Europe 2009 Archive

Maps of German election results

With Germany voting next week to elect a new Bundestag, I thought people might find these maps of the German results from the European Parliament election interesting. They are available on the website of the Federal Returning Officer, and show the level of support for each party by state and district, as well as maps showing who won each district and state. My favourite map has been posted below, which shows the level of support for the Left Party in each district. Notice a pattern?

Europe 2009 – summary

The overall results for the European Parliament were:

  • EPP-ED – 264
  • PES – 161
  • ALDE – 83
  • G/EFA – 53
  • EUL-NGL – 33
  • I/D – 18
  • UEN – 14
  • Other – 110

While all of the groups except the Greens lost seats, due to the reduction in size of the Parliament, these were on very different scales. ALDE and the EUL-NGL each lost 5 seats, once you take into account the parliamentary reduction. The Greens gained 13 seats. The People’s Party and Democrats gained 20, and the Socialists lost 35. This shows that there was a clear swing away from the centre-left which effectively went to both the centre-right and the Greens.

The UEN and Independence/Democracy are reduced to effective rumps. In both cases a majority of the group’s remaining seats are held by a single party. 13 of the 18 seats in the Independence/Democracy group are held by the United Kingdom Independence Party, while 9 of the 14 UEN seats are held by Italy’s Lega Nord.

It appears that Italy’s Democratic Party will join in a coalition with the Party of European Socialists, which will become the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats for Europe. These 21 MEPs will lessen the losses suffered by the PES.

There appears that there will be a reorganisation of the groups of the European right, with the creation of a European Conservatives group led by the UK Conservative Party. There will be a group of MEPs left over from the dissolution of UEN and I/D. There are also a sizeable number of far-right MEPs, some of which were formerly part of Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty during its brief existence and others from parties that have never had seats before (such as the British National Party). There may well be sufficient right-wing MEPs, once the Conservative group has formed, to create some sort of far-right coalition.

In one final note, I produced an elaborate prediction just before the election predicting where every seat would go. I’ve gone back and revisited the prediction, and calculated that I correctly predicted 89.95% of the seats, or 662 seats (with 74 seats being incorrectly predicted). It’s not quite as impressive when you bear in mind that all EU countries use proportional representation, so it’s easy to guess the bulk of seats, and it’s always the last few that are up for grabs. Anyway, it’s always good to review your predictions after the election.

Europe 2009 – Results wrap part 3

Here we go with the final instalment, covering Greece and the Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007.

