Does the Euro area still need or want stable national governments?

After several months Germany has put together a precarious coalition between the CDU, CSU and SPD. Like many Eurozone countries the old system of two main parties offering a centre left or a centre right alternative has broken down. Voters now vote for a wide array of different parties, and the politicians stumble to put together a government after the election. The one thing they can guarantee is no voter will get the government they voted for.

The progressive decline of the Christian Democrat/Social Democrat choice that was the continental version of Conservative against Labour is now well advanced everywhere in Euroland. In Greece Syriza has blown away the traditional socialist party altogether. New Democracy, the centre right party, has spent a lot of time in the 20s for support, but has recently recovered a bit to the mid thirties.

In Germany herself Merkel’s CDU hit a new low of 26% in the last General Election, whilst her main socialist opponent polled just 20%. In the Netherlands the centre right retains the Prime Ministership with a shaky multi party coalition and just 27% of the vote.

In Italy PD, the centre left, is currently on 23%. The Christian Democrats have disappeared, and Forza has 16% in their place. In Denmark the social democrats have held on to 30% of the vote, but the centre right Conservative Peoples party is down to just 4%. The populist right have taken much of the support. In Spain the PP have 26% of the vote and the Prime Ministership with a minority coalition, whilst their socialist opponents are currently on 23%.

It probably suits the EU that the two party system is broken so comprehensively and no country now is capable of providing a single party majority government, with the breath taking exception of France who elected a totally new party to both the Presidency and a majority of the Parliament. There things have become so bad for the two traditional parties that neither had a candidate for the Presidency in the last two! A US Presidential election without either the Republicans or the Democrats is unimaginable.

The fact that some Euro area countries go long periods with no government at all, and then have periods of weak coalition government, helps shift more power to the EU. it raises the issue of accountability, and the possibility of more direct elections at the EU level. The German government is now likely to add its voice to that of France in seeking a bigger EU budget, an EU bail out fund for banks and more centralised decision taking. The exit of the UK makes achieving this much easier as they will no longer have a large non Euro country wanting to stop this process.


  1. PaulW
    February 10, 2018

    Even if UK were to remain in the EU it was not going to slow down this process of change..we are in a time of change when it comes to representative politics hence the need for well tried and tested war horses to take the reins at the level of the EU steer the to speak..the days of the two party system rotating government between themselves is well and truly over in most countries and good luck to that is what i say

    1. Rien Huizer
      February 10, 2018

      The UK is not going to stay in the EU. Why else do you think their representatives not keen at all to compromise? Good riddance some would say.

  2. Tom
    February 10, 2018


    The EU is profoundly anti-democratic. It draws all power to its rotten heart. The citizens become totally powerless, their govenments no better than divided bickering local councils acepting their orders and picking up the wages, pensions and allowances. The Euro was all part of this evil plan and it worked. MEPs are merely a fake and powerless democratic veneer of largely over paid parasites.

    Many people in the member states are finally realising this. It will surely not end well. Thank goodness the British voted leave. A shame this UK government has such a lack of vision, is stuffed with misguided, remainer socialists and is failing to grab the huge oportunities that Brexit offers.

    Let us hope all the traitors at the BBC, in government, academia. the civil Service and elsewhere are finally defeated and exposed for what they were and are.

  3. WalterP
    February 10, 2018

    Some people would argue that we have too much governmrnt at national level and not enough parluamentry representation..i personally have no problem with ghe EU institutions..the MEPs are all elected, the Council is the heads of yhe various govetnments all elected who appoint Tusk to be the top man to coordinate their tjat leaves the Commission which is reLly the civil service of the EU..if tnings are worki g well at national level it can be argued,as in the case of Gernany, they don’t really need a government all of the time. In smaller countries wr see where NI has done without a government for 12 months or so and alls hoing question wr really need so much govermment in we reLly need 800 lords unelected in the upper chamber? I don’t think so

    1. Fairweather
      February 10, 2018

      Sorry Walter you are wrong
      The Commission are NOT the civil service. It’s the other way round
      The Commission are the government- they make the laws
      The Coincil of ministers can vote on them but commission invariably win because it is doe by QMV ( qualified majority voting)
      The MEPs are just puppets who are given a charade of voting these laws/directives through but many things are put through en masse and they have no mechanism for doing amendments or proposing new law
      Also these laws / directives are then set in stone for evermore. New governments in UK cannot change them . Is this democracy?

  4. Ian wragg
    February 10, 2018

    Because of the fragmentation of the mainly pro EU parties we now have the likes of AfD in Germany and similar parties elsewhere which are anti EU.
    This could be very dangerous for Brussels. Time will tell.

