Category Archives: Lithuania
Legislative elections were held in Lithuania on October 14 and 28, 2012. All 141 seats in the country’s unicameral legislature, the Seimas, were up for reelection. 70 seats are elected by party-list proportional representation, with a 5% threshold for political parties and a 7% threshold for coalitions. The other 71 seats are elected by two-round FPTP in single-member constituencies. A candidate must win an absolute majority of the vote and with turnout above 40% to be elected; if turnout is under 40%, the candidate who has won the most votes (and the vote of at least 1/5 of those registered), is elected. If these conditions are not met, a second round is held two weeks later. In the first round, only 3 of the 71 single-member seats were filled.
Lithuania’s Prime Minister since 2008 is Andrius Kubilius. Despite the tough economic circumstances, he is the first Lithuanian PM to serve out his full four-year term. Kubilius is the leader of the conservative Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD). As is the case with most Iron Curtain countries, Lithuanian politics since independence in 1990 have been unstable and marked by high turnover in government after each election.
In 1990, the pro-independence centre-right Sąjūdis swept the country in the first free elections, but the economic crisis which ensued led to its defeat only two years later. The post-communist Democratic Labor Party, led by Algirdas Brazauskas, the leader of the local Communists who broke off ties with Moscow in 1989, was swept to power.
While Lithuania’s centre-left is of a very moderate and social democratic flavour, it is quite interesting to note that Lithuania stands out from its Baltic neighbors (Latvia and Estonia) in that reformed communists and the left in general have won elections”- the ethnic Latvian left is inexistent, the left in Estonia is infinitely moderate and rather weak. A number of factors could explain this “oddity”. First and foremost, Lithuania’s Communists, led by Brazauskas, broke with Moscow in 1989, something which no other local Communist Party in the former USSR did. Secondly, Lithuania – unlike Latvia and Estonia – lacks a large Russian minority (it does have a fairly sizable Polish minority, but it is not as politically controversial as the Russians in Latvia and Estonia) and, as a result, has tended towards more liberal citizenship laws (upon independence, all permanent residents were granted citizenship – unlike in the two other nations who ‘restored’ the citizenship of those who had held it prior to 1940) and a less confrontational relationship with Russia.
Algirdas Brazauskas was elected President in 1993. There has been a shift in power from the presidency to the legislature/Prime Minister in Lithuania, today the Lithuanian presidency holds some important powers but it is increasingly a ceremonial position. The first decade after independence was marked by economic turbulence, and voters often took out their anger on the governing party. The left lost power in the 1996 election, with the remnants of the Sąjūdis rebranded as the Homeland Union sweeping to power. Four years later, the governing party collapsed and the Prime Minister – Kubilius – even lost his own seat.
A centre-left coalition including Brazauskas’ party won 31% in the 2000 election, but President Valdas Adamkus nominated Rolandas Paksas, populist leader of a liberal party, to become Prime Minister. The two men had a bitter falling out quickly thereafter, which culminated in Paksas upsetting Adamkus in the runoff of the 2003 presidential election. Paksas was impeached in 2004 after he granted Lithuanian citizenship (and leaked classified information) to a shady Russian businessman who had bankrolled his 2003 presidential campaign.
Algirdas Brazauskas became Prime Minister in 2001, presiding over the merger of the Democratic Labor Party and the Social Democrats (LSDP). He was succeeded in 2006 by Gediminas Kirkilas. The centre-left governing coalition became the first and, to date, only, government to win reelection (kind of) in 2004. Technically, they remained in power following the election. But it was a new party, the undefinable populist Labour Party (DP), led by (another) shady Russian businessman, Viktor Uspaskich. Uspaskich’s DP entered the new ruling coalition as a junior party to the LSDP, but it was kicked out in 2006 as corruption started catching up with Uspaskich, who fled to Russia in 2006 (he failed to declare over 4.3 million euros in both income and spending). He was arrested upon his return in 2007, but released on bail. As an MEP (since 2009), he has parliamentary immunity.
The right returned to power in the 2008 elections, with the TS-LKD winning 45 seats against 25 for the LSDP. But, once again, the election was marked by a new party: the National Resurrection Party, vaguely centrist, led by a popular TV personality, surprised observers by taking 15.1% of the vote (second place) and 16 seats. Order and Justice (TT), a right-wing populist outfit led by impeached president Paksas won 15 seats, while the disgraced DP won only 9% and 10 seats. Kubilius’ cabinet, which has survived its full term, includes two smaller liberal parties.
The Baltics were hit very badly by the 2008 economic crisis. Lithuania’s GDP shrunk by nearly 15% in 2008. Unlike Latvia, Kubilius’ government opted not to call on foreign aid and instead implemented severe austerity policies. His policies were successful, the country now enjoys solid growth rates for a EU-27 member state (6% in 2011, 3% in 2012) and the deficit could drop below the EU’s 3% limit this year. However, unemployment remains very high (13.5%) and Lithuania has the third lowest minimum wage in the EU. Vilnius aims to join the Eurozone in 2014.
In this election, the LSDP promised to increase the minimum wage and replace Lithuania’s 15% flat tax with a progressive income tax. It prioritized cutting the VAT on foodstuff and cutting taxes on small businesses. Uspaskich’s DP, which seems to be trolling as far as I’m concerned, promised to bring unemployment down to 0% in three years and resign if he didn’t.