  • Bulgaria – The result was largely status quo. The six parties contesting the election ended up being ranked in the same order. The centre-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria gained a 2.7% swing and held their 5 seats. The centre-left Coalition for Bulgaria suffered a 2.9% swing and lost one of their five seats. The liberal Movement for Rights and Freedoms suffered most, falling from 20.3% to 14.1%, losing one of their four seats. The extreme racist National Union Attack dropped from 14.2% to 11.95%, losing one of their three seats. The liberal conservative National Movement for Stability and Progress gained 1.9% and a second seat. Two right-wing parties who missed out on seats in 2007 ran on a joint platform as the Blue Coalition. Despite a 1.1% swing against them, they won one seat.
  • Czech Republic – The 2004 election was a strange election, with the major centre-left party coming fifth. Normality was restored in 2009. The right-wing Civic Democratic Party held on to about 30% of the vote and maintained 9 seats. The Social Democratic Party recovered to 22% after getting less than 9% in 2004, and they won 7 seats, up from 2 in 2004. The Communist Party fell by 6% from their remarkable 2004 result, winning 14% and maintaining 4 of their 6 seats. The centre-right Christian Democratic Union fell from 9.6% to 7.6%, while maintaining their two seats. The European Democrats, who came third in 2004, fell from 11% to 2% and lost all their of their MEPs.
  • Estonia – The result was a disaster for the Social Democratic Party, who suffered a 24% swing and lost two of their three seats. One of these seats went to the Centre Party, who won two seats. The other went to independent candidate Indrek Tarand, who polled 25.8%. The Reform Party and Union of Res Publica and Pro Patria each held on to their one seat.
  • Greece – The election saw the centre-left Panhellenic Socialist Movement gain 2.6%, holding on to their 8 seats, while the centre-right New Democracy lost 10.7%, falling to 32.3% and losing 3 of their 11 seats. The Communist Party fell from 9.5% to 8.35%, losing 1 of their 3 seats. The far-right Popular Orthodox Rally performed well, gaining a swing of 3% and winning a second seat. In addition to the Coalition of the Radical Left holding their one seat, the Greens won a seat for the first time with 3.5% of the vote.
  • Hungary – The election was a decisive win for the cente-right Fidesz, who won 56.4%, up from 47.4% in 2004. This gave them 2 more seats on top of the 12 they won in 2004. The Hungarian Socialist Party’s vote halved from 34% to 17%, which saw them lose 5 of their 9 seats. The far-right Jobbik did well on their first campaign, winning 14.8% of the vote and 3 MEPs. The Hungarian Democratic Forum maintained their 5.3% of the vote and one seat, while the Alliance of Free Democrats were decimated, losing both their seats.
  • Latvia – The centre-right Civic Union topped the poll with 25%, while the centre-left Harmony Centre polled 20%. For Human Rights in United Latvia, which is part of the European Free Alliance, polled 9.7% and maintained their one seat. The two right-wing parties that won almost 50% between them in 2004 were reduced to about 14%, with each party only holding on to one seat.
  • Lithuania – The centre-right Homeland Union had  a strong result, going from 12% to 26%, winning two extra seats on top of the seats they won in 2004. The Social Democrats polled 18%, which gave them a third seat. The centrist Labour Party collapsed, falling from 30% to under 9%, which cost them all but one of their five seats.
  • Poland – In 2004 Poland’s major parties, Civic Platform and Law and Justice, only polled 36.8% between them. In 2009 they polled almost 72%. This result saw centre-right Civic Platform win 44% of the vote and 25 seats (up from 15) and far-right Law and Justice poll 27.4% and win 15 seats (up from 7). The left coalition also gained more votes, but this only brought them up to 12.3%, winning 2 more seats to add to their existing 5. The centre-right Polish People’s Party lost one of their four seats. The far-right League of Polish Families, which came second in 2004, did not contest the election, and the right-wing Self-Defence party was decimated, losing all six of their MEPs.
  • Romania – The election saw a swing away from the centre-right major party to the centre-left major party, with the Social Democratic Party gaining 8% and an 11th MEP. The Democratic Liberal Party polled 6.9% less than its two predecessor parties, losing 6 of their 16 seats. The centrist National Liberal Party came third, gaining 1.1% of the vote, but losing one of their 6 seats. The Democratic Union of Hungarians gained 3.4% to 8.92%, giving them a third seat, although their ticket included a formerly independent MEP, meaning they effectively held steady. The far-right Greater Romania Party doubled their vote from 4.15% to 8.65%, giving them 3 MEPs. A seat was also won by independent candidate Elena Băsescu, daughter of the President who was described as “Romania’s Paris Hilton”.
  • Slovenia – The result was good for the centre-right Democratic Party, that went from 17.7% to 26.9%, holding on to their 2 seats. The Social Democrats also polled 18.5%, up from 14.2%, which gave them a second seat. Centre-right New Slovenia fell from first place to third with a 7.2% swing, costing them one of their two seats. The Liberal Democrats polled 21.9% as part of a coalition with the Democratic Party of Retired People in 2004, giving them two MEPs. The two parties fell to 18.7%, with the Liberal Democrats holding one seat while the other party won no representation. The centre-left Zares party polled 9.8% and elected their first MEP.
  • Slovakia – The centre-left Smer came first, growing their vote from 17% to 32% and winning two extra seats in addition to their existing three. The centre-right Slovak Democratic and Christian Union remained steady on about 17%, losing one of their three seats. Other centre-right parties won 5 seats, with those parties collectively losing 3 seats. The far-right Slovak National Party elected its first MEP.

Europe 2009 – Results wrap part 2

Here we go again:

