Exit polls paint bleak picture in UK for anti-Conservative bloc

According to current exit polling from the UK, the Conservatives surged way ahead of pre-election polling and will finish just 10 seats short of a majority. With Lib Dems, far-right UKIP, and conservative unionist Northern Irish parties supporting, they would be able to form a government. The Lib Dems got crushed but still are kingmakers — which is toxic for them since so many LD voters bailed because of their role in the coalition government last time, which would be even less powerful this time around. In fact, the Conservatives seem well positioned to just form a minority government, though I don’t know how long it could last even under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.

Labour got all but swept in Scotland by the SNP (i.e. maybe one seat remains) and lost in England to add insult to desperation. They ended up finishing worse than in 2010, contrary to all pre-election polling.

Bottom line from the current exit polling: Conservatives outperformed expectations by quite a lot and will probably lead the next government. Labour screwed up badly on top of their Scotland problems.

UKIP really just leaning in on the open racism now

Remember the good old days of 2014, when Nigel Farage pretended UKIP wasn’t a racist party and insisted everyone should pretend along with him? Those days are over, per this very exhaustive column by an anti-discrimination campaigner, charting the slide over the past two years from running on British “sovereignty” (whatever that means) toward openly racist political campaigns:

When asked by a Channel 4 documentary if there should be a law against discrimination on the grounds of race or colour in a ‘Ukip Britain’, the Ukip leader replied emphatically: “No.” Despite some attempts at backtracking, he has maintained he would axe many of our race discrimination laws.

 
Then it just devolves from there.

I’d also observe however that Farage’s positions highlighted in the piece — anti-immigrant, race-baiting, opposing discrimination protection laws — are actually the same as those of mainstream Republican leadership thought here in the United States.

And UKIP, which this time around still aren’t expected to capture more than a handful of seats, is having a similar effect on the Conservative Party in Britain as the embedded Republican far-right has in the United States: dragging even the theoretically sane and non-bigoted people toward oblivion in an effort to stave off electoral demise and irrelevancy. It’s simply more noticeable in countries like the United Kingdom or the rest of the European Union when it’s a separate party articulating everything openly and proudly … and winning significant vote share and even seats.

I’m honestly not sure whether it’s more dangerous to have the crazy faction hiding inside the mainstream party or out in the open as a separate party in the legislative body. It’s actually probably easier to sideline and dismiss them when they operate as a separate party than when they’re skulking around the major center-right party’s inner workings.

The Globalist | Political Courage: Merkel Vs. Cameron

The following originally appeared in The Globalist.

In politics, doing the right thing should be done for its own sake, not for tactical reasons.

At the start of the New Year, the world leader who deserves praise in this regard is German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In the face of rising anti-Islamic protests in her country – a Dresden hate rally on December 22, 2014 reached a record 17,500 people – she chose to condemn the protests directly in her New Year’s speech.

“There is no place here for stirring up hatred and telling lies about people who have come to us from other countries,” she said.

Merkel added that the protest leaders had “prejudice, coldness or even hatred in their hearts” and observed that their clever rhetoric masks an ugly message that “You don’t belong, because of the color of your skin, or your religion.”

A spokesperson for the Chancellor followed up this pronouncement with the following statement:

“In Germany, there is no place for stirring up hatred against believers, for propaganda against religions of any sort, no place for right-wing extremism, and no place for xenophobia. The entire German government is united in its condemnation of any such thing.”

 
Lest readers believe this was an easy course of action requiring little thought, consider that a new poll by Forsa for Stern magazine. It found that 13% of Germans would attend an anti-Muslim rally in their own community — and 29% believed the rallies were justified.

Cameron’s response

Contrast Ms. Merkel’s determination in the face of a rising tide of xenophobic hate with Prime Minister David Cameron’s positioning. All that he has mustered is a weak rejection, even uncomfortable accommodation, of Britain’s mounting xenophobia and anti-immigrant views in the political sphere and general population.

Mr. Cameron has cowered before the growing power of UKIP and his own party’s more distasteful right wing, as the anti-outside-world politicians in Britain have surged to victories in the EU elections and parliamentary by-elections.

