How the Euro is destroying traditional major politicial parties on the continent

Many western democracies in the second half of the twentieth century had two main parties competing for power – a centre right party and a centre left party. This model is being blown apart by Euro membership and the austerity policies it has generated.

The most extreme outcome so far is in Greece, which has arguably the worst experience of Euro membership to date. There latest polls for the forthcoming General Election put Pasok, the old centre left party, on just 5.8% of the vote, with electors put off by its implementation of EU austerity when it was in government. The centre right party is in second place on just 29% of the vote, also damaged by its association with the iron discipline of the Euro. The relatively new left wing anti austerity party, Syriza, currently leads in the polls on 33%. So the two old parties that used to alternate as governments command just 35.2% of the vote.

In France a recent poll for the 2017 Presidential election showed Hollande’s socialist cause struggling on just 15% and the recent version of the Gaullists, Sarkozy’s team UMP, on 27%, both behind the National Front. So there the two main old parties (and successors) on this particular poll were on just 42%.

In Spain PP, the right of centre party is on 28.6% and PSOE, the left of centre party on 23.4%, before the onslaught of Podemos, the left wing anti austerity party on 23%.

In Italy, with no tradition of stable majority governments, the present left grouping is polling well at 37% whilst the right of centre alternative, Forza Italia, languishes on 14%. The 5 Star challenger movement is on 19%. The latest surge has come for the regional party , the Lega Nord, with 13% of the overall vote, concentrated in the north where they seek a largely independent Padania under a loose federal structure. In both Italy and Spain the richer parts want to split from their nations, or at least control more of their own money.

Even in Germany, where the Euro has worked well for the country and where recent economic performance has been much better, the CDU and SPD only marshall 65% of the vote between them and have ended up in grand coalition as neither can win outright or win in coalition with similar allies.

The interesting question is why do these traditional parties across the zone remain so keen on the whole project, when increasing numbers of their electors reject it or want it modified, and when electorally it is so damaging to these parties? It appears that the southern countries cling to the idea that Germany will pay more of the bills and they need to stay in and try and change it, whilst Germany makes clear she can only put up with it if the Euro is on German terms of no bail outs, no cross guarantees, and tight control of spending and deficits.

It is also interesting that none of the challenger parties so far have managed to win a majority, and none of the challenger parties outside Germany (save in France) want to get out of the Euro anyway. The Euro has helped make a mess of the old parties, but has so far not triggered its nemesis with strong anti Euro parties. The Greek election will be fascinating, to see if Syriza can win as a challenger, and then to see if they can stay in the Euro and deliver their promise of debt cancellations and less austerity.


  1. stred
    January 9, 2015

    The Euro may have some bearing on the rise of left wing anti-austerity parties but the BBC has other ideas. In the run up to the election it has started a new series presented by a Jaques Peretti, in which this journalist who seems to have no qualifications in economics or Wiki history, interviews the brilliant Thomas Piketty to show how the super rich are having it all, while the rest of us are becoming poorer. This programme was the most biased Marxist drivel to have been commissioned and the worst example of left wing bias yet.

    Apparently the wealthy are buying up London because of the decision years ago by the evil Thatcher to cut top rate taxes for the super rich. He interviewed Lffer, who was portrayed as a callous fool and not allowed to justify his theory, wheras Piketty was portrayed as brilliant and not asked why the policies of the French socialist party, which he supports and advises, are such a success and why property in Paris is also very expensive.

    No mention of piles of Chinese cash, freedom of capital and populations, QE shoveling vast amounts of money into property, governments increasing spending prior to the banking crisis, the pre-election subsidies to anyone from anywhere to buy a flat costing £600k for a first time buyer, the huge population increase, or the fact that in other parts of the UK and Europe property prices have slumped.

    You and other should make a complaint to the BBC about the standard of their journalism and political bias in the run up to the election. This programme could have been made by the Russel Brand brigade and, if the younger university educated members of my family are anything to go by, will be readily accepted by younger voters, who have no memory of the result of confiscatory taxes and rent regulation in the 60s or the disastrous results.

  2. Mark B
    January 9, 2015

    Good morning.

    And what of dear old blighty ? Or more to the point, Scotland ? Not doing too well there are we ?

    Conservatives set to lose their one and only UK Westminster seat. Labour in pre-meltdown. A small and insignificant party of a few years ago, on the cusp of power, both in Holyrood and Westminster via a possible coalition with Labour.

    And what of the Tories ? Largely confined to England, with the unenviable reputation that no one, and I do mean no one, want’s to enter into a coalition with them. As they say; “No matter how hard you try, you cannot polish a . . . .” 😉

    As for the Lib Dems ? They will get MP’s. But I’d doubt they will be able to maintain the presence in government they have been allowed under CMD.

    As for other parties such as the Greens and UKIP ? Well I’ll expect that they will keep nibbling away, taking many votes but few, if any seats and thereby putting a spanner in most of the others works.

    But when you give so many power to an unelected body (EU), is it any wonder that you end up with little to say or do, and therefore, show to those with eyes to see, just how irrelevant National politics and parties have become.

    1. Hope
      January 9, 2015

      JR, I guess your questions ought to be answered by the leaders and grandees of your party ie Cameron, Clarke, Heseltine, Osborne, May, Hague etc. They appear to be dead set for the UK to be a region of an EU superstate while giving away our rights and freedoms to non elected bureaucratic socialists. Look at Cameron’s record to date, only yesterday we red his back track on treaty change in the much promoted EU referendum. Merkel, again, stating free movement of people is not going to change and now Cameron agreeing with her!

      Look at the unemployment, destitution the EU is and has created across Europe, look at the basket case of the Euro. Now ask why Cameron is very supportive of the project?

      He stated the UK would not bail out countries directly or indirectly, financially he did. But how about indirectly creating jobs for EU citizens whose economies are devastated by the Euro? How about our fishing grounds given up to the EU, how about expensive energy because of the EU, how about flooding of homes because of EU directives, expensive water because of EU directives not build more reservoirs, build on every piece of land to help mass immigration from the EU, drain on the public services and the World Health Service at breaking point, the list goes on indirect interference that Cameron and your party supports and have supported. No need to look at other parties.

      1. Chris
        January 9, 2015

        That is it, in a nutshell. Well said, Hope.

      2. Hope
        January 9, 2015

        JR, is Michael Meacher MP’s blog correct that Osborne is using a US firm to collect unpaid taxes for which they get a commission? Presumably the commission paid for by our taxes! Concentrating on the lower end of alleged avoiders? When will Osborne use firm to help him make spending cuts? Is Osborne fit for the role of chancellor?

    2. Know-Dice
      January 9, 2015

      Strangely BBC News Night seem to think that Lib Dems will get 26 MPs and UKIP 3.

      I thought that the Lib Dems were done for…

      Reply No-one can tell yet. Based on current polls which are not the same thing as the result the BBC is broadly right.

      1. Hope
        January 9, 2015

        LibDem Voice article totally out of whack regarding the Paris incident. No right minded person could agree with that article. No one should vote for Lib Dems based on its contents. The MSM ought to pick up on it and condemn it, better still What has Clegg got to say about it?

        If this was Farage there would be minute by minute coverage. Tebbit is also correct in his article today, Teresa May needs to be admonished for her views, again, no wonder why people are turning away from the Tories in their droves with the likes of her being touted as a potential Tory leader! Good grief JR you are really too loyal and too good to be in the Tory party. It is becoming difficult how any of your views correlate with the likes of Osborne on economics, EU loving pro immigration Cameron, modernising Teresa who cannot secure our borders or export criminals to provide security for the citizens of this country- too concerned with hiding reports or with gay marriage, Boles wanting to build on every peice of land for mass immigration. All having no regard for the infrastructure required for those already paid up taxpayers living here! Hard working people could be carted off anywhere in the EU under the EAW without proper evidence, yet in stark contrast any EU citizen can enter the UK including those with criminal records and served prison sentences. Madness of Tory govt. No thank you.

      2. Lifelogic
        January 9, 2015

        UKIP have far more support than the Libdems (about double currently) but it is spread more evenly so the voting system does not represent this.

        Still they are clearly the best stop Labour/Libdem candidate in very many constituencies and many Tories will hopefully vote tactically.

    3. Hope
      January 9, 2015

      Good blog. Richard Little John’s article in the Daily Mail today is excellent, far better articulated than my blogs, and also sums up why people are turning away from the PC LibLabCon cartel, different cheeks of the same ar5e. The public want a party to represent them and their country, the EU does not do that and hence the cartel do not represent our wishes.

  3. Dame Rita Webb
    January 9, 2015

    Knowing what would likely happen to their savings etc if Greece left the Eurozone, the opinion polls show that around 70% of Greeks want to keep the euro. All of these new parties have another big part of their platforms which leads to their popularity and which the article has misses out. People do not like the traditional parties because they feel they fob them off over it, and apart from voting intentions, thats why you see people taking to the streets of Dresden on a Monday night.

    1. agricola
      January 9, 2015

      By now the movers and shakers in the present Greek government will no doubt have moved the bulk of their loose change to banks not in Greece.

    2. Denis Cooper
      January 9, 2015

      I expect most Greeks are aware that since its independence in 1832 their country has a unenviable history of currency instability and government defaults on its debts, even if some of them don’t fully understand that in fact default was not avoided in the most recent crises, it was just covered up as “restructuring” of the debt which left only about 15% being owed to normal investors:

      “Greece’s official creditors in the eurozone hold 65 percent of the country’s debt load of 317 billion euros. Private sector investors, whose bonds were restructured in 2012, hold just 15 percent. These investors range from mutual funds like Putnam Investments and Capital Group, which own the restructured bonds, to vulture funds that did not participate in the bond swap.

      The I.M.F. and the European Central Bank make up the rest.

      Yanis Varoufakis, an economist and adviser to Mr. Tsipras, says that a Tsipras-led government would not make a private sector haircut a priority — an outcome that many foreign investors now fear.

      Instead, Mr. Varoufakis proposes a grand bargain of sorts by which Europe agrees to exchange its current obligations for new Greek bonds that are linked directly to Greece’s economy. If the economy grows, as it is expected to this year, bondholders receive a nice return; if it does not, the bonds pay nothing.

      “We are turning Europe into a partner for growth as opposed to a partner for austerity,” Mr. Varoufakis said in a recent interview. “This fiscal waterboarding has to end.”

      Mr. Varoufakis is quick to add that such a plan does not signal a return to the days of government profligacy, and he says that the government will not suddenly abandon the many structural reforms Greece has put in place to secure €226 billion, or $266 billion, in loans since 2010.”

      Scaled up for the UK that would be like loans of about £2 trillion, and yet:

      “An increasing number of economists have begun to argue that this tremendous infusion of cash — 125 percent of Greece’s total economy — has done little to help the country itself.”

  4. Lifelogic
    January 9, 2015

    Indeed the Greek election will be interesting. Doubtless Cameron will assist the EU to find another sticking plaster for them.

    The EU essentially help to destroy democracy at local level by drawing power away from the nations and providing not at the MEP level as they are powerless and do not even have a sensible demos. If the UK voted UKIP for every MEP still nothing would change.

    Meanwhile Cameron dare not even debate with Farage it seems. As Cameron clearly has so few sensible policies or arguments to defend and so much past ratting to cover up. The question is not should the greens (on 1% or so) be there but should the Libdems be there. The three main parties in terms of support are clearly Labour, Conservative & UKIP. UKIP were top in the last nation election.

    1. Hope
      January 9, 2015

      I think Farage debating with Clegg has made Cameron want to run scared. Quite right, he has nothing to offer for his continued support of the EU project to make our country subservient to the EU (and the U.S. wishes).

      1. Dame Rita Webb
        January 9, 2015

        Its a good job for Dave that there is not a debate now. Imagine him trying to explain away that the UK is a more secure place now with more than 10,000 coppers less than there was in 2010. Failed on the deficit, failed on the immigration target, is there anything that he has managed to successfully achieve that benefits the vast bulk of the population?

        1. Timaction
          January 9, 2015

          The continued rise in Islamic extremism will continue whilst we have weak politically correct leaders. No judge led inquiry for this or other forms of extreme behaviour with English women. Why not? We need to find solutions not cover ups.
          The Police bill is less than £8.5 billion for England and Wales yet have been told they will get a 5% cut this year. The Foreign Aid bill is £12 billion and rising and the EU net payment was £14.8 billion last year and rising. For what?
          The British public have had enough of the legacy parties and there will be changes on the way we are Governed. People are waking up to the lies and manipulation of the legacy parties.

        2. Lifelogic
          January 9, 2015

          “is there anything that he has managed to successfully achieve that benefits the vast bulk of the population?”

          The M4 bus lane and lefties can not longer decide to legally squat in your house when you go out.

      2. Lifelogic
        January 9, 2015

        His best way of winning the election is to appear in the debate without the greens and answer each question by saying on this point I agree with Nigel Farage.

        If Cameron took the Farage line on the EU, open door immigration, grammar schools, the size of the state sector, HS2, the need to cut regulations, cheap energy and the greencrap …… ….. he would probably win the election despite the fact that he failed to get a level playing field from the Libdums.

        I see Cameron is even now knocking Farage for making perfectly sensible statements about the appalling murders in Paris! Has he learned nothing from his fruit cakes and closet racists statement? It is Cameron EU immigration good all other immigration bad that is clearly racist.

        1. Hope
          January 9, 2015

          Tebbit agrees with Nigel even if he considered his comments blunt. Look at LibDem Voice and see who who you agree with. Or to that extent Teresa May!

        2. Anonymous
          January 9, 2015

          Knocking Farage ? The only politician resonating with the general public attitude over the oppression of normal opinion ?

          Keep it up, Dave !

      3. Mondeo Man
        January 9, 2015

        Farage now has to face FOUR hostile panelists, a partisan chairman, a couple of shouty left wingers in the audience…

        THAT’s not a leader’s debate ! Just a typical night on Question Time for Farage.

        He’ll rip these lightweights up for arse paper !

        No wonder Cameron needs the Greeny attack dog on his side !

        1. Mondeo Man
          January 9, 2015

          I know why Cameron’s trying to get this Greeny wild cat on the panel – so that it can be thrown in Farage’s face and the LibLabCon co-conspirators can look all statesmanly while Farage tries to fight it off.

          I’d LOVE to see a straight one-on-one between Farage and Cameron.

          As they’re meant to be arguing over the same turf why ever not ?

          1. Timaction
            January 10, 2015

            Cameron has shown he is NOT the brightest button in the box but even HE would know that he has zero chance of winning any debate with Farage. What’s he going to say the usual stuff? Markets? 3 million jobs at risk? A voice in the world/top table? Working together to compete against larger blocks? Trade wars? Free movement is good for us? All guff!

    2. agricola
      January 9, 2015

      I still await the publishing of my main contribution on this subject.

      You are on the money with the inclusion of Farage in any debate. They are terrified of his clear logical argument, so they run away. Yesterday they all tried to vilify him after a very sensible appraisal of the terrorist situation in the UK and Europe. If he is wrong, then who are MI5 and GCHQ pursuing and watching. I am afraid we are led by a bunch of headless chickens.

    3. Richard
      January 9, 2015

      Mr. Cameron does not need to attend any TV debates.

      The major policies to continue with EU membership, mass immigration (both EU and non-EU), the Climate Change Act, foreign aid etc. are all those upon which the majority of MPs in the Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem and Green Parties agree.

      So really there needs to be just a debate between UKIP and one member from one of these four parties.

      So important are these policies, particularly the continued membership of the EU, that should UKIP become the third largest party after the next GE then I can even see a Conservative/Labour coalition to lock out UKIP and prevent any chance of an EU referendum.

  5. Richard1
    January 9, 2015

    Hmm. We don’t have the Euro but Conservative + Labour are c 65%. Also, there doesn’t seem to be a popular movement in the eurozone to dismantle the Euro.

  6. James Winfield
    January 9, 2015

    Is it the Euro?

    We also have something here with UKIP on the right and the Greens on the left. If the Lib Dems were not in government, it would be interesting to see how Labour’s vote share would have held up.

    I would prefer to point the finger at the general anti-politics mood, the internet and the deep recessions that many of the countries mentioned have had.

    1. Lifelogic
      January 9, 2015

      UKIP on the right and Lib/Lab/Con/SNP/Greens/Plaid Cymru/BBC/state sector unions all on the pro EU left.

      The left is needless to say, wrong on every issue:- EU, expensive energy, tax levels, over regulation, the size of the state, the green crap, grammar schools, the NHS ……

      1. fedupsouthener
        January 9, 2015

        Agree. We don’t need the left. More expensive energy will cripple this country. We also don’t need to invite the SNP to the debate. They are not representative of the UK. Their only interest lies in Scotland and the rest of the country can hang.

      2. peter davies
        January 9, 2015

        UKIP on the right? In the South of England maybe but they are also being hijacked by the left in parts of the UK

      3. Timaction
        January 9, 2015

        UKIP isn’t left or right, just common sense policies that benefit the British people.
        They don’t support a foreign rule like our legacy party leaders and establishment.
        I see Mr Cameron had his instructions on free movement form our Chancellor yesterday and he’s turned once more!

    2. agricola
      January 9, 2015

      The Euro is a one size fits all system of constraint that has been applied to 27 very diverse economies. The result is politically unsustainable unemployment across most of southern Europe.

      I see UKIP as articulating the aspirations of the population both left and right. Their opponents would like to put them well to the right because it is then easier to vilify them. The Conservatives, less about 100 MPs, plus all other UK parties I see in degrees of leftish leaning.

    3. Anonymous
      January 9, 2015

      The Left are wrong on every issue because economic success makes them redundant.

  7. alan jutson
    January 9, 2015

    Yes the World is changing John, but the traditional Parties are not moving with the times, whereas the people are trying to.

    The big problems will become larger if the people become dissatisfied with the rate of change, or the frustration that the new parties cannot get any sort of sensible representative power, even when they poll in the millions.

    Civil unrest may well happen in due course, if the EU, and other countries around the World continue to ignore the peoples wishes.

    I fear the World in general is set to become a rather more volatile place in a few years time if complacent politicians do not wise up soon, because history shows that frustrated voters can, after years of being ignored, eventually and unfortunately turn to rather more extreme political leaders to effect change.

    Politicians of all Parties need to wise up and stop promising what we simply cannot afford.

    1. Bernard from Bucks
      January 9, 2015

      “the frustration that the new parties cannot get any sort of sensible representative power, even when they poll in the millions.”
      The system is heavily weighted to oppose any new party, anywhere in the political spectrum.
      If someone suggests boundary changes to make things fairer – it gets thrown out.
      Suggest political reform – nothing gets done.
      The ‘big boys’ like to maintain the status quo; it suits them fine.
      But for millions of people to feel that they have no genuine representation and that their views ignored, is a recipe for disaster.
      And I can feel a disaster coming on, not only in Europe but also in the UK.

    2. Anonymous
      January 9, 2015

      It’s like Westminster is operating in a parallel universe

      Weird. Just weird. The deluded and the schizophrenic behaving as though things are normal out here.

      Wilfully ignorant of such rapid changes.

      They talk, plan and forcast as though they have any control over the things that are happening.

      The only time they’re strong is when they slap down their own people for daring to speak out of turn and pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes.

      More votes for Farage every time they do it.

  8. Hefner
    January 9, 2015

    Sorry JR., but that’s just another example of a post based on a rather limited UK-centric world view!

    With first past the post, this two party view is roughly correct. With another voting system, it is simply not true, look at France, Germany, Italy, Spain before the arrival of the euro, from the 60’s to the 80’s and there were more two parties competing for votes.
    I would claim that the neoliberal model you have been advocating for more than twenty years has as much to do with the state of the European politics as the euro has.

  9. oldtimer
    January 9, 2015

    An interesting analysis. In the EZ members, the euro seems to be seen as a comfort blanket. The rise of new parties, I suspect, is driven by the increasing powerlessness of the traditional parties who have abdicated power to the unaccountable Brussels bureaucracy. The effective imposition of new governments in Greece and Italy by Brussels only serves to reinforce this fact.

  10. Gary
    January 9, 2015

    if the euro is destroying dinosaur political parties who line up to transfer wealth to the financial elite, I say bring it on.

    Actually, it is the internet that is not only destroying the parties but also the status quo. For the first time people see behind the curtain and they are disgusted.

    The genie is out.

  11. Peter van Leeuwen
    January 9, 2015

    Doesn’t the urge to blame the euro for everything under the sun becomes a bit exaggerated here? Political parties and their programmes reflect the “flavours” to chose from when people vote. In countries like the Netherlands there have always (well, since 1918) been numerous parties to chose from (say between 8 and 12) and as such a good reflection of popular opinion is ensured in its representation. In countries with a threshold (Germany – 5%) the number of parties was smaller. In countries with a FPTP system (in my view less representative and thus less democratic), the threshold for new political flavour is much much higher (UKIP taking more than 20 years to have its voice heard in parliament), but even in the non-euro UK a certain fragmentation of the vote in 2015 is not impossible. I imagine that many more factors play a role than just the austerity-brought hardship and I would find it cheap just to blame the euro.

    Reply France, Germany, Greece and Spain had two main parties which tended to alternate in office, sometimes with junior partners in coalition as in the UK.

    1. Max Dunbar
      January 9, 2015

      Reply to reply: In the second half of the twentieth century Spain was under dictatorship until 1975, and Greece was unstable and also ruled by dictatorship in the 60s and 70s.

    2. petermartin2001
      January 9, 2015

      but even in the non-euro UK a certain fragmentation of the vote in 2015 is not impossible. I imagine that many more factors play a role than just the austerity-brought hardship and I would find it cheap just to blame the euro

      The UK may not be in the Euro but the common currency is still causing a lot of problems outside the Eurozone. Like the UK having to cope with an influx of refugees for example!

      How well do you think the Dutch and German people understand the dynamics of the Euro? Do they understand that, in the absence of the necessary financial mechanism and infrastructure to make a common currency work, such as there is in the USA, it is inevitable that the less developed regions of the EU, or indeed any region which isn’t a large net exporter, is bound to suffer and experience the kind of recessionary problems and levels of high unemployment we see in Spain and Greece. And, are now starting to see in Italy and France too?

      Or, do they think that there’s nothing wrong with the Euro? Do they reason that if it works for them then it can work for everyone else too? I think you know this is indeed what most German and Dutch people say. What they are really saying is that if Germany can run a 7% trade surplus and the Netherlands can run a 10% trade surplus then so can everyone else if only they were just as disciplined as they are.

      Don’t they see the flaw in this “logic”?

    3. Hefner
      January 10, 2015

      An alternate view from the host’s:

      Dunleavy and Gilson, 2010: How unfair and disproportionate is the UK’s voting system? British Politics and Policy at LSE. available from

      but obviously “give a dog a bad name and him” or more precisely “qui veut noyer son chien l’accuse de la rage”.

      And as noted in other posts, how can this Euro-based analysis explain a similar situation in the UK?

  12. Stephen O
    January 9, 2015

    Surely this means greater political instability in Europe. The challenger parties may differ greatly, but I think the effect of their rise will make deal making within the EU more difficult, in the short term.

    I think how successful the UK is at getting a good, new deal (whether from the inside or outside) will greatly depend on its timing. Currently the EU is locked in a stalemate, but if political instability grows there may come a point when fundamental change becomes inevitable and then a better deal would be possible.

  13. DaveM
    January 9, 2015

    It’s not just the Euro though, is it John? The Euro might be a trigger, but it could easily have been something else. It’s what the Euro represents – German controlled socialist euro-federalism with its associated forcibly-imposed mass migration and forced cultural change.

    The people of western Europe have always yearned for true democracy. The autocratic monarchies were overthrown in the 19th century – our monarchy only survived because it adapted; any English or British king who thought himself an absolute ruler was either overthrown or forced to abdicate. The fascist and communist movements were rejected when they were no longer needed to sort out national crises on the continent.

    Ultimately, people want a strong leader in a time of crisis, and hands-off government when things are good. And they want a government that understands their wants and needs, not one that tells them what their wants and needs are supposed to be!!
    With the EU and its centrist parties we have none of those things. We have a bunch of wishy-washy career politicians who cannot recognise the needs of the people and who are unable to get a grip when things go bad. Until the centrist parties start doing what politicians are meant to do – ie. assist people rather than trying to bend them to their will, the populist movements will continue to grow in popularity. Say what they like about Farage (and they do – apparently it’s totally acceptable to judge and slate someone who threatens you if you’re LabCon), people identify with him. No-one can identify with Cameron or Miliband.

