The Politics of Politics
A number of stories surfaced last year about the various elections held across the EU. The Netherlands, France and Germany all voted in general elections, with Italy to come in a couple of months.
Actually, for the next fourteen months (or maybe longer, depending on the transition agreement), the UK should also be included in that list given the farcical election that was held in Britain last June.
Around this time last year, there was speculation and indeed concern about the possible rise of Nationalism across the continent and the worry that the whole fabric of the EU or at the very least the move towards a greater “Federalization” could be in jeopardy.
The EU has reached a point where it is “neither fish nor fowl”. It has not yet become the “United States of Europe”, nor is it the loose affiliation of states originally bound together to ward of the threat of conflict.
Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron appear to be the loudest voices and therefore the, most heard. But while two of them are national leaders – with their own electorates and agendas – Europe remains close to instability.
Remember, the EU in its present form is a “young nation”. It has been formed and changed almost by default or self-interest. There is, so far, no sign of a progression that can allow member nations to plan for the future.
There are clear rumblings of discontent from the East, where they are not yet used to democracy and have found that they have almost as little say in the running of the group as they did the Soviet bloc.
The UK was never going to feel part of the enlarged EU as it moved from Common Market to European Community to the conglomerate of unequal’s it is today. The seeds of discontent were obviously sown by Margaret Thatcher and her insistence upon a rebate, but it is interesting to note that Tony Blair in his 1984 election campaign declared that he would lead the UK out of a Europe that was draining UK jobs and opportunities.
What the UK can learn from Europe
The elections in Europe, other than France will all produce a coalition Government.
The aforementioned Tony Blair tried to move the Labour Party to the Centre ground, calling it “New Labour” but the electorate grew tired of a party that ultimately stood for nothing other than its Leaders quest for notoriety and infamy – both of which he achieved very comfortably.
The U.K. has long suffered from the constraints of what has become a two-party state. It is the only country in Europe that still uses the first past the post system of Government. Naturally, one of the hardest things to force a Parliament to do is vote itself out of office, and despite being regularly discussed and often supported by the party in opposition, the Government never supports it and it never appears in any Manifesto.
Successive Parliaments decry the fact of the boom/bust UK economy caused by the left right left right leaning of the party in power. It creates a situation where there must be blanket support for Government policy or opposition manifesto where under the systems used in a lot of European countries minority parties with minority agendas can prevail in Government.
One policy Parties; The Way Forward?
Despite Nigel Farage’s ugly tactics in forcing David Cameron into holding the Brexit referendum, it shows the power a single policy party can have.
The “pity” (if that is the right word) for UKIP is that it’s one policy had a shelf life despite Farage trying to drum up angst over the fate of financial services which the man in the street neither understands or particularly cares about.
If a Farage-like character was to emerge with a similar style railing against privatization, particularly of the transport infrastructure of the U.K. or the NHS, he would most likely be able to win votes from both ends of the political spectrum.
UK voters are, overall, particularly the millennials, growing either disinterested or militant about politics, and a time for change could be approaching.