Conclusion

Chancellor Merkel deserves praise for standing fast against political extremism, anti-immigrant activists and anti-Muslim sentiments. Other elected global leaders would do well to learn from her example in the New Year’s speech and actually lead on this issue in 2015.

Pictured: Prime Minister David Cameron, President Barack Obama, and Chancellor Angela Merkel, May 2012, watching a Chelsea vs. Munich soccer match during the G8 summit. (White House Photo)

Pictured: Prime Minister David Cameron, President Barack Obama, and Chancellor Angela Merkel, May 2012, watching a Chelsea vs. Munich soccer match during the G8 summit. (White House Photo)


Additional note for clarity, for non-Globalist readers: Read more

More anti-EU plans from Cameron after another UKIP win

Following the earlier first-place nationwide triumph this year by the right-wing/anti-European “UK Independence Party” (UKIP) in the 2014 European Union elections, mainstream British politics suffered another serious blow last night, as the first elected UKIP member of the UK parliament was elected in a special election. As with his response to the EU election result, Prime Minister David Cameron yet again handled the situation by immediately ratcheting up rhetoric and policy plans against the European Union (and immigrants), according to the (pro-Conservative) Telegraph:

David Cameron will unveil tough plans to restrict immigration from the European Union within weeks to stop another Ukip MP being elected following Thursday night’s by-election [in Clacton].

Douglas Carswell, a former Conservative, yesterday became the first MP elected to Parliament for Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party following a huge swing in support.

Conservatives warned that the decision by traditional Tory supporters to vote for Ukip would allow Ed Miliband to become Prime Minister if repeated in the general election in 209 days.

Labour narrowly won a second by-election by just 617 votes [over the UKIP candidate] and Mr Miliband is also now facing a major challenge from UKIP in [Labour’s] traditional northern heartlands.

 
The party elite’s right-wing also trumpeted the defeat as a sign that the Conservatives must double-down on anti-immigrant, anti-EU policies and even break up the coalition government with the far more moderate and internationalist Liberal Democrats. While not going that far, Cameron and the ruling government did continue to recast the party toward the euroskeptic position:

The Prime Minister said: “If you vote Ukip, you’re in danger of getting a Labour government with Ed Miliband as prime minister, Ed Balls as chancellor and you’ll get no action on immigration, no European referendum, and obviously – most importantly – you won’t get a continuation of the plan that is delivering success for our economy and security for our people.”
[…]
Brandon Lewis, a communities minister, said that the Tories will put immigration “at the heart” of the renegotiation with the EU to be held before an in-out referendum scheduled for 2017.

He said: “What people are worried about though is migration from the EU, and the Prime Minister made very clear last week that has got to be one of the key things at the heart of renegotiation that we will have before that referendum which we will deliver in 2017.”

 
And after its own close shave in the other by-election, the Labour Party leader also made rumblings of rethinking Labour’s immigration policy:

Mr Miliband conceded that Labour now needs to address “specific concerns” about immigration and denied that he was “complacent”.

 
Miliband is undoubtedly keeping in the back of his mind the situation in France and elsewhere, where traditional far-left, working class communities have gradually abandoned the leftist parties in favor of ultra-right-wing nationalist parties that vow to halt immigration and restore protectionist industrial policies that once helped those workers. Labour is significantly more economically centrist than it once was.
Read more

June 9, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 87

AFD-logo-470
Extended Episode. Topics: Right-wing extremism in the US & Europe, FIFA is terrible. People: Bill, Nate, guest expert Etienne Borocco.

Discussion Points:

– Should right-wing violence in America be considered terrorism? Should terrorism be treated differently from other crimes?
– Just how awful is FIFA? Is the World Cup a net harm to host countries and cities?
– How should Europe respond to the rise of neo-Nazi parties such as Golden Dawn?
– Who are the Front National and why are they winning in France?
– Who are the UKIP and why are the winning in Britain?

