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2004-06-14

Initial data crunching 

One could make such a great TV program out of these EU-elections! I'm thinking of something similar to the TV coverage of US presidential elections, with results from the 25 member countries coming in in hourly intervals, all sorts of animations showing how the new factions in parliament are building up.. oh well, maybe next time. Still, it's a data feast, if only one had the time to digest it properly... Here are my initial bits and pieces.

1) Austria: SPÖ 33.45% - ÖVP 32.66% - HPM 14.04% - Greens 12.75% - FPÖ 6.33%

2) German-speaking Greens: Vienna 22%, Berlin 23%, Munich 23%, Frankfurt 25%. The time of Green mayors in major German-speaking cities may come within the next 15 years.

3) FPÖ: They are now back to the results they had got for decades as a somehow liberal party (with an ex-Nazi fringe). All the gains Haider made with his campaign of populism and xenophobia since the mid 80's have evaporated. You have to imagine that four years ago the FPÖ had 27% at the national elections to understand the relief felt throughout most of Austria today.

4) HPM: Last Friday I compared the Austrian branch of Europe Transparent unfavourably to their Dutch cousins. The Austrians polled twice as high, gaining votes from all other parties in a resolutely populist style. Populism works.

5) Austrian Greens: I claimed that whenever Greens turn economically mature, they advance from 5% to 10%. They came in at 12.75% on a campaign that keeps both the left-wingers and the liberals on board. With the FPÖ possibly disintegrating further, the Austrian Greens may find themselves in a goverment coalition rather sooner than later. I still think that they cannot escape some tough decisions on how to define themselves in economic policy.

6) Party-changing Baltics: Not only opposition parties, but in the case of Lithuania also a completely new party are the winners in the Baltic states. When I was in Lithuania, I was told that below the surface the main players in the political system are staying more or less the same over the years, even as party names and top-candidates keep coming and going.

7) Populists: Some did well, but still less so than expected (UK Independence Party, Polish Samoobrona), others scored surprisingly high. From a newspaper commentary [DE] in Die Presse:
One stays at home ... or smacks the own government (at least one knows them, and there will be no consequences anyway), or one votes for the protest figure currently in fashion. Five years ago it was Jörg Haider, today it is Hans-Peter Martin. A consistent program or perspective exists neither at the right populists, nor at the left populists. Both remain historic meteors from beer garden's mercy. Their influence in Europe is in no relation to the waves which they manage to stir up in the media time and again.
8) EU commission presidency: Chancellor Schüssel's conservative ÖVP did not manage to come first, but it won 2% compared to the last EU elections. The Austrian conservative media conclude that he has now good chances to become the successor of Romano Prodi at the head of the commission. I'm sceptical, due to his bad international reputation from the time he first went into coalition with the FPÖ.


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