Turnout was 52.93% in the first round on October 14, up from 48.6% in 2008. Turnout was 35.86% in the second round in the 67 constituencies disputed (3 were already filled, one constituency result from October 14 was declared invalid). Turnout is usually rather low in the second round, but this is apparently up 2% from the second round in 2008. The results were as follows – the popular vote refers to the party-list vote two weeks ago.
LSDP 18.37% (+6.65%) winning 38 seats (+13) [15 PR, 23 FPTP incl. 1 by round one]
TS-LKD 15.08% (-4.64%) winning 33 seats (-12) [13 PR, 20 FPTP incl. 1 by round one]
DP 19.82% (+7.19%) winning 29 seats (+18) [17 PR, 12 FPTP]
TT 7.31% (-5.37%) winning 11 seats (-4) [6 PR, 5 FPTP]
Liberal Movement (LRLS) 8.57% (+2.84%) winning 10 seats (-1) [7 PR, 3 FPTP]
AWPL (Poles) 5.83% (+1.04%) winning 8 seats (+5) [5 PR, 3 FPTP incl. 1 by round one]
Way of Courage 7.99% (+7.99%) winning 7 seats (+7) [7 FPTP]
Peasant and Green (LVŽS) 3.88% (+0.15%) winning 1 seat (-2) [1 FPTP]
LiCS 2.06% (-18.4%) winning 0 seats (-24)
YES 1.76% (+1.76%) winning 0 seats (nc)
Others 5.11% (-3.47%) winning 0 seats (nc)
Independents winning 3 seats (-1) [3 FPTP]
The second round confirmed the first round and the incumbent government was defeated, although not trounced. A semblance of electoral stability is slowly starting to emerge in Lithuania. The incumbent government was unable to cash in on any recovery following the painful recovery. Even if their effect on the country’s economy has been judged positively abroad, many Lithuanian voters resented the deep social cost and pain associated with these policies. The austerity policies included big cuts in spending, pensions and real wages along with higher taxes on consumer goods, consumption and businesses. Voters instead turned to the left – both the moderate LSDP and the populist DP.
The LSDP and DP were strongest in rural areas, where the impact of austerity was likely felt the most. The right still dominated the country’s two main urban areas – Vilnius and Kaunas. The TT was strongest in Samogitia.
The major new party in this election – every Lithuanian election seemingly needs one – was “The Way of Courage”, an anti-corruption party.
The party has an interesting backstory – it is founded by supporters of Drąsius Kedys (who is the brother of one of the party’s founders, judge Neringa Venckiene), a man found dead in 2010 after he went missing following a double homicide case in 2009 in which he was the top suspect. In 2008, Kedys had accused his ex-wife of allowing another man to pay her to sexually molest their underage daughter, but the case was never brought to trial despite Kedys’ very public pleas. In October 2009, a judge and Kedys’ sister-in-law – both accused by Kedys of partaking in the molestation of his daughter – were found dead. Kedys was the main suspect, and he went into hiding following the case (it is not proven if he was the murderer). Kedys was found dead near Kaunas in April 2010, the official account claims it was a natural death (‘choking on vomit’) but many others suspect he was murdered. The accused pedophile/molester was found dead in mysterious circumstances in June 2010.
The case bounced back in May 2012 when a court ordered Kedys’ daughter, who had been living with Venckiene, to be reunited with her mother. The order sparked a major uproar in Lithuania, and led to major protest protesting the decision. Riot police was called in and protesters were arrested. The new party – Way of Courage – claims that the scandal is covering up a pedophile ring in the highest instances of power.
The party’s success speaks to a broader discontent with politics and justice in the country. Political corruption is a major issue in the country, as the cases of Rolandas Paksas and Viktor Uspaskich show. For others, the new party was a way to protest injustice they may feel in society. The party won 8% of the vote and seven seats, it did particularly well around Kaunas (the epicentre of the case) and won nearly 20% of the vote in an area south of Kaunas, which includes Kedys’ hometown of Garliava. The party won 7 seats, all by PR. Its caucus includes Neringa Venckiene, poet and former Soviet dissident Algirdas Patackas and a former foreign minister.
Right after the first round, the LSDP, led by Algirdas Butkevičius, had already come to a de-facto coalition agreement with Uspaskich’s DP and Paksas’ TT. Uspaskich had apparently held out hope for becoming Prime Minister himself, but after the DP’s disappointing performance in the second round, he tempered his demands to four departments: economy, transport, agriculture and culture. The results of the second round confirmed that a centre-left coalition led by Butkevičius and the LSDP with the participation of the DP and TT would hold an absolute majority (78 seats).
However, right after the election came a major bombshell: President Dalia Grybauskaitė, who appoints the Prime Minister, announced that she would reject any coalition with the DP. Right after the first round, details of a major vote buying scandal involving, primarily, the DP was leaked. This adds to the pending case against the party itself and three top leaders who are accused of fraud and false documentation. Grybauskaitė, the country’s very popular and strong-willed president, argues that a party which is mired so deep in corruption is unfit for government, and most voters likely support her position. Grybauskaitė nonetheless stated that she would advise the LSDP’s leader to form the government, and Butkevičius has the power to defy her and form a government with the DP regardless, but this seems unlikely.
