It was for more reasons than just the great abstentions, which in some regions was as high as 80%, that the result of the European elections was regarded by some imperialist media as a veritable political earthquake.
The victory of the ultra-right of the National Front of Marine Le Pen in France (25% of the votes) and the right-wing populist of the right UKIP, of Nigel Farage in England and in a different sense, the electoral victory of Syriza in Greece that express the growing social polarisation on the continent. And makes it deeper.
A third element must be taken into account together with the above two: the debacle of the all the parties stemming out of Social Democracy , whose general tendency has been to deepen their crisis and except for a few cases, the defeat of most of the ruling parties.
All of them stand for an unquestionable fact: the most general outcome of these election shows, in spite of all the national unevenness and contradiction, a vote against the austerity, against the WU and the euro capitalised by the right, except Greece and the State of Spain as we shall see now.
A vote against the governments
Except Germany and Italy, where the ruling parties were the most voted in these election (we shall see Spain as a separate case because, in spite of the fact that the PP was the most voted party, it fell 42.23% in 2009, losing two million and a half votes) the ruling parties that applied the adjustment plans, whether of the traditional right or of Social Democracy, were thoroughly defeated. It was an obvious vote against the cuts and unemployment that affected more than 26 million workers while the rate among young people in Greece reached 60% and in the Spanish State 55%.
Merkel’s CDU vote in comparison to 2009 grew 30 to 35. 30 and the SPD from 20 to 27 % (There is a coalition of the two parties governing in Germany. In the same sense, Italy (in 2009 the PD had 25. 13% and now 40%). However, taking the votes as a whole in Europe, the parliamentary group of Christian Democrats (EPP – European People’s Party) fell from 35.72% to 28.5%. The ruling parties in Portugal (PSD and CDS) received the same thrashing: PSD and CDS fell from 31.71% in 2009 to 27.7%, however this was capitalised by the Social Democracy that is recovering shifting from 26.53% in 2009 to 31.5%.
The high rate of abstention in the elections not consistent with the large advertising blaring that the 2009 rate remained unchanged. In such countries as Slovakia, abstention reached 87%; in the Czech Republic, 80.5%; Poland, close to 80%. That is to say: in the entire European East suffering the plunder and exploitation of European imperialist countries, particularly by Germany, the rate of abstention was much higher than the global figures the press blew their trumpets about.
In the West, Portugal with 66% abstention and England with 64% express the same phenomenon, with deep differences inside each country. In proletarian regions and neighbourhoods of the great cities, abstention has been higher than that evidencing that broad sectors of the proletariat directly refused to go and vote.
As from there on we are in the zone of the much advertised “political earthquake”. The Greek PASOK plunged from 36.65% in 2009 to 8% and occupied a fourth place. The crisis becomes deeper with balloting dubbed historic in the electoral history of these organizations that used to be the stronghold of the bourgeois democracy and were regarded as Welfare States and are now being destroyed by the battering ram of financial capital.
In this way Nigel Farage’s populist, racist and anti-EU discourse of the UKIP in England achieved a first place, leaving Labour and Tories in the second and third place respectively, something that had never happened since 1910. We must bear in mind that Labourites in England are in opposition. The same thing happens to the PSOE in Spain, for even if now in the opposition, slides down from 38% in 2009 to 23% and loses three million votes and the outcome of the elections leads to the resignation of Secretary General and the summons to an extraordinary Congress. The same crisis is even deeper in France, where the SP obtained the worst ever drove the party to a third position with 14% of the votes.
The parties stemming out of the Social Democracy converted to social-liberals, presented a model of integration that was to put an end to the unevenness on the continent. But it was their governments who imposed the “Maastricht criteria” and adopted the “Lisbon strategy”, kicking off in the ’90s, structural adjustment and the destruction of historic achievements of the working class. The alternating in government with the Christian Democrats that brand-marked most of European post-Second World War is now reaching its end; this is the most relevant fact of these elections.
But this process is not without contradictions; it does not release forces leftwards alone. The growth of the ultra right and of such fascist organisations a Golden Dawning is part of European political reality.
