Europe veers right

First, the British Labour party lost local council elections across the UK, including in Wales for the first time in almost a century.  Next, Geert Wilders’ conservative party won the EU elections in the Netherlands.  Now, in EU elections across the Continent, conservative and center-right parties have won across the board, giving momentum to a conservative revolution in the heart of Socialism Lite.

Has the Left hit its high-water mark in Europe?

Center-right and right-wing parties are the biggest winners in the elections to the European Parliament, which saw Europe’s left do poorly in most of the 27 member states. Turnout was the lowest since voting began in 1979.

The European Parliament elections mark a victory for center-right and right-wing parties as voters punish the left in a vote marked by a historically low turnout.

The center-right European People’s Party (EPP) held on to its position as the largest grouping in the European Parliament, with provisional results giving them 267, or around 36 percent, of the assembly’s 736 seats. The center-right’s showing was even better than indicated by the EPP’s results, as many euroskeptic members of the European Parliament are moving to other parliamentary groups.

The vote’s biggest loser is the center-left, with the Party of European Socialists (PES) winning just 159 seats, 56 fewer than in the 2004 election. “Tonight is a very difficult evening for Socialists in many nations in Europe,” Martin Schulz, lead candidate for Germany’s Social Democrats and the floor leader for the PES in the European Parliament, said on Sunday evening.

We can hope that Europe, after decades of adopting the watered-down Marxist economics of the Soviet Union despite holding them off in the Cold War, has finally come to its economic senses.  The election of conservative and center-right parties to power in the EU will hopefully result in the dismantling of nanny-state mechanisms, as well as an emphasis on free trade rather than protectionism.  Had it happened during the 2004 elections, we could have coordinated between the US and EU some economic changes to make a freer and more prosperous world.

However, that may read too much into these elections.  Clearly, just as voters did in the US, voters in Europe punished the parties in power when the economic disaster hit.  The low turnout shows that enthusiasm for the Left has definitely abated, but not that a great deal of enthusiasm exists for the Right and center-Right, at least not yet.  Moreover, the kind of reform necessary to turn Europe towards free markets and away from socialism will create economic pain; if the EU Parliament can’t get it done in five years, they may well trigger a lot more enthusiasm for the Left all over again, especially within each country’s own domestic elections.

Ironically, the US and EU will head in opposite directions again, and we’ll see which creates wealth and which destroys it.  Hopefully, American voters will begin to learn the lessons quickly enough to move in Europe’s new direction by the midterms.