  • Austria – It was a bad result for both parties in the governing grand coalition, with the centre-right People’s Party suffering a 2.7% swing, and the Social Democratic Party suffering a 9.5% swing. The SPO lost 3 of their 7 MEPs and the People’s Party remained steady on 6 seats. The Greens also lost a quarter of their vote, although they maintained their two seats. The independent Hans-Peter Martin came third with a 3.7% swing, and won a third seat for his ticket. The far-right Freedom Party doubled their vote to over 12%, and won a second seat. Thenew far-right party Alliance for the Future of Austria also polled 4.6% but failed to win a seat.
  • Cyprus – Both major parties, Democratic Rally and Progressive Party of Working People, gained votes with swings of about 7% for each party, although they only maintained the 2 seats that each party held. The Democratic Party lost a quarter of its seat, holding on to its one seat. The Movement for Social Democracy lost 1% of the vote, but managed to win a seat for the first time, after the centrist European Party lost a majority of its vote, and its sole MEP.
  • Denmark – The result was bad for the centre-left Social Democrats, suffering an 11% swing and losing one of their five seats, although they remained in first place. The governing centre-right Venstre party gained 1%, polling 20% and maintaining 3 seats. Greens-affiliated Socialist People’s Party almost doubled their vote to 15.85%, winning a second seat. The right-wing Danish People’s Party went from 6.8% to 15.3%, winning a second seat. The June Movement collapsed from 9% to 2.4%.
  • Finland – Finnish results were bad for all three major parties, with them all suffering negative swings, varying from a 0.5% swing against the National Coalition Party to 4.4% against the Centre Party. The parties that benefited included the Green League and the Libertas-aligned True Finns. The three major parties each lost one seat, with the National Coalition Party and Centre Party holding 3 seats each, and the Social Democrats holding 2. The Green League gained a second seat, and True Finns and Christian Democrats each won a seat for the first time. The minority Swedish People’s Party maintained their one seat while Left Alliance lost their one seat.
  • Germany – The German result saw a small swing to the left, even though the centre-right still won a decisive victory. After a massive defeat in 2004, the Social Democratic Party maintained its 23 seats, while the CDU/CSU coalition won 42, down 7 from 49 in 2004. Those seven seats went to minor parties with the centrist (although right-leaning) Free Democratic  Party winning 5 extra seats, for a total of 12. The Greens also gained one extra seat, winning 14. The Left Party also won more votes than the previous Party of Democratic Socialism, winning an 8th MEP.
  • Italy – The result was major victory for Silvio Berlusconi’s new party the People of Freedom. The party won 29 seats, up from 27 seats for the party’s predecessors in 2004. The result was also strong for the right-wing regionalist Lega Nord, winning 5 extra seats to add to their existing 4. The liberal party Italy of Values increased their seats from 2 to 7. In contrast, a number of small party coalitions were excluded after failing to pass the 4% threshold, including the coalition of socialists and Greens and the communist coalition.
  • Malta – The result in Malta was a decisive victory for the Labour Party, who easily won three of the five seats, with the Nationalists maintaining their two seats. While the Greens came close to winning a seat in 2004, with almost 10% of the vote, their vote dropped back to their normal level of 2.3%.
  • Sweden - Results for the major parties remained largely steady, with the Social Democrats holding 5 seats and the Moderate Party 4 seats. The centrist People’s Party gained a third seat, and the Greens gained a second seat. The Left Party lost more than half of its vote and one of their two seats. The eurosceptic June List lost three-quarters of its vote and all three of their seats. The Pirate Party polled 7.1% in their first election and won a seat.

Europe 2009 – Results wrap part 1

Here is a brief summary of how the EU elections went in each country. Our first edition covers Ireland, the UK, Spain, Portugal, France and the Benelux countries.

