Where European voters go, American voters often follow. And vice-versa. It’s no coincidence that Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Brian Mulrooney, and Helmut Kohl all helmed their nations at the same time.
It’s also probably no coincidence that Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Gerhard Schroeder, etc — you get my point already, I’m sure.
So what to make of this? Read:
Europe’s governing parties received a mauling from disgruntled voters Sunday as preliminary results from the EU Parliament elections showed opposition parties making sweeping gains across the continent.
In Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrats suffered their biggest post-war setback, picking up just over 20 percent of the vote. British Prime Minister Tony Blair fared little better, with little more than one in five voters backing his Labor Party. But the left’s worst performance was in Poland, where the ruling party of premier-designate Marek Belka was virtually wiped out by populist right wing groupings.
Conservative governments also took a pounding from voters who used the European Parliament elections as a mid-term protest vote. In Italy, fierce opposition to the conflict in Iraq saw the center-left grouping of European Commission President Romano Prodi trounce the pro-war party of Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi, while in France, President Jacques Chirac’s UMP party mustered only 16 percent of the vote. Other governments that took a battering from voters included the Dutch, Danish, Belgian, Hungarian and Slovak ones.
The only administrations to break the trend were the Spanish and Greek governments, both enjoying honeymoons with their electorates after recent election victories.
Is the trend in the Western democracies an anti-incumbent one? If so, that spells serious trouble for President Bush in November. The same tide sweeping against Labour in the UK, the left-leaning SDU in Germany, and conservatives in Italy and France, could wash up against the status quo in Washington, too.
Or, is the European backlash less against the ruling parties, and more against the new status quo of EU supranationalism? If so, then an internationalist like Kerry could have trouble against the more-nationalist Bush.
We might not know the answer until November.