    1. Rien Huizer
      February 10, 2018

      Political fragmentation is not the result of anti-EU feelings. Anti EU feelings tend to be a tool for political entrepreneurs who have a variety of reasons why they operate outside responsible structures. In one case at least that is simply “politics for profit”, in other cases some rudimentary concern about issues responsible political organisations (ie ones that do not avoid government responsibility) that cannot be accomodated withhin traditional parties. Media have something to do with this too. But populism exists in stronngly EU-dependent countries (like the Visegrads) as well as countries that could go it al;one with minor sacrifices (like Germany). Some themes sthey share: aversion to the foreign/glorification of the nation and its past, aversion to immigrants, etc.

  5. Mark B
    February 10, 2018

    Good morning.

    It probably suits the EU that the two party system is broken so comprehensively and no country now is capable of providing a single party majority government . . . .

    Yep ! But you forgot to add the UK to that list. Pot – Kettle – Black springs to mind ūüėČ

    The irony being, you had a majority and threw it away against the worst that the Labour Party have been in decades. Even Gordon Brown could not be deposed without going into coalition with the LibDems and the GE before last saw you have to practically frighten people (the English) to vote for you in order to prevent a Labour / SNP government.

    I am sorry Mr. Redwood MP sir, on this subject you are on very shaky ground.

    And in anycase, who cares who is in power, when our TRUE MASTERS and DECISION MAKERS sit quietly in Brussels unburdened by such concerns as elections.

    1. mickc
      February 10, 2018

      But it is not the worst that the Labour party has been in decades. The current model of capitalism (really crony corporatism….) has failed the many but massively benefited the few. The most egregious example being the saving of the banks at the expense of the people. Of course there have been others since….the latest being Carillion.

      If the present model is broken, and it is, people will seek an alternative. Corbyn provides an alternative; many will wish to try it. The reasoning will be that it can hardly be worse than what exists. And who can in all honesty say the reasoning is wrong…..

      1. mancunius
        February 10, 2018

        We’ve already had the ‘alternative’ – under the post-war Labour government and then the Wilson and Callaghan governments: all brought the country to a standstill.
        Corbyn is just a tribute act for the hard of thinking and the poorly educated.

        1. mickc
          February 11, 2018

          I was not advocating a Corbyn government….merely pointing out that it is an alternative to the present failed model of capitalism.

          Yes of course Socialism will fail….again; however it may bring the Tories back to reality…

          1. mancunius
            February 14, 2018

            mickc – Capitalism has not failed – the problem is that governments keep on skewing the market. Whether Right to buy, (1980s) or Help to buy (now) governments constantly interfere in the housing market for political reasons. Instead of freeing up the fracking markets, they force energy providers to participate in expensive ‘alternative’ schemes. So the energy companies have to raise their prices to protect the margin that ensures they have investors onside. Then politicians suddenly announce they will cap energy prices – naturally the shareprices fall and investors and bondholders who’ve been funding them are forced to take a loss; they then bail out, and investment is lost, and the taxpayers have to pick up the pieces.
            Banks are bailed out with taxpayers’ money. Interest rates are faked by central banks. Company pension scheme deficits are deliberately ignored while directors walk off with bonuses. Small firms are forced to grant unaffordable rights of leave and guarantees of salary and contract renewal to staff…
            This isn’t a failed model of capitalism – it’s a complete misunderstanding of how capitalism needs to operate, and what government is there for. Hayek would smile a bitter and knowing smile, were he alive right now.
            As Reagan used to say: the motto for government should be ‘Don’t Do Something – Just Stand There!’

  6. Peter D Gardner
    February 10, 2018

    It isn’t just that there are myriad parties to choose from. It is that the main parties are, with a few notable exceptions, similar in their EU style of favouring technocratic/bureaucratic government. They share a sense of entitlement to govern the masses. True democrats would not allow the continuation of ever closer union unless the drive for it comes strongly from the people themselves, which it does not. So they all continue with union by stealth and deception, as Monnet et al recognised as the necessary modus operandi.
    There will come a time when people in the EU, especially the eurozone (set to enlarge over the next ten years) realise they have hardly any power through their national parliaments and therefore that they are not being ruled by consent. The EU on its present course and believing deeply in supra-national technocratic government, will be a significant cause of unrest and a threat to peace in Europe.

    1. John C.
      February 10, 2018

      It’s worth considering that most conflicts of the past century have arisen from the desires of people to break free or to create an imperium where one didn’t exist. Even the Great War was sparked by the situation in Bosnia.
      Previously, wars tended to centre around territory or succession.

  7. Bryan Harris
    February 10, 2018

    “The one thing they can guarantee is no voter will get the government they voted for.”

    Absolutely – but isn’t this what PR is designed to do.. it brings in a compromise situation, right at the start – Yes, OK, that can happen with FPTP… but please let’s never have any form of PR in this country…. even if it means letting in those damned socialists – I’d prefer a strong government to one held back on doing anything because their partners were always fighting the main party in a coalition.

