Aftermath
Did the 2014 EU Elections Mean Anything?

European elections are usually forgettable events, but this year’s has laid bare several contradictions at the heart of the European project.

Published on: May 30, 2014
Giovanna Maria Dora Dore is a political economist, formerly at the World Bank and currently a fellow in the Asian Studies Program at the School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University.
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  • Bruce

    How do “anti-austerity” parties win anything when there is no money? It’s not as if austerity is voluntary. It’s what happens when you run out of money.

    • John Stephens

      Are there no printing presses in Brussels? What’s French for “Quantitative Easing”? Have the tax collectors had some collective fit of conscience? There will always be plenty of money, though in the end they won’t be able to buy anything with it.

    • Andrew Allison

      There’s a very real question as to whether the vote was anti-austerity or anti-disenfranchisement. Even Merkel, who put her foot in her mouth a couple of times after the election regarding the failure of the electorate to vote as their governments wished, appears to have come to the realization that the government serves the people, and not the other way around.

      • Corlyss

        If it weren’t for hundreds of years of history to the contrary, I would agree with you about the disenfranchisement part. This is still true, and I don’t see it changing for decades to come. All the European, and increasingly the American, voter cares about is their own personal comfortable circumstances.

        “Equally clear to contemporaries was the the fact that the great mass of people would eventually accept whatever was given or imposed by their rulers, including religion. They might rebel at times but it was usually about bread or taxes, not higher principles. Material reality and their precarious existence weigh too heavily upon them. Their horizons were narrow, their submission traditional and this worked in favor of the established authority whatever its creed or its political color. “The people” were there to be used and manipulated by a tiny political class and would remain so for a very long time.” Prof. Eugene Webber, speaking about realizations at the end of the 30 years war.

        • Andrew Allison

          Re: “All the European, and increasingly the American, voter cares about is their own personal comfortable circumstances.” Twas ever thus; what’s happened in Europe, and may yet happen here, is that the voter’s circumstances are no longer comfortable.

          • Corlyss

            While the American voter has taken an occasional foray into discomfort for a BIG IDEA (you’d be surprised how many records of the day show the powerful and thrilling disapproval of FDR’s socialization of economic and political life), can’t say that about any non-British European, if the British can rightly be called “European.”

          • Andrew Allison

            Did you overlook: “Across Europe, anti-establishment parties of the far right and hard left more than doubled their representation, harnessing a mood of anger with Brussels over austerity, mass unemployment, and immigration.”?

          • Corlyss

            So far, it’s just sound and fury. I’m waiting for what usually happens: the governments buy off the disaffected with some government program/sop.

    • Corlyss

      “It’s what happens when you run out of money.”

      Yeah, but they don’t. They just keep printing it. When speaking of Greece, Italy, and Spain, the effort to squeeze corruption out of the government would be considered “austerity.” David Goldman quipped in 2010 that if the Greek government was to try to put an end to corruption that was costing them so much the entire society would collapse.

  • Pete

    “The euro crisis has exacerbated one of the deepest contradictions at the heart of Europe: the need for more integration among Eurozone economies, and the voters’ rejection of it.

    The ‘need for more integration’ is a figment of the imagination of the Euro-elite and the wannabes like this Dora-Dore.

    • Andrew Allison

      Pete, I think that Dora Dore confused the issue with the reference to the Eurozone. If the Euro is to survive, there needs to be more financial integration. The real issue is the ever-growing reach of EU regulation: “Some of them might want to keep the euro, but an overwhelming majority opposes the enlargement of the powers of the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and the European Parliament.”

      • Bruce

        The Euro is a huge part of the problem. It is a gift to Germany and a curse to Greece and Italy. The Euro needs to not survive. That would fix a lot of what’s wrong. To fix the rest would take a revolt and culture change.

  • Andrew Allison

    Good summary except for the categorization of UKIP as a single-issue party and, by implication (“. . . the UKIP, the more far-right groups . . .”) as far-right. In fact, UKIP concerns are the same as those of the so-called more far-right groups which, in fact, are only “more far-right” when viewed from the left.

  • Corlyss

    Economist, sometimes confused about what they represent, thought the election was a fire bell in the night.

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