Part 1 – Nevada Attack:
Part 1 – Nevada Attack – AFD 87
Part 2 – FIFA/World Cup:
Part 2 – FIFA World Cup – AFD 87
Part 3 – Golden Dawn:
Part 3 – Golden Dawn – AFD 87
Part 4 – Etienne Borocco on French and UK Populism:
Part 4 – European Elections – AFD 87

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links

– AFD Guest: “EU Elections, the Rising Populists, and Why Europe is Worried” by Etienne Borocco
– AFD: “Cameron making louder “Brexit” noises after UKIP win
– Guardian: “SS songs and antisemitism: the week Golden Dawn turned openly Nazi
– AFD: “Vegas attack was domestic terrorism, tied to Bundy standoff
– AFD: “Alt-history novelists have got nothing on Cliven Bundy
– AFD: “No shock there: Bundy a raging racist
– AFD Radio: “April 21, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 81
– Last Week Tonight: John Oliver explains the mess that is FIFA
– AFD: “2022: Slavery World Cup

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And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

EU Elections, the Rising Populists, and Why Europe is Worried

Guest post by Etienne Borocco in France: Europe went to the polls last weekend and elected a lot of fringe politicians to the EU parliament. So what does it all mean?

Traditionally, the turnout is low in the European elections: only about 40%. This year, it was 43%. The functioning of the European Union is quite complex, as depicted in the chart below:

Illustration 1: Flowchart of the European political system (Credit: 111Alleskönner - Wikipedia)

Illustration 1: Flowchart of the European political system (Credit: 111Alleskönner – Wikipedia)

Why the EU elections matter — and why the media and most voters ignore them:

The directly elected European parliament and the unelected Council of the European Union (Council of Ministers) co-decide legislation. The European Commission has the monopoly of initiative, i.e. it is the only one to initiate proposals. The European Parliament can vote on and amend proposals and has the prerogative to vote on budgets. If the Council of European Union say no to a project and the parliament yes, the project is rejected. So the parliament is often described as powerless and its work, which is often about very technical subjects, does not hold the media’s attention very much. Consequently, the European elections to vote for Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have a low turnout – and a lot of electors use it to express concerns about national subjects.

For example in France, 37% of the registered voters answered that they would vote by first considering national issues and 34% also answered that they would vote to sanction the government. The proportional vote system (in contrast with America’s first-past-the-post Congressional elections, for example) gives an additional incentive to vote honestly according to one’s opinion, rather than strategically for a major party (or major blocs of allied parties in the case of the EU parliament).

The May 25th European election was a shock in the European Union, even after the small parties had long been expected to do well. The biggest parliamentary groups in the European parliaments lost seats, while parties that reject or contest the European Union rose dramatically.

In Denmark, in the United Kingdom, and in France, the anti-euro right wing took the first place. It was particularly striking in France because unlike the traditionally euroskeptic UK or Denmark, France was one of the founding countries of European integration and is a key member of the eurozone (while the other two are outside it). The Front National (FN), which has anti-EU and anti-immigration positions, gathered one quarter of the vote in France. Non-mainstream parties captured significant shares in other countries, although they did not finish first.

Populist/Right-wing/Anti-EU party vote share by country in the 2014 EU elections. Data via European Parliament. Map by Arsenal For Democracy.

Populist/Right-wing/Anti-EU party vote share by country in the 2014 EU elections. Data via European Parliament. Map by Arsenal For Democracy.

The new seat allocations:

Let’s look at the gains and losses. With the exception of the socialist bloc, the traditional parties lost seats — particularly in the mainstream conservative EPP and centrist ALDE blocs, which virtually collapsed. The May 25 European parliamentary elections also marked the notable appearance of new populist right-wing parties in Eastern Europe, among the newer member states. For example, two conservative libertarian parties (movements that are a bit like a European version of Ron Paul) won seats – the KNP in Poland and Svobodní in Czech Republic. Moreover, the national government ruling parties were hugely rejected in most countries, whether by populist fringe parties dominating (as in France, the UK and Denmark) or by the main national opposition parties beating the ruling parties.

2014-european-election-results-table

Among the non-aligned (NA) members elected, if we exclude the six centrists MEPs of the Spanish UPyD (Union, Progress and Democracy), the 35 MEPs remaining are from far-right parties.

Among the 60 “Others” MEPs, there are 3 MEPs of Golden Dawn in Greece and 1 MEP of the NPD in Germany, both of which are neo-Nazi parties. The NPD was able to win a seat this year because Germany abolished the 3% threshold. With 96 seats for Germany, only 1.04% of the vote is enough to get a seat. The Swedish Democrats (far right) got 2 seats. In total, 38 MEPs represent far-right parties, out of a total of 751 MEPs.