    1. Rien Huizer
      February 10, 2018

      People do not vote for “government” they vote for a party that will cooperate with other parties in a certain way. Or they vote for a party that will not govern (like the Dutch Wilders Party or the German AfD). Or they stay away. But no one expects that his choice will appoint a dictator who does not need compromise

      1. Edward2
        February 11, 2018

        Working well in Germany…..

      2. Bryan Harris
        February 12, 2018

        <B<"they vote for a party that will cooperate with other parties"

        Oh no they don’t! – People vote for the party that aligns with their own views …. they certainly do not want their ideals watered down by a party that hold totally opposing views….

      3. mancunius
        February 14, 2018

        So according to you the PVV and AfD are parties ‘who will not govern’?
        That casual petitio principii made me laugh. By all reasonable democratic criteria, the PVV and AfD should already be in government. ‚ÄčThe PVV (led by Wilders) is already the second largest ‚ÄčDutch ‚Äčparty in terms of votes and parliamentary seats. ‚ÄčBut the other parties cussedly collude in blocking its participation.
        And that is the problem with continental coalition politics – you end up with a ‚Äčhorsetraded, ‚Äčtacked-together ‚Äčmongrel government of parties with ‚Äčopposing directions and policies, ‚Äčwhose main purpose is to exclude another party – usually a eurosceptic ‚Äč‚Äčparty‚Äč ‚Äč- despite that party’s strong showing in elections.
        The AfD is another example: polling third‚Äč among German voters‚Äč, higher than the FDP, the Greens or Die Linke – but ‚Äčshunned from coalition talks‚Äč by the panicking CDU‚Äč.‚Äč ‚ÄčRecent German opinion polls (reported in Die Zeit ‚Äč‚Äčthis week) show dwindling support for the SPD (at a shockingly low 16.5%) and CDU/CSU (29.5% combined), but increased support for the AfD (16.5%). ‚ÄčSo the so-called ‘Grand Coalition’ has the support of only 45%, and *nobody* has voted for its policy programme. ‚Äč
        Many German voters are determined to switch to the AfD next time round, as they can see only an overall majority will enable the AfD to be in government at all. ‚ÄčTthe Austrian solution ‚Äčwill inevitably happen in Germany – ‚Äčthe AfD growing in support, and finally ‚Äča genuine ‚Äčand more wide-awake ‚ÄčConservative kicking Merkel out and taking over the party, having read the writing on the wall, and offering ‚Äčthe AfD ‚Äča coalition role‚Äč‚Äč to save the CDU from the electoral meltdown the SPD have already undergone.

  8. alan jutson
    February 10, 2018

    So what conclusion could/should we draw from the results you highlight.

    People are turning to a new party, because they are fed up with the traditional ones failing to perform.

    Will the new Parties be any better ?

    Probably not because they are nearly all in coalition, and so are not really in power, or in a position to fulfil many of the promises made.

    Macron is the only one to really cut through and govern, so let us see how his promises unfold.

    Interesting but unsettling times ahead for many Countries and their voters.

    1. Mitchel
      February 10, 2018

      The Jan/Feb 2018 edition of Foreign Affairs magazine(a bit too neo-con flavoured for my liking but usually has some interesting geo-political perspectives in it’s essays) has an article on Macron,featuring a quote from an interview he gave to Le 1 at a time when he was Hollande’s Economy Minister:-

      “Democracy always implies some kind of incompleteness….In French politics,this absence is the figure of the king,whose death I fundamentally believe the French people did not want.”

      Le roi est mort.Vive le roi!

      (Although in Macron’s case I’m sure he would prefer it to be “Vive L’Empereur”-just a matter of waiting for Mutti to anoint him.

  9. agricola
    February 10, 2018

    The people of the EU need strong and stable governments at the national level. Without such they are very vulnerable to the federating united states of Europe’s dreams of the unelected bureaucrats of Brussels.

    The democracy that the nation states of Europe have acquired since the middle of the twentieth century is an ailing child that the EU would happily kill off. One can only hope that the seeds of dissent within the nation states gains strength, and imposes itself on the arrogant anti democratic soviet of the EU. “The Transitional Arrangements in the Withdrawal Agreement”, are meant not only as a slap down to the UK ,but as a warning to any other national government within the EU not to step out of line. As such the UK government should reply along the lines of my draft letter at the end of yesterdays submission.

  10. Leslie Singleton
    February 10, 2018

    Dear John–They are fundamentally different from us and that’s the way it should stay

  11. jerry
    February 10, 2018

    “The exit of the UK makes achieving this much easier as they will no longer have a large [Europhobic] country wanting to stop this process.”

    There John, corrected that for you, and yes many of the faults with the EU/Euro are due to not being fully Federated like the USA or Australia are for example, no one has the sort of conversations in those countries as some do in the EU28.

