British National Party also made big gains, though the BNP failed to win a seat. Although the EU elections mandate proportional represenation, by rigging the boundaries of the electoral regions Blair was able to keep a disproportionately large number of Labour MEPs (Members of European Parliament), mostly at the expense of the Conservatives, Greens, BNP, and the socialist anti-war Respect Coalition.

The Green parties across Europe witnessed divergent trends: in Germany and Britain, the Greens did very well, benefiting from dissatisfaction with the ruling reformist labor parties in those countries, but elsewhere their support generally dropped. The German and French Green parties have a more centrist "realo" reputation, supporting interventionist wars, such as the one by NATO against Yugoslavia; the more left "fundi" parties lost ground. The Greens' centrist regionalist allies, such as the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru (Welsh), have stayed stagnant or also lost some ground.

For the far left, the results were also mixed. Those parties that pursued a reformist coalition strategy (France, Spain) lost many seats, as did the Trotskyites; those who kept a strongly left stand (Czech Republic, Portugal) and those who pursued a broad tent left strategy (Netherlands, Germany) made gains. In the Czech Republic, the KSCM became the second-strongest party with their best results ever. For Germans, the eastern-based PDS finally began to gain some ground in the west as voters deserted the reformist SPD en masse, but most disaffected SPD supporters either didn't vote or turned to the centrists and Greens in protest, not realizing that both support even deeper cutbacks and more pro-business policies. Also, the PDS surged to second and even first place in several eastern states. However, in Berlin, where the PDS has imposed pro-business budget cuts in a coalition government with the SPD, the voters gave both of them a stunning rebuke.

Finally, for those who are interested in resistance movements, Sinn Fein won seats for the first time, in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. However, the Republic of Ireland also passed a constitutional amendment that withholds citizenship from the children born to recent immigrants. Protesting prohibition of Basque separatist groups by the Spanish government, activists organized their own parallel election. And while outside the European Union, Serbians gave the most votes in the first of two rounds of elections to Radical Party presidential candidate Tomislav Nikolic, who has supported Slobodan Milosevic and economic autonomy, and opposed the NATO war on Yugoslavia that Clinton and Blair waged in violation of the United Nations.

The next major elections are for the Canadian Parliament on June 28, where like the United States, the outcome is too close to call. The incumbent Liberal Party has become increasingly centrist, while a newly-united Conservative Party wants to change Canada toward Bush's vision for the U.S. The socialist New Democratic Party and the French-speaking Bloc Quebecois may wind up with the balance of power.

For European Parliament election results:

For national election authorities:

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