Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Are Europeans Getting Ready To Overthrow The Status Quo?


The U.S. isn't the only country in the world where voters are frustrated by a rigged system enforcing the political and economic status quo. While timid and unimaginative Democrats seem to be backing away from Bernie's political revolution and embracing the craven and corrupt centrist their party establishment insists on and while Republicans grapple with the nightmare of Trump's incoherent, ego-driven negativity, voters in other countries are also sniffing around the edges in search of fixing something they know doesn't work for them.

Sunday's presidential election in Austria eliminated the candidtes from the two main centrist parties-- the right-of-center People's Party and the ever so slightly left-of-center Social Democrats-- which have been governing the country in a "Grand Coalition" since 2013, in favor of the far right neo-Nazi Freedom Party and an independent backed by the Green Party. Incomplete counts showed the neo-Nazis way ahead and suggest they will face the Greens in the May runoff:
Norbert Hofer (Freedom Party)- 36%
Alexander Van der Bellen (independent/Greens)- 21%
Imgard Griss (independent)- 18.5%
Rudolph Hundstorter (Social Democrats)- 11%
Andreas Kohl (People's Party)- 11%
Richard Lugner (a wealthy Trump-like clown)- 2%
The BBC somehow came to the conclusion that "the clear victory of the far-right candidate reflects widespread discontent with the status quo, as well as concerns about immigration and the economy." The Guardian was a little more analytic in their reporting on the election results.
Having a president in the Habsburg dynasty’s former palace in Vienna not from either of the two main parties could shake up the traditionally staid and consensus-driven world of Austrian politics.

“This is the beginning of a new political era,” the Freedom party leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, said after what constituted the best result at federal level for the former party of the late Joerg Haider, calling it “historic.”

The Oesterreich tabloid described Hofer’s victory as a “tsunami that has turned our political landscape upside down.”

Hofer is a “a kind, nice, protest politician who wraps the FPOe’s [Freedom party’s] brutal declarations against refugees in soft language.”

[Social Democrat Chancellor Werner] Faymann said on Sunday the result was a “clear warning to the government that we have to work together more strongly”. He said, however, that his party would not make any personnel changes-- including with regard to his own position.

...The rise of fringe politicians has been mirrored across Europe, including in Spain, Britain and Germany, and also in the US with the populist messages of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front, who hopes to become president next year, tweeted her congratulations to the Freedom party for its “magnificent result”. “Bravo to the Austrian people,” she said.

Last year, Austria received 90,000 asylum requests, the second highest in Europe on a per capita basis, and Faymann’s government has taken a firmer line on immigration in recent weeks. But this has not stopped support for the Freedom party surging. Recent opinion polls put the party in first place with more than 30% of voter intentions ahead of the next scheduled general elections in 2018.
You probably recall that the French far right Front National made big gains in February and you probably don't recall that last month Slovakia saw it's racist, anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi party, the People's Party-- Our Slovakia, take it's first-ever seats in Parliament. Led by Marian Kotleba, the governor of central Slovakia, the uniformed rightists campaigned against the Roma (gypsy) minority and against immigrants fleeing wars in the Middle East. (The left-leaning ruling party is also virulently anti-immigrant and socially conservative as well.)

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At 1:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got to work with former Germans who were raised during the Third Reich. Anti-semitism there is like racism here - always just beneath the surface. The influx of Syrian refugees is disturbing their sense of "correctness" (can't think of the word I want right now), and the people of the EU are hard-wired to always seek to restore imbalances. This usually takes the form we are now seeing emerge from the trash of history. There will be blood, and He Who Godwin Doesn't Want Named will rejoice that he still lives in too many European minds.


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