The President’s decision creates some uncertainty for the time being about the composition of the next government. Originally presumed to be a fait accompli, it seems as if the three-party left-wing cabinet with the DP is unlikely to be formed and parties are back to step one. Some say that Butkevičius will form a coalition with DP, but he will exclude Uspaskich and the party’s other controversial members. The other options, excluding the DP, appear unlikely and also unappealing to any of the actors involved. There is the option of a “rainbow coalition” including Kubilius’ ruling TS-LKD and the liberals – but Kubilius does not seem very interested. The other option is a coalition including every party except the DP and the TS-LKD; including the liberals, the AWPL and Way of Courage; but that is unlikely to work out if the liberals are dead-set on staying in opposition with the TS-LKD.
Nevertheless, Butkevičius remains the favourite to be the country’s next Prime Minister. His party has some fairly ambitious promises – progressive income tax, higher wages and so forth – but in large part he will need to stick with Kubilius’ macroeconomic policies. Hence, it appears as if most analysts think that Butkevičius will be in good part unable to usher in any major divergences from the outgoing government’s economic policies. The president has made it clear that the new government should follow these policies, albeit she would like more emphasis on jobs and wages as the economy improves.
A referendum on nuclear power was held alongside the first round of voting on October 14. The old Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant was shut down in 2009, judged to be unsafe. The government developed plans to build a new nuclear power plant in Visaginas by 2020-2022 with funding from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Japanese company Hitachi. Voters rejected the plan with 64.77% against. This was only an advisory referendum, the government will not be bound by it – but it will be tough to go ahead with the plan if the voters didn’t back it. This map shows the results of the referendum down to the district level. The area most directly concerned by the issue - Visaginas – was the only district in the whole country to vote in favour (with no less than 65%), it failed by huge margins in basically every other district in the country.
Here is the first post in a series of posts concerning the various Euro results from June 7. The results for the major parties winning seats (or not, in a few cases) are presented here, along with a very brief statistical analysis of what happened. If applicable, a map of the results is also presented. Again, except for the Germany map, all of these maps are my creations.
ÖVP 30% (-2.7%) winning 6 seats (nc)
SPÖ 23.8% (-9.5%) winning 4 seats (-3)
HP Martin’s List 17.7% (+3.7%) winning 3 seats (+1)
FPÖ 12.8% (+6.5%) winning 2 seats (+1)
Greens 9.7% (-3.2%) winning 2 seats (nc)
As I expected, the junior partner in government, the centre-right ÖVP came out on top but the most surprising was the ÖVP’s decisive margin of victory over its senior partner, the social democratic SPÖ. In fact, the SPÖ, like the German SPD, has won its worst result since 1945. This is probably due to a poor campaign a poor top candidate – Hannes Swoboda. Swoboda ranted against job losses and outsourcing when he himself did the same thing to his employees at Siemens. The good result came from Hans-Peter Martin’s anti-corruption outfit, which got a third seat and increased it’s vote. While improving on its poor 2004 result, the far-right FPÖ is far from the 17.5% it won in the 2008 federal elections. A lot is due to abstention (anti-Euro voters being a large contingent of the abstentionists) and also Martin’s success. The Greenies have unsurprisingly fallen, though they held their second seat due to late (and still incoming) postal votes. The BZÖ of the late Jorg Haider fell just short of the threshold, and it did not win Haider’s Carinthian stronghold. Turnout was 45.3%, slightly up on 2004.
GERB 24.36% (+2.68%) winning 5 seats (nc)
BSP 18.5% (-2.91%) winning 4 seats (-1)
DPS 14.14% (-6.12%) winning 3 seats (-1)
Attack 11.96% (-2.24%) winning 2 seats (-1)
NDSV 7.96% (+1.89%) winning 2 seats (+1)
Blue Coalition (UDF and DSB) 7.95% (-1.14%) winning 1 seat (+1)
The pro-European centre-right GERB won, as in 2007, defeating the Socialists (BSP, officialy grouped with smaller parties in the ‘Coalition for Bulgaria’). The Turkish minority party DPS fell significantly compared to its surprisingly excellent 2007 result. This is due to higher turnout and to competition (by Lider) in the very active vote buying market in Bulgaria. The liberal NDSV led by former Bulgarian monarch Simeon II came back from the dead to win 2 seats and increase its vote share – all this due to a top candidate who had a high personal profile and popularity in an election where person and popularity are very important.
Democratic Rally 35.7% (+7.5%) winning 2 seats
AKEL 34.9% (+7%) winning 2 seats
Democratic Party 12.3% (-4.8%) winning 1 seat
Movement for Social Democracy 9.9% (-0.9%) winning 1 seat (+1)
European Party 4.1% (-6.7%) winning 0 seats (-1)
To my surprise, the opposition centre-right (albeit pro-reunification) DISY defeated the governing communist AKEL. However, both parties increased their share of the vote compared to 2004, mainly on the back of the centrist anti-reunification DIKO and the Social Democrats (who won a seat due to the collapse of the liberal European Party).