  • Ireland - While Fianna Fail’s vote collapsed and Fine Gael’s vote rose, it didn’t dramatically alter the party’s performances. Each party lost one seat each, while Labour gained two. Sinn Fein lost their sole seat and the Socialist Party’s Joe Higgins was elected. One of the two independents was defeated.
  • Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland followed the pattern of electing one MEP from each unionist party and one from the more popular republican party, in this case Sinn Fein. However, in this case Sinn Fein for the first time topped the poll. This was partly due to the majority unionist vote being split three ways, with former DUP MEP Jim Allister running on the Traditonal Unionist Voice ticket.
  • Great Britain – Labour’s vote collapsed, losing 7% and coming third on 15.7% behind the Conservatives and the UK Independence Party. UKIP kept its vote steady at just over 16% while gaining an extra seat, while Labour lost 5 of its seats. The Liberal Democrats also suffered a 1.2% swing and lost one of their seats. The Green party gained 2.4% and came close to winning a number of extra seats but ultimately only managed to maintain their two seats. The British National Party managed to elect two MEPs in the North of England. Labour was beaten into second place in Wales for the first time in 91 years, and were also defeated by the Scottish National Party in Scotland. Labour came fifth behind the Conservatives, UKIP, Liberal Democrats and Greens in both South-East and South-West.
  • Portugal – The centre-right Social Democratic Party recovered from its massive 2004 defeat, winning 8 seats to the 7 seats won by the centre-left Socialist Party (which had won 12 in 2004). The Left Bloc gained two seats while the other two minor party coalitions maintained their existing two seats.
  • Spain – The 2004 election took place shortly after the election of the new Socialist government and the Madrid train bombings, and were a major defeat for the centre-right. This time around, the governing Socialists suffered a 5% swing while the People’s Party gained 1%. Overall, due to the reduction in MEPs, this resulting in the Socialists losing 4 seats and the People’s party losing 1.
  • France – The French result was a major victory for Nicolas Sarkozy’s centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) who gained an 11.2% swing to poll almost 28%, which gave them four extra seats. The opposition Socialist Party lost 12.4% of its vote, falling to 16.5%, which cut their number of MEPs from 31 to 14. The result was very strong for the Greens-led Europe Écologie, which polled more than double the 2004 Greens vote, winning 16.3%, almost overtaking the Socialists, and winning 14 seats (up from 6 in 2004). The centrist Democratic Movement lost one third of its vote and half its seats in comparison to the former UDF party. The far right National Front suffered similarly, losing 4 of its 7 MEPs. Socialist votes also went to the Left Front, which doubled its MEP contingent (bringing it to 4) and the New Anticapitalist Party, which polled over 4% but did not elect any MEPs.
  • Belgium Dutch-speaking – The result saw all five parties that won seats in 2004 lose votes. The centre-right Christian Democrats lost almost 5% of its vote, keeping its 3 seats. The liberal Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats lost 1.35%, but maintained their 3 seats. The far-right Flemish Interest (formerly Flemish Bloc) lost 7.3% of its vote after polling 23% in 2004 and lost one of their 3 seats. The Socialist Party fell to 13.2% with a 4.6% swing, and losing one of their 3 seats. The Greens were the only party to hold up, only losing 0.08% and maintaining a 7.9% vote, and their one seat. The remaining vote flowed to the new centre-right Flanders secessionist New Flemish Alliance (9.9%) and the right-wing List Dedecker, who polled 7.3%.
  • Belgium French-speaking – Three of the four main parties in the French-speaking region lost votes, all flowing to the local Greens (called ‘Ecolo’). The Socialist Party lost 7%, falling to 29.1%. The liberal Reformist Movement lost 1.5%, falling to 26%. The centre-right Humanist Democratic Centre lost 1.8%, falling to 13.34%. The far-right National Front’s vote halved from 7.5% to 3.5%. The  Greens gained 13%, polling 22.9% and gaining a second MEP.
  • Belgium German-speaking – Like the French-speaking region, the result was good for the Greens and bad for everyone else, with the incumbent Christian Social Party suffering a 10% swing, but they still safely won the sole MEP for the region.
  • Luxembourg – The six Luxembourg seats broke down between the parties the same as in 2004, with the Christian Social People’s Party winning 3 seats and the three other main parties winning 1 seat each. However, the centre-right CSVP suffered a 6% swing and the Socialist Workers’ Party lost 3%, while the Greens and Democratic Party both gained votes.
  • Netherlands - The Dutch result was strong for left-wing minor parties and the far-right. The far-right Party of Freedom polled almost 17% in their first European campaign, coming second and winning 4 seats. The liberal Democrats 66 went from 4.2% to 11.3%, winning 2 extra seats on top of their existing one. The Greens went from 7.4% to 8.9%, gaining a third seat. The centre-right Christian Democratic Appeal lost 4.4%, polling 20%. The Dutch Labour Party suffered most, falling from 23.6% to 12.2%, losing 4 of their 3 seats. The liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy also lost 1.3% of their votes, and one of their 4 MEPs in the process.

Turnout and voluntary voting

I’ve been having a debate this afternoon with Sam Clifford of Public Polity over Twitter about the role of low turnout in the performance of the British National Party in the European Parliament election, the value of compulsory voting and how this all interacts. Sam wrote a post at Public Polity pointing out how a combination of proportional representation and low turnout tends to help far-right parties (although I would question the universality of that statement, I admit it did help the BNP in England yesterday).

I disputed the value of compulsory voting in dealing with issues of low voter turnout. Unlike most people I know who are actively interested in Australian politics, I actually think that compulsory voting is a bad thing, and treats a symptom of political dysfunction while hiding the real problem.

