All across Europe, voters have lost faith in traditional parties in direct proportion to the collapse of economic growth. In countries with free-market growth policies — such as the Baltic states — ruling parties actually gained votes in Sunday’s vote. But in Spain, France, Greece, and other countries, the traditional major parties of the Left and Right won less than half the vote. Even in Germany, the large nation most clearly committed to European integration, an openly Euroskeptic party pulled in 7 percent of the vote and will enter the European Parliament for the first time.
The reason for all this ferment is clearly economic dissatisfaction. In France, where growth is zero, two-thirds of voters recently told pollsters for the Financial Times that the economy is worse now than it was a year ago. In Italy, too, most voters said the economy is weaker than it was a year ago. Asked if they felt more secure in their jobs, 58 percent of Italians answered: “No, not at all.” In the five largest European countries, more than half of voters in the FT poll agreed with the statement that their country had “too many immigrants from the EU.”
Sadly, European Union leaders have in the past demonstrated a bullheaded refusal to listen to voters who are skeptical of European centralization. The bureaucrats at the helm ignore referendums that go against the wishes of Brussels, dismiss protests against economic bailouts, and give only lip service to addressing the public’s desire for greater accountability and transparency.
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