Civic Democrats (ODS) 31.45% (+1.41%) winning 9 seats (±0)
Social Democrats (ČSSD) 22.38% (+13.6%) winning 7 seats (+5)
Communist Party (KSČM) 14.18% (-6.08%) winning 4 seats (-2)
KDU-ČSL 7.64% (-1.93%) winning 2 seats (±0)
Of the shocking results of the night, the Czech result was a shocker to me. I had predicted the Social Democrats to win all along (most polls agreed, albeit very late polls showed a narrow ODS lead), and you have this very large ODS victory that really comes out of the blue. This is really quite a piss poor result for the ČSSD and its controversial and, in my opinion, poor, leader, Jiří Paroubek. I wasn’t surprised by the results of either the Communists (on a tangent, the KSČM is the only formerly ruling communist party which hasn’t changed it name and it remains very much stuck in 1950) or the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL). The KSČM’s loses were predictable because 2004 was an especially fertile year for them (the ČSSD was in government, a very unpopular government). Two small parties which won seats in 2004 – the centre-right SNK European Democrats (11.02% and 2 seats) and the far-right populist Independents (8.18% and 2 seats) suffered a very painful death this year. The SNK polled 1.66%, the Independents (most of which were Libertas candidates) won 0.54%. The Greens, a parliamentary party, won a very deceiving result – 2.06%. This is probably due to turnout, which remained at 28%.
Social Democrats 21.49 % (-11.1%) winning 4 seats (-1)
Venstre 20.24% (+0.9%) winning 3 seats (nc)
Socialist People’s Party 15.87% (+7.9%) winning 2 seats (+1)
Danish People’s Party 15.28% (+8.5%) winning 2 seats (+1)
Conservative People’s Party 12.69% (+1.3%) winning 1 seat (nc)
People’s Movement Against the EU 7.20% (+2.0%) winning 1 seat (nc)
Social Liberal Party 4.27% (-2.1%) winning 0 seats (-1)
June Movement 2.37% (-6.7%) winning 0 seats (-1)
Liberal Alliance 0.59%
Red: SD, Blue: Venstre, Purple: SF, Green: DF
No real surprise in the Danish results, which were as I expected them to be. The Social Democrats drop compared to their superb 2004 showing was to be expected, obviously. Obviously, these loses were profitable not to the government (Venstre, Liberals) but to the Socialists (SF) and the far-right (DF). SF and DF have won their best result in any Danish election, either European or legislative. The June Movement, the second anti-EU movement which is in decline since it’s shock 16% in 1999, has lost its sole remaining MEP. The older (and leftier) People’s Movement has picked up some of the June Movement’s vote, though its results are far from excellent. Despite an electoral alliance with the Social Democrats, the Social Liberals (Radikal Venstre) lost its MEP.
Centre 26.1% winning 2 seats (+1)
Indrek Tarand (Ind) 25.8% winning 1 seat (+1)
Reform 15.3% winning 1 seat (±0)
Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica 12.2% winning 1 seat (±0)
Social Democrats 8.7% winning 1 seat (-2)
Estonian Greens 2.7%
Turnout was up 17% in Estonia over 2004, reaching 44% (26.8% in 2004), correcting the weird result of 2004 which saw the normally weak Social Democrats come out on top. However, the surprising result here was Reform’s rout (compared to the 2007 general elections) at the profit of Indrek Tarand, a popular independent. The opposition Centre Party, however, came out on top. However, the map clearly shows that Tarand took votes from all places – Centre, Reform, right, Greenies (winning a very deceiving 2.7%), and Social Democrats. The Centre came out on top purely due to the Russian vote in Ida-Viru and in Tallinn, the capital (despite the name, the Centre performs very well in urban areas – it’s not at all a rural centrist party a la Finland).
National Coalition 23.2% (-0.5%) winning 3 seats (-1)
Centre 19% (-4.4%) winning 3 seats (-1)
Social Democratic Party 17.5% (-3.7%) winning 2 seats (-1)
Greens 12.4% (+2%) winning 2 seats (+1)
True Finns 9.8% (+9.3%) winning 1 seat (+1)
Swedish People’s Party 6.1% (+0.4%) winning 1 seat (nc)
Left Alliance 5.9% (-3.2%) winning 0 seats (-1)
Christian Democrats 4.2% (-0.1%) winning 1 seat (+1)
No surprises from Finland, which came out roughly as expected. The junior partner in government, the centre-right National Coalition (Kok) defeated its senior partner, the agrarian liberal Centre Party. However, the Finnish left (SDP and Left) suffered a very cold shower, winning its worst result in years. The Left even lost its sole MEP. A lot of that left-wing vote probably went to the Greenies (who won a very good result) and also the anti-immigration True Finns (in coalition with the Christian Democrats, which allowed the Christiandems to get one MEP). The Swedish People’s Party ended up holding its seat. The map is quite typical of Finnish elections, with the agrarian Centre dominating in the sparsely populated north and the National Coalition dominating in middle-class urban (Helsinki, where they narrowly beat out the Greenies for first) and suburban areas. The Swedish vote is concentrated on the Åland islands (over 80% of the vote for them) but also in small fishing communities on the west coast of Finland (which does not show up on the map).
CDU/CSU 30.7% + 7.2% (-6.6%) winning 42 seats (-7)
SPD 20.8% (-0.7%) winning 23 seats (nc)
Greens 12.1% (+0.2%) winning 14 seats (+1)
Free Democrats 11% (+4.9%) winning 12 seats (+5)
The Left 7.6% (+1.5%) winning 8 seats (+1)
In the EU’s most populated country, the Social Democrats took a major hit by failing to gain anything after the SPD’s horrible (worst since 1945) result in 2004. Overall, the Christian Democrats (CDU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel and its Bavarian sister, the CSU, won as in 2004 but their vote also took a hit (the CDU/CSU was a popular opposition party then, they’re the senior government party now). The winners were of course the Greens, who held on to their remarkable 2004 result and in fact gained a 14th MEP, but certainly the right-liberal Free Democrats (FDP). The Left also gained slightly compared to 2004. The Left’s map remains largely a map of the old DDR but, for the first time, you have darker shades appearing in the West – specifically in the industrial regions of the Saar, the Ruhr and Bremen city. In the end the CSU had no problems with the 5% threshold and they won a relatively decent (compared to most recent results, not 2004 or 2006) result – 48% – in Bavaria. Frei Wahler took 6.7% in Bavaria, and 1.7% federally.