First of all, let’s look at the facts regarding the BNP’s performance in the UK yesterday. It’s true that turnout was very depressed across the UK and the European Union, with 43% turnout continent-wide and much lower in the UK. Indeed, in both North-West England and Yorkshire and the Humber, the BNP won more raw votes in 2004 than in 2009, but lower turnout resulting in a smaller number of votes producing a winning result. It appears that, rather than the expenses scandal and general disillusionment driving Labour voters into the hands of the BNP, they mostly stayed home giving the BNP more bang for their buck. It’s also worth putting the result in its own perspective: the BNP won two seats out of 72 UK electorates in a Parliament of 736. The result puts them in no sort of position of influence or balance of power, and they are not at the moment part of any European parliament group which would give them resources. They only polled 6.2% and are still not in with a credible chance of winning seats in the House of Commons.

It’s also worth recognising that, in spite of all the howling from British political figures about the great shame on their country in having neofascists as elected representatives, they are hardly the first. Parties like the Flemish Bloc, the Pym Fortun List, the Dutch Party for Freedom, the French National Front, the Italian National Alliance, the Austrian Freedom Party and many other neofascist parties have performed much more strongly in the past than the BNP, not to mention Australia’s own One Nation. Ultranationalist parties have a place in a political system, like any other party. As long as there are racists and bigots in a society, some of them will form a political party and run for office.

Arguments have been pushed that the European proportional representation system allowed the BNP to win representation. Of course it is true that PR allowed the BNP to win seats in the European Parliament they would have otherwise not won, it’s worth remembering that the BNP have won many council seats in England, where all councils are elected by first past the post. Furthermore, I would argue that the UK’s system of first-past-the-post has encouraged the phenomenom where England’s north has been abandoned by the Conservatives and taken for granted by Labour, allowing voters to feel disillusioned and turn to the BNP or drop out of the system. If you assume that some BNP voters turn to the party out of frustration that their voices aren’t heard by Westminster, it seems perverse to prefer electoral systems that ensure that these people’s concerns are well-founded, rather than dealing with them. The attitude to PR and the BNP seems to be “if these people feel disenfranchised, we better make sure that their votes don’t make a difference”.

Sam also made the argument that non-compulsory voting allowed the BNP to win by allowing much lower turnout levels. While this is true in the short term, I argue that compulsory voting covers up political dysfunction in a society and encourages political parties to ignore their own bases.

It seems that faith in compulsory voting is a cornerstone of our civic religion in Australia. It is seen as just as essential to our representative democracy as the secret ballot and universal suffrage. It is very hard to find people in political parties and the media who openly question compulsory voting, even within alternative parties like the Greens. I originally thought like that before being challenged by a New Zealand Greens MP, Nandor Tanczos, in 2005 to explain why compulsory voting was actually a good policy. We in Australia seem to have been taken in by the idea that anyone who does not vote is failing in their duty to our democracy, which seems a very odd thing for people to believe in such a laidback country as Australia.

I believe that voluntary voting is a preferable model for two main reasons which relate to the importance of variable levels of turnout. Firstly, election turnout is an important barometer of dysfunction in a political system and disillusionment with government, the state, the electoral system and political parties. Where you feel that your vote does not matter because you genuinely don’t care about which party wins, or you know your vote won’t count because you live in a safe seat, or where you don’t believe that the representatives you are electing will have any real power to make change, then it is perfectly rational and reasonable to not vote. Low turnout in the European Parliament reflected the reality that MEPs of all parties are distant from their constituents and that the European Parliament, despite the interesting exercise of the  European election process and its role as the only truly democratic body in the EU, remains largely powerless in comparison to other EU bodies. Low turnout in the European election reflects the need to rectify the democratic deficit in the EU. Until that is rectified, European politicians don’t deserve the extra legitimacy that comes with a high turnout.

Likewise, countries with electoral systems that make every vote count tend to have much higher levels of voter turnout, with turnout on the European mainland in national elections much higher than in Canada, the UK and the United States. I tend to think that if Australia abolished compulsory voting, we would fall somewhere between New Zealand and the United States, as we have a proportional Senate and preference voting ensures more votes count (although this only really applies in marginal seats).

Compulsory voting hides the disillusionment and dysfunction that is endemic in Australia’s political system. Forcing unwilling voters to the polls only hides one symptom of this dysfunction, it does not cure the disease. If we want people to vote, we should encourage them by implementing electoral systems that make every vote count and shame politicians into being better representatives.

