June 2014        

EU election shows up core-periphery divide

We have all heard the superficial analysis presented by the media and so-called political analysts who talk about an anti-establishment vote only in the sense of a vote for opposition parties against existing governments, and about a rise of the “extremes” throughout Europe—essentially equating a vote for the Communist Party of Greece with a vote for UKIP!
      But these analysts dare not delve deeper into the reasons why working people voted in the way they did and into the class politics of the parties they voted for.
      Working people throughout Europe voted against the establishment but voted in very different ways, reflecting the uneven development of capitalism in Europe and the core-periphery divide of the European Union.
      In Ireland, Sinn Féin (part of the progressive GUE/NGL group) received 23 per cent of first-preference votes in the EU elections, capturing a seat in each constituency, including the North. Add to this the progressive and EU-critical candidate Luke (Ming) Flanagan, who has championed the cause of national sovereignty from a rural workers’ standpoint, who topped the poll in Midlands North-West. Equally, the Ballyhea Says No independent Diarmuid O’Flynn did incredibly well in the South, achieving 40,000 first-preference votes and only narrowly missing a seat.
      In Spain the two leading parties, centre-right and social-democratic, saw their vote drastically reduced, with smaller, anti-austerity parties and movements picking up seats in the EU parliament, some of whom are likely to join the GUE/NGL group.
      In Greece the “anti-establishment” vote did not go en masse to the fascist Golden Dawn, which received 9 per cent of the vote and three seats, but went to Syriza, with 26 per cent and six seats, and the Communist Party, with 6 per cent of the vote and two seats. Likewise in Portugal, the patriotic broad-left alliance CDU received 12 per cent of the vote, winning three seats.
      This compares with the 27 per cent (24 seats) received by UKIP in Britain, the 24 seats won by the Front Natonal in France, and the 7 seats won by the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany).
      Clearly, the frustrations and anger of working people in Europe have been captured differently in the periphery and in the core. Those countries most subject to the diktats of the Troika, and whose economies are most subject to the needs of the core, have returned progressive EU-critical candidates, whereas those core countries, such as Germany, France, and Britain, that shape the EU and its direction and who flood the periphery with their surplus capital, distorting their economies, returned narrow-nationalist far-right parties alongside the pro-EU parties.
      This, of course, is nothing new. As Georgi Dimitrov put it, “fascism is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinist and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” Fascism is once again being used by core imperialist countries in Europe to stave off the threat of socialism and the progressive mobilisation of working-class people.
      These recent elections appear not only to confirm the uneven development of capital in Europe and the political reflection of this but also that progress for working people will come from the struggle in the weakest link of imperialism—the peripheral countries—and their peoples’ struggle for national democracy and sovereignty, in opposition to the increased control of corporate Europe and big business.

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