PASOK 36.64% (+2.61%) winning 8 seats (nc)
New Democracy 32.29% (-10.72%) winning 8 seats (-3)
Communist Party 8.35% (-1.13%) winning 2 seats (-1)
Popular Orthodox Rally 7.14% (+3.02%) winning 2 seats (+1)
Coalition of the Radical Left 4.7% (+0.54%) winning 1 seat (nc)
Ecologist Greens 3.49% (+2.88%) winning 1 seat (+1)
Pan-Hellenic Macedonian Front 1.27%
No Greek surprise overall, though the Greenies’ poor result could be one. As expected, the opposition ‘socialist’ PASOK defeated the governing unpopular and corrupt right-wing New Democracy. However, there remains no great love for PASOK, partly due to the fact that both ND and PASOK are very similar. The Communist Party (KKE), one of Europe’s most communist communist parties (it still lives in 1951, decrying bourgeois and capitalists), won 8.35%, slightly above its 2007 electoral result but below the KKE’s excellent 2004 result (over 9%). The surprise came from LAOS and the Greens. The Greenies, who were polling 8-11% in the last polls, fell to a mere 3% partly due to a controversial video by the Green Party leader who said that Macedonia (FYROM, the country) should be allowed to keep its name (s0mething which does not go down well in Greece). Most of the Green strength in polls came from disenchanted ND supporters who ended up voting LAOS (the ultra-Orthodox kooks). The Radical Left (SYRIZA) won a rather poor result, probably due to the fact that it is seen as responsible for the violence and lootings during the 2008 riots in Athens.
Fidesz 56.36% winning 14 seats (+2)
Socialist 17.37% winning 4 seats (-5)
Jobbik 14.77% winning 3 seats (+3)
Hungarian Democratic Forum 5.31% winning 1 seat (nc)
The surprise in Hungary came from the spectacular result of the far-right quasi-Nazi Jobbik (which has its own private militia), which did much better than any poll or exit poll had predicted. Jobbik’s results significantly weakened the conservative Fidesz which won “only” 56% (down from 65-70% in some polls). The governing Socialist MSZP took a spectacular thumping, as was widely expected. While the right-wing MDF held its seat, the liberal SZDSZ (f0rmer coalition partner in the MSZP-led government until 2008) lost both of its seats.
Fine Gael 29.1% (+1.3%) winning 4 seats (-1)
Fianna Fáil 24.1% (-5.4%) winning 3 seats (-1)
Labour 13.9% (+3.4%) winning 3 seats (+2)
Sinn Féin 11.2% (+0.1%) winning 0 seats (-1)
Libertas 3.1% (new) winning 0 seats (new)
Socialist 1.5% (+0.2%) winning 1 seat (+1)
Green Party 1.1% (-3.2%)
As expected, Fine Gael came out on top of FPVs in Ireland, inflicting a major defeat on the governing Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil, did not, however, slip to third behind Labour as some pollsters made it seem. This is due in a large part due to Labour’s complete lack of organization in most rural areas. In Dublin, both Fine Gael and Labour incumbents made it through without much sweat. The race, as expected, was for the third seat between the Fianna Fáil incumbent (Eoin Ryan), Socialist leader Joe Higgins and the Sinn Féin incumbent (Mary Lou McDonald). Surprisingly, Sinn Féin was the first out leaving the final seat between Ryan and Higgins. In the end, Higgins got the quasi-entirety of McDonald’s transferable votes and defeated Ryan with 82,366 votes against 76,956 votes for Ryan on the 7th count. Former Greenie (against the party’s participation in government) Patricia McKenna won 4.3% on first preferences against 4.7% against the official Greenie (however, further transfers from joke candidates got McKenna all the way to count 5, while the Greenie got out by count 3). In the East, Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness got elected on the first count, quite the feat indeed. However, no luck for Fine Gael’s second candidate in holding the third seat held by a retiring Fine Gael incumbent. Labour’s Nessa Childers, second on first prefs, far outpolled John Paul Phelan (FG’s second candidate) and got the second seat. Fianna Fáil held its seat. In the North-West, all incumbents (1 Independent ALDE, 1 FF, 1 FG) held their seats with Marian Harkin (Ind-ALDE) topping the poll (however, both Fianna Fáil candidates combined outpolled him and Fine Gael’s MEP). The founder and leader of Libertas, Declan Ganley polled a respectable 13.66% on FPVs and held out till the last count but lost out to Fine Gael due to rather poor transfers from the other anti-Lisbon outfit, SF. In the South, FF incumbent Brian Crowley topped the poll and won easily, as did Sean Kelly (FG). The third seat was between the incumbent Independent (eurosceptic and social conservative) Kathy Sinnott and Labour’s Alan Kelly. Kelly won.
In the local elections, the final seat share is as follows:
Fine Gael 340 seats (+47)
Fianna Fáil 218 seats (-84)
Labour 132 seats (+31)
Others and Indies 132 seats (+40)
Sinn Féin 54 seats (nc)
Socialist 4 seats (nc)
Green Party 3 seats (-15)
People of Freedom 35.26% winning 29 seats
Democratic Party 26.13% winning 21 seats
Lega Nord 10.20% winning 9 seats
Italy of Values 8.00% winning 7 seats
Union of the Centre 6.51% winning 5 seats
Communists (PRC+PdCI) 3.38% winning 0 seats
Sinistra e Libertà 3.12% winning 0 seats
Italian Radicals (Bonino-Pannella List) 2.42% winning 0 seats
Pole of Autonomy (La Destra+MPA) 2.22% winning 0 seats
South Tyrolean’s People Party 0.46% winning 1 seat
Berlusconi Coalition (PdL+LN+Autonomy) 47.68% winning 38 seats
PD Coalition (PD-SVP+IdV+Radicals) 37.01% winning 29 seats
Red: PD, Blue: PdL, Green: Lega Nord, Yellow in Aosta Valley: Valdotanian Union (PdL ally), Yellow in Sudtirol: SVP (PD ally)
The Italian results were certainly a setback for Silvio Berlusconi and his “party”, the PdL, which performed a bit lower than what he and polls had expected (38-41% range). The centre-left PD did relatively well, and this will atleast keep the party from splitting up into the old Democrats of the Left and the Daisy. In terms of coalitions, the two large parliamentary blocs stand almost exactly where they stood overall in 2008, with a very very slight improvement for Berlusconi’s coalition. The marking result of this election is probably that of Lega Nord, which has won its best result in any national Italian election (narrowly beating its previous record, 10.1% in the 1996 general election). The Lega has expanded its support to the “south” (north-central Italy), notably polling 11% in Emilia-Romagna and 4% in Tuscany. The support and future of Lega Nord is to be watched closely in the future, due to a potential new electoral law which could significantly hinder it’s parliamentary representation (more on that later). The other good result is from Antonio di Pietro’s strongly anti-Berlusconi and anti-corruption populist Italia dei Valori, which has won its best result ever, by far. It has almost doubled its support since last year’s general election. After being shutout of Parliament in 2008, the Communists and other leftie parties (Socialists and Greens) are now out of the European Parliament, depsite improving quite a bit on the Rainbow’s 2008 result. Of the two coalitions, the old Communist one made up of the Refoundation Commies and the smaller Italian Commies polled slightly better than the Sinistra e libertà, the “New Left” coalition (Greenies, Socialists, moderate “liberal” Commies). Such was to be expected, but the irony is that both leftie coalitions were formed to surpass the new 4% threshold, and none did. However, if there had been a new Rainbow coalition (the 2008 Rainbow included both the hardline Commies and the New Left), they would have made it. As expected, those small parties which won seats in 2004 due to the old electoral law have been eliminated. These include the fascists, La Destra-Sicilian autonomists/crooks, and the Radicals. The South Tyrolean SVP only held its seat due to an electoral clause which allows these “minority parties” to ally with a party to win a seat. The SVP was the only one of these which was successful in doing so. Two smaller Valdotanian parties (one allied with PdL, the other with IdV) failed to win a seat. In provincial elections held the same days, the right was very successful and of the forty provinces decided by the first round, they had won 26 against 14 for the left. 22 provinces will have a runoff. I might do a post on that if I have time.
Civic Union 24.33% winning 2 seats (+2)
Harmony Centre 19.57% winning 2 seats (+2)
PCTVL – For Human Rights in United Latvia 9.66% winning 1 seat (nc)
Latvia’s First Party/Latvia’s Way 7.5% winning 1 seat (nc)
For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK 7.45% winning 1 seat (-3)
New Era 6.66% winning 1 seat (-1)
Latvian politics are very confusing, mostly due to the huge swings. This time was no different. A new party, Civic Union (probably EPP) topped the poll over the Harmony Centre, a Russian minority outfit. The PCTVL, another Russian outfit, fell slightly compared to its 11% result in 2004, but remained remarkably stable. TB/LNNK, a UEN party which topped the poll in 2004 fell down three seats. The conservative New Era, senior party in the governing coalition, won only 7% (a lot of its members, along with TB/LNNK members apparently joined the Civic Union). The People’s Party, the senior party in the old coalition which fell apart this year due to the economic crisis won barely 2%. The Union of Greens and Farmers, which won something like 16% in the 2006 election polled a mere 3.7%.
Homeland Union-LKD 26.16% winning 4 seats (+2)
Lithuanian Social Democrats 18.12% winning 3 seats (+1)
Order and Justice 11.9% winning 2 seats (+1)
Labour Party 8.56% winning 1 seat (-4)
Poles’ Electoral Action 8.21% winning 1 seat (+1)
Liberals Movement 7.17% winning 1 seat (+1)
Liberal and Centre Union 3.38% winning 0 seats (-1)
Remarkable stability for a Baltic nation in Lithuania. The winner of the 2008 election, the Homeland Union (TS-LKD) won a rather convincing victory, improving on its 2008 result (only 19.6%) and obviously on its 2004 Euro result (12.6%). The LSDP has picked up an extra seat and has cemented its place as the opposition to the TS-LKD, along with the third-placed populist Order and Justice. Labour, the centrist party which won the 2004 Euro election has seen its seat share cut down from 5 to one, a logical follow-up to its collapse in 2008. The Poles have probably benefited from low turnout (21%) to motivate their base and won an outstanding 8.2% and elected one MEP. I don’t really follow Baltic politics, but if I remember correctly, a government rarely wins re-election, so if that’s true, the result of the TS-LKD is even more remarkable.