So why do observers talk about an explosion of far right?

Beyond those scattered extremists, the vote for the more organized euroskeptic, hardcore conservative, and far right parties all increased sharply. The UKIP in UK (26.77%, +10), the National Front (FN) in France (24.95%, +18), the Danish People’s Party (DPP) (26.6%,+10) and the FPÖ in Austria (19.7%,+7) rocketed from the fringe to center stage. The UKIP, the FN, and the DPP all arrived first in their countries’ respective nationwide elections, which is new.

Other parties elsewhere did not come in first but performed unexpectedly (or alarmingly, depending on the party) well this year. For example, although the Golden Dawn only won three seats from Greece, they did so by winning 9.4% of the country’s vote, even as an openly neo-Nazi party. The Swedish Democrats (9.7%, +6.43) and the Alternative For Germany (7%, new) also made a noteworthy entry in the parliament.

Their shared characteristic of all these parties, regardless of platform and country of origin, is that they are populist in some way.

True, under the word “populism,” a lot of different parties are gathered and their ideologies may vary. While most of these parties claim to be very different, we can, nonetheless, put everyone in the same basket for the purposes of this analysis, to understand why the results were so shocking. Their core point in common is that they all claim represent the people against “the elite” and “Brussels” which embodies both “evils”: the EU and the euro.

We could use the following system to classify like-minded populist parties:
Read more

Cameron making louder “Brexit” noises after UKIP win

Will the Conservatives let Britain exit the EU in response to the rise of the UKIP — and make Jean-Claude Juncker the scapegoat?

Our full-scale guest analysis of the European-wide impact of last weekend’s EU populist-dominated elections will be coming tomorrow (update: read it here), but in the meantime, I wanted to highlight one of the probably very related fallouts of the ruling Conservatives finishing third nationwide in the United Kingdom behind the anti-EU “UK Independence Party” (the first non-major party to a nationwide election in more than a century) and the opposition Labour.

There are rumors — already denied, of course — that UK Prime Minister David Cameron is threatening to escalate Britain’s halfhearted attempts to exit the European Union (a move nicknamed the “Brexit”) if the new center-right coalition in the EU parliament goes ahead with plans to make former Luxembourgish Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker President of the powerful European Commission, which has the sole power to propose new European laws and regulations across the Union:

German magazine Der Spiegel says British PM David Cameron warned that the UK could leave the EU if Luxembourg ex-PM Jean-Claude Juncker became president of the European Commission.

It reported Mr Cameron as saying that the appointment could destabilise his government, which may bring forward referendum plans on EU membership.
[…]
The magazine quotes Mr Cameron as telling the German chancellor that “a face from the 1980s cannot solve the problems of the next five years”. A senior government source told the BBC it did not recognise the language about destabilisation and that it is not something the prime minister would have said.

 

Ok, here’s my immediate takeaway: If he actually said that, even if it’s obnoxious and probably a desperate reaction to the UKIP win that threatens to break apart his party base, it might be the first semi-reasonable point he’s ever made on EU criticisms. The president of the European Commission will be responsible over the next five years for driving further internal lawmaking and regulatory integration within the European Union.

jean-claude-junckerThat seems like something that would call for fresh leadership with a new vision, rather than a career European leader. In fact, Jean-Claude Juncker (pictured), who took office in January 1995, was one of the longest-serving democratically elected leaders in history when he stepped down as Prime Minister of Luxembourg in December 2013. He has been around the block and then some. Isn’t it perhaps time to let somebody else try?

On the other hand, his lengthy and popular service within both Luxembourg and the European Union system mean he’s a proven, effective, experienced leader everyone knows. And maybe that wouldn’t be terrible, in terms of producing results. Of course, if your goal isn’t to produce results because you oppose the EU — which is the position of the UKIP and many Conservative Party voters — then someone flashy who doesn’t do much is ideal. Whereas when one is trying to placate euroskeptics, elevating a man who embodies the European Union at its most European Union-y is not the smart play.