I also think that voluntary voting ensures that political parties recognise the importance of their own loyal voters in getting them elected. In Australia, both the major parties rely on large swathes of voters who can be relied upon to vote for their party at every election and makes no effort to appeal to them, either when setting their party’s agenda or in their campaign activity. While it is important to appeal to the centre ground, a political system where only swinging voters matter is dysfunctional. If you look at the US, candidates and parties must convince centrist independents to vote for them while inspiring and motivating their own base to come out and vote.

I’ve heard it said that far-right parties find it easier to motivate their supporters to come out and vote. I would argue, rather, that parties that more closely reflect their voters in terms of their policy agenda find it easier to motivate those voters to turn up and vote. In a political system with only two parties, unsurprisingly neither party is particularly close to its voter base, so its voters tend to be less motivated. If you have a system where there are five or six significant parties along the spectrum, each is more effective at motivating its loyal voter base to turn out.

Rather than trying to shut them out of the electoral system, or forcing unwilling voters to go to the polls and vote for whichever name they recognise, the way to deal with far-right parties is to look at the root causes of their support. Systems of proportional representation bring major parties closer to the people, and help break down the barriers between voters and politicians. As well as that, the major parties must take responsibility for destroying trust in the political system, which helps foster support for the BNP and similar parties. You must also recognise, however, that there is a certain bigot element in every society, and some of them will run for office, and occasionally win. A proportional system means every voice is heard and are represented appropriately, but you need to distinguish between representation and power. A few seats held by far-right extremists in any parliament does not destroy the legitimacy of that Parliament or threaten democracy. Indeed, treating all political parties with respect and giving them their due can often break down the claims of parties like the BNP and show them for their true colours. That is how you ultimately defeat extremists and improve democracy.

Europe 2009 – Results night

Welcome to the Tally Room’s live coverage of election results from the European election. In addition to myself, there’ll be liveblogging from a few guest bloggers. The results website goes live at 2am tomorrow morning, and results should start coming in early on Monday morning with most results becoming clear by the afternoon. Of course, I’m going to sleep now so we may not be actually liveblogging here for a few hours.

Europe 2009 – Irish results

6:05pm – Voters in Ireland and the Czech Republic went to the polls on Friday. Czechs will still vote on Saturday, and neither country will count their European Parliament ballots until Sunday evening, so we don’t have any information about the European results.

However, Ireland also went to the polls to elect local government councillors and fill two vacant Dail seats: one in Dublin South and the other in Dublin Central. Votes are starting to be counted now and we should have some results within two hours.

6:17pm – In Dublin South, a by-election is being held to fill the seat of Fianna Fail TD Seamus Brennan, who died in July 2008. Fine Gael recruited RTE Economics Editor George Lee as their candidate, in a move reminiscent of Maxine McKew in Bennelong. Early first preferences in Dublin South have Lee winning 70% of first preferences.

6:21pm – In comparison, in 2007 the 3 Fianna Fail candidates in Dublin South polled just over 41%, compared to 27% for the 3 Fine Gael candidates, although both parties elected 2 TDs, with the fifth seat going to Eamon Ryan of the Green Party.

6:28pm – Dublin Central is the constituency of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who polled 36.8% of the primary vote. The other seats were won by another Fianna Fail TD, a Labour candidate and independent Tony Gregory. Gregory’s death in 2008 triggered the by-election.

While Dublin South seems a fait accompli, you could argue that Dublin Central is a four-way race between Fianna Fail (running Bertie’s brother Maurice Ahern), Fine Gael, Labour and independent Maureen O’Sullivan.

7:12pm – The current figures in Dublin Central:

  • Paschal Donahue (FG) – 21%
  • Ivana Bacik (LAB) – 20%
  • Maureen O’Sullivan (IND) – 20%
  • Maurice Ahern (FF) – 15%
  • Christy Burke (SF) – 9%

It appears that Fianna Fail will definitely fail to win this seat.

7:39pm – So the numbers in Dublin Central are remaining steady. If this is so, it appears that Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein preferences will flow to Maureen O’Sullivan, putting her in first place when you narrow it to a three-horse race. Either Labour or Fine Gael is then eliminated, and whichever remains has to get a large slow from the other to defeat O’Sullivan. Considering Sinn Fein and Green preferences, I tend to think it will be a race between O’Sullivan and Labour, with Labour needing a very strong preference flow from Fine Gael to win.