Christian Social Party 31.3% (-5.8%) winning 3 seats
Socialist 19.5% (-2.5%) winning 1 seat
Democratic Party 18.6% (+3.7%) winning 1 seat
The Greens 16.8% (+1.8%) winning 1 seat
Alternative Democratic Reform 7.4% (-0.6%)
The Left 3.4% (+1.7%)
Communist Party 1.5% (+0.3%)
Citizens’ List 1.4%
Remarkable and unsurprising political stability in Luxembourg, with no changes in seat distribution. While the CSV and LSAP suffer minor swings against them, the DP and Greens get small positive swings. The Greens’ result is their best ever and one of the best Green results in European elections.
On election night last week, I also covered the simultaneous general election. Here are, again, the full results.
CSV 38% (+1.9%) winning 26 seats (+2)
LSAP 21.6% (-1.8%) winning 13 seats (-1)
DP 15% (-1.1%) winning 9 seats (-1)
Greens 11.7% (+0.1%) winning 7 seats (nc)
ADR 8.1% (-1.8%) winning 4 seats (-1)
Left 3.3% (+1.4%) winning 1 seat (+1)
KPL 1.5% (+0.6%)
Labour 54.77% winning 3 seats (nc)
Nationalist 40.49% winning 2 seats (nc)
Obviously no surprise in tiny Malta, where the opposition Labour Party has defeated the governing Nationalist Party. Both sides made gains in terms of votes, feeding off the collapse of the green Democratic Alternative (AD), which won a remarkable 10% in 2004 but a mere 2.3% this year.
Civic Platform 44.43% (+20.33%) winning 25 seats (+10)
Law and Justice 27.4% (+14.73%) winning 15 seats (+8)
Democratic Left Alliance-Labour Union 12.34% (+2.99%) winning 7 seats (+2)
Peasant Party 7.07% (+0.67%) winning 3 seats (-1)
Map by electoral constituency. Key same as above table
Polish politics move quickly, but it seems that this ‘setup’ is here to stay, atleast for some time. The governing right-liberal pro-European Civic Platform (led by PM Donald Tusk) has won a crushing victory over the national-conservative eurosceptic Law and Justice of President Lech Kaczyński. PO’s margin of victory is slightly larger than its already important victory in the 2008 elections. The SLD-UP electoral alliance, which is what remains of the Left and Democrats (LiD) coalition of the 2008 election (encompassing SLD-UP but also a small fake liberal party), won 12%, the average result of the Polish left these days. The Peasant Party, PO’s junior partner in government, won slightly fewer votes than in 2008 (or the 2004 Eur0s). The 2004 Euros, marked by the excellent result of the ultra-conservative League of Polish Families (LPR, now Libertas) and the left-wing populist Samoobrona saw both of these parties collapse. Libertas-LPR won 1.14% and Samoobrona won 1.46%. Smaller ultra-conservative jokes also did very poorly. After the 2004-2006 episode, sanity seems to have returned to Polish politics.
Social Democratic Party 31.7% winning 8 seats (+1)
Socialist Party 26.6% winning 7 seats (-5)
Left Bloc 10.7% winning 3 seats (+2)
CDU: Communist Party-Greens 10.7% winning 2 seats (nc)
Democratic and Social Centre-People’s Party 8.4% winning 2 seats (nc)
Blue: PSD, Red: PS, Green: CDU (PCP-PEV)
Cold shower for the governing Portuguese Socialists after the huge victory of the 2004 Euros. The centre-right PSD has won a major victory by defeating the PS, albeit a relatively small margin between the two. The lost votes of the PS flowed to the Left Bloc (the Trotskyst and more libertarian component of the far-left) and the CDU (the older and more old-style communist component of the far-left), both of which won a remarkable 21.4% together. These voters voted BE or CDU due to the PS’ economic policies, which are far from traditional left-wing economic policies. The PS will need to fight hard, very hard, to win the upcoming general elections in September.
Social Democratic Party+Conservative Party 31.07% winning 11 seats (+1)
Democratic Liberal Party 29.71% winning 10 seats (-6)
National Liberal Party 14.52% winning 5 seats (-1)
UDMR 8.92% winning 3 seats (+1)
Greater Romania Party 8.65% winning 3 seats (+3)
Elena Băsescu (Ind PD-L) 4.22% winning 1 seat (+1)
The close race in Romania between the two government parties ended in the victory of the junior partner, the PSD with a rather mediocre 31%. The PDL’s 30% was also rather mediocre. The PNL also did quite poorly. The two winners are the Hungarian UDMR, which won a rather remarkable 9%, probably benefiting from high Hungarian turnout in a very low turnout election. The far-right Greater Romania Party overcame past setbacks and won three seats and a surprisingly good 8.7%. This is due in part to the participation of the far-right quasi-fascist PNG-CD on its list (the party’s leader, the very controversial Gigi Becali, was the party’s second candidate on the list). László Tőkés, an Hungarian independent elected in 2007 (sat in the Green-EFA group) has been re-elected as the top candidate on the UDMR list.
