Sunday, March 09, 2008

Socialists Win In France, Spain

By Cernig

Remember how French President Sarozy's triumph in last years election was hailed (in the U.S. and by rightwing pundits) as a turning point for the Right in Europe, who would now proudly march forward into a European fatherland of the future?

Not so much.

Spain's socialist majority party have not just increased the size of their majority, but seem to be preferred by big business over their conservative rivals. That's something we've seen elsewhere in Europe and in the UK too - even big corporations prefer some rules and government oversight to temper their opposition's dirty tricks and democratic socialist governments provide that where conservative's don't.
Spain's governing Socialist Party won Sunday's election and may have secured enough extra seats for an absolute majority, exit polls indicated.

With both parties' policies broadly similar for tackling a sharp slowdown in economic growth, financial markets would be likely to welcome a clear outcome as a sign of stability.

An exit poll published by Spanish state television gave Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's party 172-176 seats in the 350-seat lower house, and the conservative opposition Popular Party (PP) 148-152 seats.

Three other polls for private media gave the Socialists between 163 and 178 seats, with the PP on 142-152. In the 2004 elections, which Zapatero won in a last-minute turnaround, the Socialists won 164 seats and the PP 148.

An absolute majority requires 176 seats so if the Socialists manage to keep at the top of the exit poll ranges, Zapatero may not need to court smaller parties to pass laws over the next four years, as he did in the last legislature.

"All the exit polls agree the Socialists have won. It is the leading party in terms of votes and seats," Socialist party organisation secretary Jose Blanco told reporters.
Meanwhile, in France, Sarkozy's party and the playboy president himself have a few problems.
President Nicolas Sarkozy's centre-right UMP party faced big losses after the first round of French local elections on Sunday in a vote that could dent his political standing less than a year after he took office.

An initial projection by the CSA pollsters showed the opposition Socialists and other left wing parties heading for 47.5 percent of the overall vote, with the UMP and other right wing parties heading for just 40 percent.

"These are naturally not good results," said Patrick Devedjian, secretary general of the UMP party.

...Sarkozy, elected triumphantly last May on a pledge to reform the French economy and modernize its institutions, has seen his popularity plunge as worries about the cost of living and disenchantment with his glitzy personal life have grown.

Latest polls have showed his approval ratings as low as 37 percent against highs of more than 65 percent posted in the aftermath of his convincing election victory last May.
Another American rightwing narrative bites the dust. They've been trying to write off the European Left since Thatcher took office at the very least - each time they've been wrong. That they've been so consistently wrong says more about their own antiquated and McCarthyist notion of what socialism or the left comprises nowadays than it says about Europe. A little broadening of horizons and a little less navel-gazing and echo chamber are most definitely in order.

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