06 May, 2012

Elections Are Fun

In France, exit polls are saying that Francois Hollande has comfortably won the presidential election. Nicolas Sarkozy thus becomes only the second incumbent president of France to lose an election. Hollande will almost certainly call an election to the French parliament to secure a socialist majority there.

Before the election, Hollande had suggested that he would seek to renegotiate the European Fiscal Compact, to introduce some kind of programme for growth and make it less about the kind of budget balancing beloved of conservatives. He also proposed some quite draconian tax increases on rich people. It will be interesting to see whether he delivers on any of this or if his election has any impact on the referendum in Ireland on ratifying the Compact.

In Greece, meanwhile, today's general election has seen support for the two hitherto dominant parties collapse. PASOK and New Democracy have been blamed for the country's economic collapse and their vote has fallen to c. 14% and 20% respectively.

PASOK and New Democracy are now too weak to govern together in a grand coalition without support from the smaller parties who have seen their vote surge. The other parties are however a bit of an ideological dogs dinner, united by nothing other than their opposition to further austerity measures in Greece. It may not be possible to form a government with majority support in parliament. Or perhaps if a government is formed, it will repudiate the bail-out programme and set off on a road leading to disorderly default, leaving the Eurozone, capital flight, and a chaotic economic and political future.

EDIT (based on Nicholas Whyte's comment): The Greek electoral system gives a seat bonus to the largest party such that New Democracy and PASOK should be able to form a majority grand coalition after all. So maybe Greece is not going to disappear down the plughole just yet.

In Germany, meanwhile, state elections in Schleswig-Holstein appear to signal the end of the CDU-FDP coalition that had governed there. The FDP (a party of rightwing liberals, in some ways akin to the now vanished Progressive Democrats of Ireland) in particular have seen their support tumble.

The CDU (the Christian Democrat party of Angela Merkel) may still be able to form a government in Schleswig-Holstein, but it may be a grand coalition with the Social Democrats. This suggests that a left-right coalition could be on the cards at a national level after the next election. Angela Merkel herself apparently remains popular in Germany, her tough stance towards the more profligate countries of the European periphery reassuring voters that their bail-out monies are not going to be squandered.

Armenia too is holding parliamentary elections today, but I am not familiar with politics in that country so I must refer you to this BBC News article: Armenia votes in parliamentary elections

And just to be part of all the election fun, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel has announced plans to hold early elections in four months time. Elections are likely to lead to a coalition similar to the hawkish one Netanyahu currently heads. I do not know if Netanyahu is planning to synchronise the elections with any kind of military action against Iran.

From Hunting Monsters


Anonymous said...

The French legislative election is already scheduled (it's also on a five-year term) for 10/17 June.

The leading Greek party gets a whacking bonus of 50 seats out of 300 and on current scores ND and PASOK will have about 160 seats between them, which is enough for a majority.

ian said...

I stand corrected on the Greek election. With France, though, my understanding is that the President can dissolve the Assembly whenever he likes, so I expect Hollande to do it as soon as he takes office rather than having to dick around with a rightwing Assembly for a couple of months.

Oh wait, by a couple of months I actually mean a couple of weeks, so maybe he will wait for the scheduled election after all.

Ira Morse said...

There are many statements about this Euro Zone madness in the internet. Is this really a goodbye for Euro Zone? Some blogger stated that if Greece departs from Euro Zone, United States will take Greece's place. What do you think will happen, if Spain, and other countries, depart from Euro Zone, too?

By: exchange rates comparison

ian said...

Hi Ira, are you a real person or a robot?