Smer-SD 32.01% winning 5 seats (+2)
Slovak Democratic and Christian Union–Democratic Party (SDKÚ-DS) 16.98% winning 2 seats (-1)
Party of the Hungarian Coalition 11.33% winning 2 seats (±0)
Christian Democratic Movement 10.87% winning 2 seats (-1)
People’s Party–Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (ĽS-HZDS) 8.97% winning 1 seat (-2)
Slovak National Party 5.55% winning 1 seat (+1)
Smer’s result is definitely deceiving for them and possibly a sign that their past stellar poll ratings will slide to the benefit of the opposition SDKÚ-DS. However, the SDKÚ-DS (but also the KDH and obviously the ĽS-HZDS) have slid back compared to their 2004 Euro results. While the collapse of the ĽS-HZDS (formerly led by former quasi-dictator Vladimír Mečiar) is good news, the entry of the quasi-fascist Slovak National Party, Smer’s charming coalition partners, is not. However, the SNS’ 5.6% is not the 10% it used to poll and hopefully they stay low.
Slovenian Democratic Party 26.89% winning 2 seats (nc)
Social Democrats 18.48% winning 2 seats (+1)
New Slovenia 16.34% winning 1 seat (-1)
Liberal Democracy 11.52% winning 1 seat (-1)
Zares 9.81% winning 1 seat (+1)
In Slovenia, the oppostion centre-right SDS has defeated the ruling Social Democrats. Here again, the current political setup between SDS on the right and SD on the left, a rather new setup, seems set to stay for a few years. The NSi, which won the 2004 election, and the LDS, which used to dominate Slovenian politics, have both slumped back. The new liberal Zares won 9.8%, roughly its level in the 2008 election.
People’s Party42.23% (+1.02%) winning 23 seats (-1)
Socialist 38.51% (-4.95%) winning 21 seats (-4)
Coalition for Europe (EAJ-CiU-CC) 5.12% (-0.03%) winning 2 seats [1 EAJ, 1 CiU] (±0)
The Left 3.73% (-0.38%) winning 2 seats (±0)
Union, Progress and Democracy 2.87% winning 1 seat (+1)
Europe of Peoples 2.5% (+0.05%) winning 1 seat (±0)
As expected, the conservative PP defeated the governing PSOE, but due to the polarized nature of Spanish politics, no landslide here. However, the PSOE definitely polled poorly, though the PP didn’t do that great either. The regionalists held their ground well, and CiU got some little gains going in Catalonia. Aside from UPyD’s narrow entry and the obvious PP gains, it was generally status-quo.
Social Democrats 24.41% (-0.15%) winning 5 seats (nc)
Moderate Party 18.83% (+0.58%) winning 4 seats (nc)
Liberal People’s Party 13.58% (+3.72%) winning 3 seats (+1)
Greens 11.02% (+5.06%) winning 2 seats (+1)
Pirate Party 7.13% (new) winning 1 seat (+1)
Left 5.66% (-7.14%) winning 1 seat (-1)
Centre 5.47% (-0.79%) winning 1 seat (nc)
Christian Democrats 4.68% (-1.01%) winning 1 seat (nc)
June List 3.55% (-10.92%) winning 0 seats (-3)
Sweden Democrats 3.27% (+2.14%)
Feminist Initiative 2.22%
First map: Parties (SD in red, M in blue) – Second Map: Coalitions (Red-Green in red, Alliance in blue)
The Swedish results must come as a major deception for both major parties, the Social Democrats and the governing Moderates. Both had done horribly in 2004 and the 2009 results are no improvements for either of them. In fact, the opposition SD has in fact dropped a few votes more from the 2004 disaster. These loses profit to the smaller parties in their respective coalitions (Red-Green for the SD, Alliance for M). The Liberals did very well, unexpectedly well in fact, and elected a third MEP. The Greens drew votes from Red-Green voters dissatisfied by the unpopular SD leader, Mona Sahlin, and its vote share increased by 5%. Of course, Sweden is now famous for electing one Pirate MEP, and even a second MEP if Sweden gets additional MEPs as planned by the Treaty of Lisbon. The Left’s vote fell significantly from its good showing in 2004, while the vote for smaller coalition parties – the Centre and Christian Democrats also slid a bit. The eurosceptic June List, which had won 14% in 2004, fell to a mere 3.6% and lost its 3 MEPs. However, this result might have prevented the far-right Sweden Democrats from picking up a seat. The Feminists, who had one MEP after a Liberal defection, won a surprisingly decent 2%, far better than what polls had in store for them. In terms of coalitions, the governing Alliance actually won with 42.56% against 41.09% for the opposition Red-Greens.
Longer, special posts concerning the Euro elections in Belgium, France and the UK will be posted in the coming days.
Lithuania elected its relatively ceremonial President yesterday in an election which was never really disputed. European Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaitė, an independent, was easily elected to the Presidency by the first round with over 69% of the votes. Turnout was only 51.71%
Dalia Grybauskaitė (Ind) 69.08%
Algirdas Butkevičius (Social Democrat) 11.83%
Valentinas Mazuronis (Order and Justice) 6.16%
Waldemar Tomaszewski (Polish) 4.74%
Kazimira Prunskienė (Peasant Popular Union) 3.91%
Loreta Graužinienė (Labour) 3.61%
Česlovas Jezerskas (Ind) 0.6%
Grybauskaitė’s role is ceremonial, but she was popular due to her status as an “outsider” in the local political scene in the country, which has seen a number of corruption scandals.