The returns are early, but if the exit polls are right, the far right has made dramatic gains in the European Elections. As the BBC notes:
At the moment the exit poll predictions in France are the most striking story on this election results night. Even the prime minister says the Front National is heading for victory - a political earthquake indeed. Is the UK about to follow suit on the political Richter scale?The Guardian noted that the governing socialists had only received 12% of the vote. The Guardian said European Politics had been jolted as seldom before. The far right also won in the Netherlands.
Elsewhere exit polls suggest the radical left anti-austerity party Syriza has come first in the elections in Greece. While in Italy it looks set to be a close fight between the Democratic Party of the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (running in his first national campaign) and Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement.
So plenty of anti-establishment parties are poised to increase their share of the vote, as predicted. It could well make for a more interesting more rumbustious European parliament. Even so there will still be a clear pro-European majority.
The National Front in France is a notorious anti-immigrant, racist and fascist party. That it appears to have one the largest share of the French vote is stunning. Meanwhile the UK IP - also an anti-immigrant and anti Euro is predicted to do well also.
Why does this matter? Sometime ago I posted a graph that I thought summed up everything wrong with the economy. The graph is not a surprise to anyone here: labor's share of income has fallen dramatically since 2000. The same has happened in Europe, although arguably to a lesser degree. Piketty's book, currently all the rage, breaks out the depressing reality in great detail.
This has lead to a loss of faith in the elite consensus that existed on both sides of the Atlantic. The specter of bank bailouts for the rich and high unemployment, and the fact that the problems with the banks were treated with urgency while the problem of unemployment is not has badly damaged many of the traditional parties. Tonight in Europe this has lead to a rise in the right, though the left in Greece has also won.
The Euro elections are a warning short. a canary in the coal mine that shows the underlying trends in the economy are inevitably going to cause political turmoil if not addressed.
6:09 PM PT: Pretty amazing numbers from the UK. The UK Independence Party has about 29% of the UK vote. The Conservatives have about 24% and Labor has about 24%. London is still out though - they are having troubles counting votes - so Labor's total should go up. The British press is confident that the UK IP has one.