8:22pm – The Green Party are performing very badly on local councils, and it appears they will lose many of their seats. They polling 2-3% in many places.

8:58pm – Even though the Irish aren’t formally counting European votes tonight, it appears that there are some reports coming through from scrutineers. In Dublin, it appears that Labour and Fine Gael safely are on track for one seat, while Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party is performing strongly.

9:02pm – Various results in North-West Ireland indicate that Libertas leader Declan Ganley is performing well, including polling 31% in Sligo.

9:05pm – Ganley is also polling well in Clare and Donegal. It appears the polling figures underestimated his support.

10:13pm – North-West Ireland update: Libertas’ Declan Ganley and independent Mareen Harkin performing well. Pat ‘the Cope’ Gallagher (Fianna Fail) not performing as well as expected.

10:21pm – Dublin Central has long been dominated by the Ahern family, with Bertie Ahern’s brother Maurice running for Fianna Fail. Yet Maurice Ahern is on 12%, with Maureen O’Sullivan on 26%, and Fine Gael on 22%.

10:23pm – Apparently Ciaran Cuffe, who is a Green Party TD, has raised the prospect of the Green Party withdrawing from the government, which would likely bring down the government and bring on a general election.

10:31pm – Tonight has been horrible for the Green Party. Their polling numbers are extremely low and their council numbers have been decimated. You would have to think they are at risk of being wiped out in the Dail at the next election. If they were to bring down the government and go back to first principles, could that be the only way to salvage their base? It’s possible the government could fall over the next year without the involvement of the Green Party, so wouldn’t it be better for them to pick key issues to play hardball with Fianna Fail, and be willing to ultimately pull out if need be.

Europe 2009 – Day 1 results

Thursday June 4 saw voting in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. I haven’t seen any results from the UK for either local council elections in England or the European Parliament (which I believe will be counted on Sunday), however, we have got results for the Netherlands.

Based on exit polls, the result seems to be:

  • Christian Democratic Appeal (EPP) – 19.6%, 5 seats (-2)
  • Party of Freedom (Far-right) – 15.3%, 4 seats (+4)
  • Labour (PES) – 13.9%, 4 seats (-3)
  • People”s Party for Freedom and Democracy (ELDR) – 11.0%, 3 seats (-1)
  • Democrats (ELDR) – 10.2%, 3 seats (+2)
  • GroenLinks (GRN) – 8.8%, 2 seats (-)
  • Socialists (EUL) – 7.9%, 2 seats (-)
  • Christian Union (I/DEM) – 7.4%, 2 seats (-)

Meanwhile in the UK, the British Labour government doesn’t seem to be waiting for the expected disastrous election results for the party to start imploding with up-and-coming Cabinet minister James Purnell resigning from the cabinet and calling on Gordon Brown to quit:

We therefore owe it to our country to give it a real choice. We need to show that we are prepared to fight to be a credible government and have the courage to offer an alternative future.

I am therefore calling on you to stand aside to give our party a fighting chance of winning. As such I am resigning from government.

The party was here long before us, and we want it to be here long after we have gone. We must do the right thing by it.

I am not seeking the leadership, nor acting with anyone else. My actions are my own considered view, nothing more.

If the consensus is that you should continue, then I will support the government loyally from the backbenches. But I do believe that this question now needs to be put.

12:19pm – Update from both Netherlands and the UK. Justin-Paul has pointed out that the Dutch results might not go as the exit polls predict:

Okay, stop press. I’m taking a closer look at the Dutch results; it looks like the Greens have a chance of winning a third seat at the expense of Labour. Some of these results are unprecedented: both the Democrats and Greens outpolled Labour in Amsterdam, which is one of its key strongholds. The Democrats registered a massive 14% swing to go to 21%; the Greens got a more modest one of 2% to poll 20%. Labour just under 15%.

The Party for Freedom has polled some particularly disturbing results, coming first in a few other key Labour strongholds like Rotterdam.

In the UK, the first council to report is Bristol, where the result is:

Lib Dems = 36 (+4)
Conservatives = 17 (+4)
Labour = 16 (-8)
Greens = 1 (-)

For purpose of comparison, Bristol council covers four Westminster electorates, three held by Labour and one by the Liberal Democrats.

Europe 2009 – Profile summary

I’ve been writing so much stuff about the European Parliament election over recent days that I thought it would be useful to use one post to give links to all of my posts. Here are links to all 27 national profiles: