Those parties the electorate would destroy, they first drive into coalition. There is a very European pattern of political change. The traditional establishment parties of the centre left and centre right become unpopular in government, they are driven into coalition, and the junior partners in the coalition often become extremely unpopular as a result. Mrs Merkel’s Free Democrat partners are no longer a force in German politics, and her latest partnership with the SPD in grand coalition is harming their electoral appeal.
The bigger issue is the ability of the Euro and the EU scheme to drive the traditional parties out of government, and then to leave them struggling as minor parties with very few seats. Normally when a political party discovers than one of its main propositions is unpopular it changes its view and seeks to get back in favour with electors. To win again Labour in 1997 had to accept Conservative tax rates and spending plans. To win in 2010 Conservatives accepted the minimum wage and social legislation put through by Labour. What is odd is that time and again the strictures of EU and Euro economic policy, generating high unemployment and little or no growth, are rejected by electors only to be upheld as policy by the traditional parties that suffer from the backlash.
The fall in support has been massive for several of the leading continental parties. In Germany the Labour party equivalent, the SPD used to be able to win more than 40% of the vote and form a government. Today it languishes on 22% in the polls. In Italy the PdL centre right party won 37.4% of the vote in 2008. In 2013 this had fallen to 21.6%. Their left of centre opponents, the PD, also fell from 33.2% to 25.4%.
In Spain the centre right party PP fell from 44.6% in 2011 to 33% in 2015, whilst the centre left PSOE fell from 43.9% in 2008 to 22.6%. Worst of all has been the performance of the traditional parties in Greece, where the economic crisis has been the most intense. There Pasok, the Labour party equivalent, collapsed from 44% in 2009 to just 6% in 2015.The centre right New Democracy fared a bit better, falling from 45% in 2004 to 28% in 2015.
In each of these cases the old cycle of government switching between the centre right and centre left depending on economic performance and political skill has been decisively broken. Both main parties in each of these countries has backed the Euro and the full EU scheme. All have supported and defended it continuously, claiming there is no alternative. The electors disagree, and are busy searching for an alternative that might break out of banking troubles, low or no growth and high unemployment.
I just do not understand why once great political parties accept these policies, when they are so clearly life threatening to them as election winning organisations. Why have the normal rules of politics been suspended by the EU? Why don’t these parties want to improve the lot of their electors and get back in touch with their former supporters?