    The vile events of the past couple of days have shown the solidarity of the people of Europe. There is no appetite for any kind of conflict – we just want our politicians to sort out our countries and stop wasting OUR money on stupid unwanted projects. Let us get on with our jobs and pay our taxes – you lot stop chasing the unwanted socio-political behemoth which is the EU, and we’ll be just fine.

    You didn’t mention the PEGIDA movement (largely ignored by the EUBC). Apparently only 1 in 8 people would “turn out on a march”. Take away the young, the old, the infirm, the junkies and those who just don’t give a toss and that ratio would change somewhat. Lots of sympathy for them in France, Holland, the UK, and Italy too. Once again I repeat – the EU and its loony policies and social engineering are uniting the people of Europe like never before – against the EU.

    OT – Cameron ducking TV debates with spurious excuses about the Greens? Political suicide.

    Reply If so many people identify with Mr Farage why is UKIP on 17% and the Conservatives double that on 34%?

  14. Margaret Brandreth-J
    January 9, 2015

    People often stay in abusive reltionships because it is the only security they have and it takes courage to venture out.

  15. Narrow Shoulders
    January 9, 2015

    I think that membership of the Euro has little to do with the main trend of movement away from main stream parties although it may exaggerate the effect.

    The demos is aware that whichever of the main parties are voted in life will go on much the same, the establishment is after all the establishment so nothing changes. Membership of the Euro makes austerity more punitive as other levers are unavailable and the austerity is seen as being imposed from afar but the main parties are complicit.

    When a voter can not effect the overall way a countty is run he will inevitability look for single issue parties who may make his voice heard.

    2015 is the time for special interest groups/parties. They will not get many seats due to FPTP and scaremongering by the establishment but they will certainly make things uncomfortable for the mainstream and may open a few more cans of worms of injustices conferred upon the majority to satisfy political dogma or vote buying.

  16. forthurst
    January 9, 2015

    “…none of the challenger parties outside Germany want to get out of the Euro anyway.”

    Front National in France wishes to destroy the EU and return to a Europe of nation states. “The EU is deeply harmful, it is an anti-democratic monster.” Marine le Pen.

    1. Andy
      January 9, 2015

      Well she’s not wrong on that one. And considering the evil events in Paris this week I would say she has a fair wind to gain the French Presidency. Oh what fun.

    2. DaveM
      January 9, 2015

      Mme LePen, like Mr Farage, has demonstrated perfectly that a large presence of Eurosceptics in the EP can make no difference to the autocratic dictatorship of the Commission and Council.

      The centrists hark back to 1930s style fascism and try to tar the modern nationalist parties with the same brush. The people of Europe can see through that tar though, and they know who the real totalitarians are – modern centrists are wolves in very thin sheep’s clothing.

      Change is coming…

  17. formula57
    January 9, 2015

    Alas, “none of the challenger parties outside Germany want to get out of the Euro” because typically the Euro seems to be seen as some sort of guarantee of well-being, both economically and politically, whereas of course the opposite is true. (Also, I recall Marine Le Pen has called for exit from the Euro by France.)

    1. formula57
      January 9, 2015

      And in Italy too – for now I check, Bepe Grillo’s Five Star movement seeks Euro exit, petitioning for a referendum.

  18. Brian Tomkinson
    January 9, 2015

    JR: “The interesting question is why do these traditional parties across the zone remain so keen on the whole project….”
    Perhaps you would give us the answer to that on behalf of the Westminster triumvirate which is determined to keep us imprisoned in the anti-democratic foreign organisation called the EU? For decades I have wondered why people stand for the UK Parliament and when elected are dedicated to passing the powers, with which they were temporarily entrusted, to the EU without the specific consent of those to whom they were meant to serve.

  19. agricola
    January 9, 2015

    When looking at the situation ,particularly in Southern Europe, you need to differentiate between what the people are saying (The Polls) and what governing parties are saying and doing. Governing parties are part of an extensive dependency culture that has grown out of the Euro and are happy because it pays some of the bills. The people are the victims of the Euro and are protesting to the detriment of the governing parties by supporting new parties.

    You do not mention the UK where the same is happening. Not because of the Euro but because of the abject surrendering of British sovereignty to a foreign, unelected, undemocratic power. Your nemesis UKIP are the beneficiaries.

    That is the situation in a nutshell. Perhaps we can now discuss your leaders refusal to enter into public debate with UKIP on the grounds that if the Green Party will not take part then neither will the conservatives. As all the current governing parties plus Labour are green to their armpits, and charging the people and industry for the privilege, the extra opinions of a one member Green Party are almost irrelevant. I think CMD is running scared and looking for an excuse.

    Yesterday’s attempted vilification, by the three main parties, of Nigel Farage for stating the obvious on the subject of terrorism in Europe has already backfired in terms of public comment. If there is not a fifth column of terrorism in various forms in centres throughout Europe and the UK who are MI5 and GCHQ maintaining surveillance upon. It would seem to me that our three party leaders need to join the real world and cease mixing their pre election politicking with the security of the country. They made themselves look very foolish yesterday.

  20. Old Albion
    January 9, 2015

    So what you are saying JR is; Germany is controlling much of Europe. etc ed

    1. formula57
      January 9, 2015

      So Nicholas Ridley might well have been right when he said in 1990 that monetary union was “a German racket designed to take over the whole of Europe”.

      The interesting question, given the outcome was so predictable, is what did the Germans expect to do with their new domain – and what do they really think now?

      1. Denis Cooper
        January 9, 2015

        You have to recollect that it was repeatedly claimed by the pro-euro faction that the introduction of a single currency would lead to an accelerated convergence of the economies of all the participating countries, so that very soon all of them could comfortably share the same currency and everything would be hunky-dory. In fact it wasn’t long before the FT was running an editorial saying that the opposite was happening, some of the economies were diverging, not converging. But none of this really matters, because the euro has always been above all else a political project and the economic and financial considerations were always regarded as being of secondary importance, and indeed that is still the case now.

      2. Andy
        January 9, 2015

        Of course he was right. However, I’m not sure the Germans thought it would pan out quite as it has done. Serves them right I suppose: they should have read Bernard Connolly.

        And it will probably get to be more of a nightmare for them, especially if the United Kingdom leaves. Ruling Europe has been a German ambition since 1871. Somehow I think they will come to bitterly regret the ambition.

  21. A.Sedgwick
    January 9, 2015

    It is not surprising when it is the old parties that got us all into the mess that is the EU.

    1. Denis Cooper
      January 9, 2015

      Correct. If the current leaders of a political party openly admit that it made awful policy errors in the recent past then that will tend to damage the reputation of the party and harm its future electoral prospects; so they will usually try to continue with the pretence that their own policy was fine, and make every possible effort to shift the blame onto rival political parties, or even onto other actors such as foreign governments or the bond markets; as I recall for Harold Wilson it was the “Gnomes of Zurich” who had maliciously undone the excellent economic policies of his Labour government.

  22. Alan Wheatley
    January 9, 2015

    As to “why?”, one reason is that once a particular mindset becomes entrenched it is extremely difficult to abandon it, and if the mindset is ideological rather than analytical changing is even harder. In the EU we see this not just in the Eurozone. Further, humans are not very good at admitting to themselves that they were wrong.

    For example, in the UK a change of direction usually requires a change of government.

    There is also the question of the alternative. For most of the countries that have joined the EU, especially in recent years, it offered the hope of something much better than their experiences as countries under ineffective self-government, especially where “self” was barely an appropriate description. The UK is not and never has been in that position, and is the main reason why our membership of the EU, and even more so the Eurozone, simply does not fit.

  23. margaret brandreth-j
    January 9, 2015

    The really important thing which should unite Europe and this aspect needs to be a whole hearted united approach must be an all together attempt to tighten border controls and limit terrorist attacks.

    1. Brian Tomkinson
      January 9, 2015

      Dream on.

      1. Margaret Brandreth-J
        January 9, 2015

        So you want free terrorist wanderers all over Europe?

  24. Iain Moore
    January 9, 2015

    If the Euro is the root of problems for major political parties ion the continent, what’s the excuse for what is happening here?

    Its not the Euro, its the EU that is the problem. Brussels has hollowed out democracies to such an extent that people have noticed. They have noticed how ineffectual the political class are now, and that the political class rather than representing our interests, are there to represent Brussels interests to us.

    Just look at Cameron’s immigration policy, he didn’t represent our interests, he went and asked Merkel and co what would be acceptable to them, then presented that policy to us.

    Is it any wonder people are looking for alternatives?

  25. Bert Young
    January 9, 2015

    The blog this am clearly shoes that in all the EU countries referred to a new political group has emerged . In each case the new group has acquired a significant %ge of the vote (or voters intentions) ; this clearly shows the mood for change and the disgruntlement with traditional parties . In the UK we are witnessing the same state of affairs with UKIP the emerging group .
    There is no doubt that Farage has stirred things up and provided an alternative choice ; the EU and the introduction of the Euro has failed and UKIP is fronting up on this . Each of our traditional parties have MPs who share the same views as UKIP but are tied by oath and tradition not to “come out”.
    I would like to witness an electoral system that enabled each candidate to stand on their own rather than party lines . Post election the result would require groups to come together who shared similar views and elect a “leader”. Elections that are fronted by a leader who may be very unpopular have a large influence on where the”X” is put . I consider the party system to be seriously flawed as it presently stands .
    The Euro certainly has exposed great differences in the Union and is forcing each of the member countries to seek a solution . Germany has done well by it and should now stake its wealth on its continuation or allow it to break up .

  26. John E
    January 9, 2015

    The elite that created the Euro is unable to do what is needed – acknowledge their mistakes and kill their defining project. Therefore it is up to the voters to elect politicians who will make the changes necessary.
    We are seeing different spectres emerging from the cupboards in each nation, whether communists in Greece or the FN in France. The French political impasse plus current events may well let Madame Le Pen in. She would take France out of the Euro for sure.

    1. fedupsouthener
      January 9, 2015

      The terrible events in Paris might give Le Pen the edge. Europe is becoming unstable and this is exactly what the EU was supposed to prevent. It is obvious it is not working and we should get out.

    2. acorn
      January 9, 2015

      You could make a good case for Greece to exit the Eurozone and seek debt forgiveness. A lot of Greek government debt is held outside of Greece so foreigners and their banks would squeal a bit. Just think what going back to the Drachma would do for the Greek tourist trade; and, that little beach side property you just loved when you were down there on holiday last.

      I reckon the plan is, stay IN the Euro and blow up the “stability and growth pact”. Syriza’s treasury guy will say “up yours troika” with your 3% fiscal deficit limit, I am upping it to 12% for a while. Can you imagine if it works, (keeping an eye on domestic sectoral inflation with appropriate taxation to prevent bubbles forming); the Italians and Spanish may jump in as well. The Germans would have kittens, the ECB nightmares.

      It will be interesting to see if the ECB goes for QE. European firms tend to borrow from banks not capital markets, so QE will be even less effective for the real economy than it has been elsewhere. QE benefits the wealthiest households and “risk free” savers, that hold most financial assets, but they are the least likely to go out and spend it on job creating products. They may buy another Picasso or such

    3. agricola
      January 9, 2015

      Let’s hope Greece gets a government that is prepared to trash the Euro and then hope for a domino effect on the other down beaten people of Southern Europe.

    4. peter davies
      January 9, 2015

      The problem is that people now making the big decisions are more often than not unelected. Maybe appointed by elected politicians but too many steps away for people to be able to do anything about it.

  27. libertarian
    January 9, 2015


    Its not just the Eurozone, this is a paradigm shift as profound in scale as the Industrial Revolution. Facilitated by new technology innovation we are moving away from the historically short lived multimega institution to smaller and more human organisations. 99.2% of all enterprises are SME’s, the EU, ALL political parties everywhere, mass media print, radio and TV are in commercial meltdown as are all the old style 20th century mega banks.

    The future is small and human. This will have a profound effect on politics, but because politicians and political parties are the last people to spot new trends and innovations and because they are so incredibly bad at changing themselves this will cause pain.

    The future for politics is iDemocracy , mix and match manifestos and far more local control

    1. oldtimer
      January 9, 2015

      You make an interesting point. By coincidence I have just been reading Dr Tim Morgan`s analysis (published on his blog last October/November) on the subject of the decline of right vs left politics. His thesis is that it is more accurate to think in terms of libertarianism vs corporatism in which the latter clearly has the upper hand. On his definition corporatism embraces the big global businesses, NGOs, state enterprises and international institutions such as the EU. The traditional parties of right and left are complicit in, and have helped create and nurture the corporatist state – that is why they are terrified of any referendum.

      It seems to me that he makes a powerful case. The rise and rise of corporatism (in its many forms) has contributed to the decline and irrelevance of the old right-left dichotomies. On this analysis, the euros contribution to the process is as a sympton of the EU`s corporatist agenda.

    2. agricola
      January 9, 2015

      Yes quite right, Douglas Carswell elucidated this very well in his book “The End of Politics” written well before he moved to UKIP.

  28. Roy Grainger
    January 9, 2015

    As has been noted above the vote & poll share of the two main parties in UK is in rapid decline too.

    “The interesting question is why do these traditional parties across the zone remain so keen on the whole project”. Not sure – maybe for historical reasons for the large countries, Italy and Germany were created from a federations of smaller states and so are comfortable with the concept, and France has always had a tradition of centralised government by the remote elite. More inexplicable is why Mr Cameron and his pro-EU wing of the Conservative party are so enthusiastic about it.

  29. james c
    January 9, 2015

    John, that piece interested me, especially your comment that none of the challenger parties are opposed to the Euro.

    It seems to me that the public in the Eurozone countries have become angry at the terrible state of the economy, but do not understand the cause or what is required for a solution.

    Thus, we have the unfortunate situation of mainstream European parties which are committed to the status quo and populist figures, who channel the anger to their own ends.

    To my mind, it doesn’t bode well.

    1. Andy
      January 9, 2015

      I was at a dinner party in Greece in October and every single Greek around the table would not contemplate leaving the Euro and they all thought I was mad to suggest that it was the root of their problems. They just didn’t and wouldn’t connect up the dots. Nor could they quite understand their own part in creating the mess – borrowing money they could never repay. There was a massive case of ‘transferance’ – it was the fault of the Politican’s, conveniently ignoring the fact that they all voted for them !; the Germans, naturally and of course that old favourite ‘Bankers’. Makes you want to weep.

  30. Bill
    January 9, 2015

    I my view, if you want to know how things may turn out, you need to poll young people. What you find is that many of them have turned away from politics into their own social and entertainment worlds. Many feel that the previous generation – the post-1945 bulge generation – has messed things up both in relation to the environment and in relation to the banking system. This is why you find sloganising anti-capitalism in the Occupy movement and the half-baked outpourings of Russell Brand. The anti-Europeans are generally made up from ill-educated working class men who feel their jobs are being taken by immigrants. By contrast well-educated young women who work in bureaucracies of all kinds see Europe as ‘an opportunity’ and like it. Their values are vaguely along the lines of human rights, green-ism, law and order, family (of all types), and self-expression.

    The traditional left which wanted public ownership and heavy unionisation is still there but does not have the old manufacturing industries from which to recruit. The post-1980 right is entrepreneurial but attached to business rather than the ownership of land. I think the old left-right allegiances are still there but everything is infused by a philosophy of individualism.

  31. ian wragg
    January 9, 2015

    I think it’s becoming apparent to most of the Euro zone that the Euro is a German scam which is bankrupting many of the nations.
    Germany trying to insist Greece, Italy etc run a trade surplus as they do is stupid as trade must ultimately balance.
    If we pull out of the EU does anyone seriously think the remaining countries will stop trading with us.
    Today I have been to a UKIP meeting and it’s refreshing for questions to be answered and common sense spoken after the rubbish from our local LibLabCon wannabe’s.
    People are at last wakening up to the damage your parties are doing.

  32. Denis Cooper
    January 9, 2015

    Well, for some countries it’s primarily about austerity, widespread genuine material hardship rather than the faux austerity we have here, in some but not all cases at least exacerbated if not actually caused by the euro; but for some other countries it’s also or even primarily the EU-driven national government policy of allowing and encouraging mass immigration contrary to the wishes of the great majority of the existing body of citizens. Why should the citizens keep voting for politicians who insist on giving away free shares in their country to multitudes of foreigners, even when it is perfectly clear that most of the citizens do not agree with this, correctly seeing far more harm coming from it than any putative benefits to themselves; they never wanted it started, and at the least they want a government which will stop it, with a minority of them even wanting a government which would take effective steps, however inhumane, to reverse much of the past immigration, not only the illegal but also the legal immigration?

  33. peter davies
    January 9, 2015

    Its a strange scenario across the board. Not just the EZ but the UK as well. On one hand you get the feeling that if the UK was given the option of leaving the EU tomorrow, most would take it, yet on the other we have a useless socialist party which has almost consistently led in polls over the last few years despite the huge problems they have helped create in the economy, immigration and democracy itself.

    It seems that whilst there is a huge dislike of the EU drip drip power grab we have people to want the same things fighting and arguing with each other – classic divide and rule

  34. Martyn G
    January 9, 2015

    John, you say “The interesting question is why do these traditional parties across the zone remain so keen on the whole project….”
    I think that it is because they either know or are afraid of the fact that they are impotent to do so because of the way the EU works. Its beaurocracy and mandarins have now become the unelected ruling class, ever more entrenched and determined to the point where democratically elected leaders, no matter how strong or secure they are in their own nations, cannot control it and it remains virtually unassailable and undemocratic. The USSR collapsed because nothing worked any more and just like the EU its ruling unelected bureaucracy was so far removed from the people, top-happy, out of touch with the real world and so inefficient that when a crisis arose it all collapsed around them.
    It may well be that at some point we shall see the EU going the same way.

  35. Atlas
    January 9, 2015

    Mmm, yes, John, the structure of the EU is a recipe for disaster that is slowly coming to the boil.

  36. Gumpy Goat
    January 9, 2015

    Yep blame every thing on the euro we did not have a white Christmas the euro’s fault…..

    1. Denis Cooper
      January 9, 2015

      I for one don’t blame everything on the euro, but so far JR has declined to publish my comment saying that. As for the absence of a white Christmas, I mainly blame the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar; if we had stuck with the old calendar then Christmas Day would have fallen just two days ago, and the chance of snow would have been much higher.

  37. ian
    January 9, 2015

    Economic crisis means political crisis, all the fiddling and promises seen for what they are, so people want chanage but the politician will not give them chanage because of the people they are really looking after will lose a lot of money and jobs like quangos.
    2002 the enron crisis, ceo and others lock up for flawed accounting, 2003 new laws come in to make sure it does not happen again. 2008 mark to market abolished enron accounting come back as standard to keep the politician and friends at the top. No more looking into companies books. Everything up up and away as politicians make there friends more money than they could of dream for as the people share go down and down with wages cuts and so on. Now the politician want you to vote again for more of the same. What education and rest of it got do with it i do not no. It just politician keeping money going to the same places as always that”s there job. That”s why you can never get a straight answer from them they hide multitude of secrets from you. That”s why you do not understand what they are talking about because they have to hide the truth about who they are working for.

  38. ian
    January 9, 2015

    The rich went mad when they came a cross enron accounting and heads rolled now they love it

  39. waramess
    January 9, 2015

    Just maybe it is because the politicians are too busy trying to preach to the electorate that they are not listening.

    In Greece Italy and Spain the burning issue is austerity which the electorate blame for the high unemployment.

    Elsewhere the imperitive is immigration.

    It is clear the politicians don’t like the message and want to reassure the electorate that immigration is overall beneficial but they are not believed. Racial tension is an ugly monster but it is the politicians that have unleashed it.
    (words left out ed)
    Politicians need to wake up and smell the coffee. It is neither Farage that is the problem nor UKIP they are just the messengers, the message is from a growing number of the electorate, and complacency is not the answer .

    The EU is important but not on the “must have” agenda of most voters and the NHS is of importance but immigration is seen as being of most immediate importance and really does need to be handled differently if the mainstream parties wish to retain the initiative..

  40. Denis Cooper
    January 9, 2015

    Oh look, the UK government is in the forefront in wanting the EU Foreign Service, the one that the Tory leaders previously said should not even exist, when their party was in opposition not in government, to protect us from vile Russian propaganda and spread pro-EU propaganda:

    “UK, Denmark back pro-EU media plan”

    1. stred
      January 11, 2015

      How odd that the EU now proposes to set up an equivalent to the Voice of America in order to counteract Russia Today, who run such stories as the German dependence on coal to provide base electricity to back up wind and solar and is BASF relocating to the US. They can rely on the BBC to keep quiet on this but the stories may be seen by a minority and need to be counteracted.

      The Voice of America was intended to counter the communist threat in Eastern Europe, with their propaganda stations in Moscow and Albania. Then NATO was based in West Germany and their to counter a strong communist force in the East. Now the EU has taken over most of these countries and we have a war in Ukraine after the takeover has been extended, while our PM would like the EU to reach the Urals.

      Most amazing is that the new head of NATO, backed by Mrs Merkel is Mr Jens Stoltenberg, ex Norwegian Labour PM, (etc – unchecked allegations removed ed)

      1. stred
        January 12, 2015

        Sorry. There not their. The story about Stoltenberg’s political past are all on the Wiki sites. Quite an amazing movement from opposing Nato (etc ed), to winding up heading it. I hope you will check and allow it.

  41. Jon
    January 9, 2015

    I think we all knew the EU project was to homogenize it’s population. However, instead of a 200 year timeline, they wanted it done in a generation or two.

    One definition of homogenization is “any of several processes used to make a mixture of two mutually non-soluble liquids the same throughout”.

    With people that means a loss of identity and control if done quicker than integration being allowed to form naturally.

    The rise of the SNP, a feeling there of control and identity but no real answers to the big questions but delivered a feeling of control and identity I expect.

    Many politicians extol the virtues of multiculturalism, note that they don’t say homogenisation. You cannot virtues of multicultural unless you extol the virtue of fragmentation, without that there is mono culture.

    If you visit the Alpine huts near Chamonix, there are no boarders to cross. It’s not until you enter the mountain huts that you realize you crossed a boarder and are in either France Italy or Switzerland. Not the the accent but the ambiance of each is so different.

    There is an irony with those that worship the quick homogenization of Europeans and further afield, they praise the diversity whilst wanting to rid the world of that same richness and diversity.

    I don’t think I’ll see this one resolved in my lifetime and am and will be very thankful for that!

    1. Jon
      January 9, 2015

      The access to power and decisions seems good in the EU but I don’t see the successful homogenization of the Europeans as they envisage, the Germans with Greeks. It’s been tried, China, Russia, North Korea, I don’t see it lasting without a massive re think of what the EU is there to achieve.

  42. Lindsay McDougall
    January 9, 2015

    Greece will not be allowed to default and stay in the Euro zone. It will be thrown out.

    Italy’s GDP has not grown for years, its state debt is 133% of GDP and rising, and Italy is a large economy. What are ECB, German and Italian proposals for dealing with the situation?

    If Germany permits the ECB to buy Greek and Italian bonds, even at market rates, then Mrs Merkel’s support in Germany will plummet.

    1. Denis Cooper
      January 10, 2015

      Wake up, Greece has already defaulted and the ECB has already bought the bonds issued by the governments of distressed eurozone countries, and Merkel has won an election since then.

      1. Lindsay McDougall
        January 12, 2015

        The next Greek default would be unilateral if the left wingers win. They would attempt to retain the Euro nevertheless. Expect trouble.

  43. Mike Stallard
    January 10, 2015

    The leaders of the unelected Commission all are sworn in to work as Europeans. The theme is More Europe until we are all part of a unitary state.
    The people of Southern Europe and Germany, as you say, are getting more and more unhappy with this arrangement.
    There is bound, sooner or later, to be a clash.
    After the clash – which could be very bloody indeed – the road will be open for a Stalin, a Bismarck, an Enver Hoxha, a Ceausescu. The constitution of European Union with its sham parliament, its weak council of ministers and its unelected committee of second raters is wide open for this.

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