The Ultra-right capitalises social dissatisfaction
Mass media represent the electoral victory of Nigel Farage (UKIP) in England and of Marine Le Pen (National Front) in France as an ultra right earthquake. The deep political meaning of the political meaning of the electoral outcome is not to be found only in the weight acquired by these parties but also in the fact that EU is inconceivable without the agreement between the German and the French imperialisms. And no matter how distorted the electoral outcome may be, there has been a deep rejection of the EU in France capitalized by the National Front [FN].
The National Front Party is better known for its racist and xenophobic positions, the way they blame immigrants for the unemployment and for the dwindling of the value of pensions, caused – according to Le Pen – by the social benefits granted to immigrant workers. But this discourse is nothing but a part of his agitation. In these elections, the NF walked out into the streets to defend something else apart from his habitual racism; the getting out of the euro and the EU was conspicuously present in their programme. We need to recover our national currency and the prerogatives of the Bank of France to energize our exports, our industry and our jobs.
As for the free trade agreement between the EU and the USA, they said, No to the free trade agreement with the USA. We assert that it is but an “ultra-liberal war machine, anti-democratic, anti-economical and anti-social”. And that if it were adopted it would mean that “all the environmental, agricultural and alimentary Standards would be modified so as to benefit the great multinationals.”
That fact is that one out of every four French electors voted for these positions. To put it in other words, they voted for abandoning the euro. According to a journalist, their programme was a nostalgic defence of the old States-nations.
Actually, the nostalgia is for the role the French occupied as head of European imperialism. Since as the boss of Europe, the EU is the tool of French imperialism. Since the EU is an instrument of French imperialism, it is not the former but the latter who dictate the policy of French governments; it is the financial capital together with the German one who dictates the pattern of European structural adjustment; The EU is nothing but a tool for its application in most of the dominated countries.
It so happens that the decadence of France is not merely the outcome of the crisis that began in 2007. The latter simply exacerbates the slide-down of exports, the closure of factories and the increase of unemployment. French financial capital has no way out but to make headway in the reforms, that is, in the attack against the workers and their historical achievements.
Le Pen’s national imperialism denies the EU reasserting French imperialism – at present second in the queue of the EU: that is why it is so deeply reactionary. It expresses the crisis of the small and mid-size entrepreneurs ruined by the crisis and by the free circulation of capitals. In the National Front and its anti-EU discourse, they find an explanation for their downfall and so do the unemployed workers and the small farmers.
The electoral deceit that the election of Hollande represented, doing the opposite to what they had promised, initiating a programme of 50 000 million Euros cuts from the budget just before the municipal elections opened the path for the National Front. Unfortunately, there has been no sector of the left in France that could pose the need of destroying the EU, this tool in the service of European, particularly French capital from the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist standpoint.
Even if they are not the top priority for French financial capital, political processes mark a pace of their own. The accruing social polarisation and Le Pen’s populist discourse opened the electoral path between sectors of the proletariat. Le Pen’s victory does not question the policy of attacks on workers. But the outcome of the elections, as we can see from the debate on President indication for EC [European Commission] will act in the direction of renewing the agenda of the French Social Democracy, as far as the deepening the attacks on the immigrant workers as well as with the intention of pressing on Germany to loosen the tourniquet.
Even if incomparably different from France and England, Germany could not drift clear from the political phenomenon that lashed out against the EU and the euro. Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), a party that surfaces as a split from the CDU months before the 2013 elections in Germany and stand overtly for the split with the EU, achieved 7% of the votes. In Italy, in spite of the victory of the PD, the second position (21.2% of the votes) was for Beppe Grillo, a populist reactionary movement against EU, while the North League – a party that. Due to the crisis of their historic leadership (Bossi) was on the verge of disappearing after last years’ legislative elections – is now recovering. Standing clearly for the getting out of the euro from a position of defence of Italian imperialism (together with a policy against immigrants) achieved 6.16%.
What concerns Greek and European workers most of all is the outcome is the result of two formations that clearly claim to be fascists, Golden Dawn in Greece, with 9.4% votes and three elected representatives and the Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany with 1% votes and one representative in the Parliament. Unlike the parliamentary ultra right, these clearly fascist parties have not yet managed – even if they did try – to use methods of civil war against the proletariat. They reflect a higher degree of social polarisation.
The Reformist left
Unlike France and England, both in Greece and in the Spanish State these election reflected an electoral swerve to the left, where neo-reformism manages to occupy [the space left by] the crisis opened by social liberal parties. In Greece the electoral victory of Syriza, with 25.60% (and 6% for KKE; 0.75% Antarsya) strengthens it as an electoral alternative in the forthcoming general elections. In spite of their programme of restructuring the debt and not have to cope with a split with the recolonisation of Greece, most Greek workers regard this party as an instrument to change their lives.
In the Spanish State, the electoral phenomenon Podemos (7.97%) that managed to become the political expression of 15M and of the Outraged movement, is the most important new event of this election. Podemos hinges on the figure of Pablo Iglesias (political commentator on television and university lecturer) and has achieved five MEPs. Even though many of the elements of their programme stand to the right of United Left, Podemos appears not only as an expression of a social crisis; it also expresses the anger against the parties of the regime, the “you do not represent us” yelled at demonstrations, the erosion of the bourgeois democracy and the bipartisanship something that United Left could hardly express for they govern with the PSOE in Andalusia.
If to the success of Podemos we now add the United Left votes (9.99%) the historic votes for Esquerra Republicana, the most voted party in Catalonia and the BILDU in the Basque Country, these organisations expressed the rejection of the measures of Rajoy and the UE and deepen the crisis of the regime. Among the most important parties of the PIE (from its name in Spanish Partido de Izquierda Europea that brings together the reformist and neo-reformist parties), apart from those mentioned above, in spite of having had an important performance in the elections, they did not manage to capitalise the social anger and polarization.
Die Link, in Germany, achieved 7.40% of the votes; Melechon’s Front de Gauche in France (6.34%); in Italy, the list constituted by SEL (Left and Freedom) and Re-foundation (L’Altra Europa [The Other Europe] – with Tsipras) achieved 4.3%, considerably below the result of the 2009 elections (6% less in absolute terms).
In Portugal, the Left Block [BE] slid down from 10.72% to 4.56% (they lost 250000 votes). In contrast, the increase of PCP from the 10.64% achieved in 2009 to 12.67%, a smaller growth that the loss of votes of BE. The left parties of Front de Gauche in France, NPA (0.3%) and Lutte Ouvrière (1%) took positions far from those in previous elections.
The campaign of the IWL sections
We are very proud of the electoral campaign of the IWL sections that participated in the European elections for the first time. Even if our electoral results were modest, we reasserted the political battle for a programme and the need to build an alternative for the working class. The MAS in Portugal as well as the Red Trend in the Spanish State opened their lists for the activists of the struggles. In Portugal, with the incorporation of comrades of the struggles of transport in the city of Oporto and activists of the call centres and the claim that the euro sinking the country, the claim of the great demonstrations against the Troika on the TV programmes and the defence and the defence of the struggles of workers as the only alternative in this electoral campaign, the MAS obtained 0.38% of the votes (12 440).
Red Trend had 5 000 votes and also opened their list to independent activists incorporated janitorial workers of Madrid who had recently staged a major strike that polarized the city. They also incorporated two miners from Asturias onto the list that was headed by a UPS worker, a symbol of the struggle against the layoffs in Madrid. The more than 7 month-long Catalonian strike of Panrico against cuts in the wages and layoffs was there on the TV programmes.
The instability continues on the continent
Lastly, the four elements that we have been describing throughout this article, combined in different forms and reflecting the crisis and the degree of structural adjustment en each one of the countries, define the outcome of these elections: there is great rate of abstention following the decreasing tendency of vote in European elections and reaches higher levels in the East; the parties of the Christian Democracy (PPE) and the social-liberals (PSE)that govern in most of European countries – with very few exceptions (Germany and Italy) are losing votes. Except for Greece and the Spanish State, Europeist neo-reformism could capitalise only a part of the crisis. The growth of the ultra-right in the central countries, including obviously fascist sectors, this was the central political event. But independently from the way and the weight that the above elements combine, in no case at all the results suggest a forthcoming period of political stability.