Friday, May 30, 2014

Like squeegee-men at a Bronx intersection, EU leaders simply won’t take no for an answer

Enthusiastic supporters of the European Union (EU) are crying in their beers
chuckles Benny Huang,
after faring poorly in the European Parliament elections [last] Sunday. Those who dream of a new, post-nationalist Europe will have to make room for contrarians of both the Left and Right who are decidedly cooler to the great experiment known as the European Union.

 In Britain, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) swayed 29% of voters with its decidedly anti-EU platform, finishing better than the Labor and Tory parties. Those limeys, they just have to be different; and thank goodness for it or else they might have adopted the Euro like a lot of other foolish countries, thus handcuffing themselves to the moribund economy of Greece and other ailing European economies not far behind.

The French came out in force for National Front which won 25% of the vote, more than any other party. An anti-EU party in Germany, a nation where pro-EU sentiments are still the default position, managed to win 7% of the vote and elect a few members to the Strasbourg assembly for the first time. In Denmark, the Danish People’s Party defeated its rivals with 27% of the vote. While these tallies may seem insignificant in an American context, they are in fact very healthy returns in multi-party parliamentary systems.

 … Getting everyday Europeans to love the European Union has always been a tough sell. Nine years ago, when the EU’s proposed constitution was put to a popular vote in France and the Netherlands, most political observers agreed that the election was a referendum on the very essence of European integration; until the vote actually happened, that is, then it didn’t mean a thing. Both nations roundly rejected the constitution. Shortly thereafter, a proposed vote in Ireland was cancelled, which was the ruling class’s way of saying that there shall be no more voting until the people can figure out how to do it correctly.

A number of European nations have ratified the EU constitution, though nearly all by parliamentary vote. Only in Spain and Luxembourg did popular majorities say yes to the EU. In several other nations—the UK, Portugal, Poland, Denmark—the vote has been “postponed.” There is little chance that popular majorities in these countries will approve the EU constitution so a vote on ratification will be put off until public opinion can be massaged in the proper direction.

Noticing a trend here? Like squeegee-men at a Bronx intersection, they simply won’t take no for an answer.

 … Those who favor the EU understand well that Brussels has a sleeper hold on its member states, they just don’t talk about it as if it’s a bad thing. Where others complain of lost sovereignty, they say good riddance to ugly nationalism. Where others mourn the demise of national identities, they rejoice at the slow fading of artificial lines that have divided people for too long.

The EU cannot be stronger without the member states being weaker. It’s a zero sum game. More decisions being made at the Union-level mean fewer being made in the various capitals of Europe. The message of Sunday’s vote was loud and clear, if the elites are willing to hear it: Europeans don’t want a superstate if it will cost them their homelands.