    As for ‘unstable’ governments, we do not have to look beyond our own coastline to find an example, our own national govt, you would be better advised seeking solutions to your own parties problems than those of Germany etc. Otherwise Mr Corbyn might very well be cycling up Downing Street, and perhaps far sooner than some expect.

    1. Know-Dice
      February 10, 2018

      “EU/Euro are due to not being fully Federated like the USA or Australia”

      For sure Jerry, the United States of Europe is the answer, but not one that I want and it appears that those that voted Remain are in denial that this is the direction of travel for the EU – There will be no status quo…

    2. mickc
      February 10, 2018

      Not, I think, Europhobic but “ever closer union” phobic.

      The Eurocrats seek to enforce something which can only be achieved by the consent of the relevant peoples. That will only come with time and proven benefits; but not with what is effectively compulsion and the connivance of the peoples elected representatives. The key word, of course, is representatives…..not rulers.

  12. Woody
    February 10, 2018

    Surely a strong case to keep supporting the FPTPelectoral system in the uk. The worst of all cases is to have no government to be responsible.

    1. Caterpillar
      February 10, 2018



  13. Norman
    February 10, 2018

    BABYLON, by any other name, ‘and smells as sweet’! (Revelation 17:11-13)

  14. Blue and Gold
    February 10, 2018

    Due to the UK’s voting system, in my lifetime we have never had a government that the majority of the people voted for.

    Only around 25 per cent of MPs have over 50 per cent of the electorate voting for them.

    It suits the 2 main parties to keep it this way. I hate UKIP with every bone in my body, however, they only had one MP elected with 4 million votes cast in 2015, which is a disgrace.

    Then of course we have the ‘other place’ totally unelected, which of course is stuffed full of ‘has beens’, and re-filled with the appropriate left or right wingers according to who is in power. ‘Democracy’ UK style.

    We need coalition government here. Extreme right wing (as we have now) or left wing are bad for the nation. Coalition would correctly represent the views of the UK citizens.

    1. Prigger
      February 10, 2018

      “Due to the UK‚Äôs voting system, in my lifetime we have never had a government that the majority of the people voted for.”
      You are wrong. Yes we did. Yes we do.Our democratic system ensures in accordance with our ancient and wise custom that the person or Party who, and which, gets the majority vote is recognised by all peace-loving democracy-approving British people as representing , democratically, all of us.
      If you vote Tory and the Labour Party receives the majority vote, you have, by your taking part, agreed in full, with the principle that the majority vote , its result , is in fact YOUR vote. YOUR result. OUR result.
      While ever you take part, while ever you continue voting in this pre-arranged and pre-agreed voting method you are agreeing in practice with it. So please stop betraying democracy and your country by taking part.Stop voting!!!!

    2. Edward2
      February 10, 2018

      Gosh you must be extremly left wing if you think the current Government is “extreme right wing”
      When you sit at the left hand edge of politics everyone is to your right.

      1. Andy
        February 10, 2018

        Alternately, when you sit at the right hand edge of politics everyone is to your left.

        Gosh, you must be extremely right wing if you think the current Government is not.

        1. Edward2
          February 11, 2018

          Usual nonsense as usual from you Andy.
          The current government cannot be described as far right or hard right.
          You are just being very silly.

  15. Richard1
    February 10, 2018

    The growing power of the super state is evident in the swagger of EU figures such as Barnier Juncker and Verhofstadt. Maybe voters in Eurozone countries are content with this continual shift of power – if I was a voter in Greece or Italy, given the history, I might be. But we can be fairly sure they will never again be asked!

    1. LenD
      February 10, 2018

      Richard1..After march 2019 we won’t have to see Barnier Junker or any of those people lighten up it won’t be long now..only a few months to go

  16. Prigger
    February 10, 2018

    A dictatorship-in-waiting first requires chaos.

  17. Doug Powell
    February 10, 2018

    ….”the old system of two main parties offering a centre left or a centre right alternative has broken down.”

    It has broken down because there is now virtually no difference between the main parties, hence, they offer no traditional alternative to vote for. – No alternative to the Corporate Colonisation of all nations to the detriment of the individual and small businesses of those nations!

    Whatever people think of them, Corbyn and Jacob Rees-Mogg, if elected leader, would create divergence between the parties in the UK.

    1. mickc
      February 10, 2018

      Yes you are right.

      Let’s bring back real difference between the parties and have real, meaningful politics, rather than the same flavour no matter how you vote.

      And I like both Corbyn and Rees-Mogg….neither are afraid to set out their beliefs.

    2. John C.
      February 10, 2018

      That’s a very sound point, and it seems to healthier than the remote, unassailable bureaucracy that is steadily deciding the fate of all Europeans. What we do need, though, is a more representative system than we have at the moment.

  18. JoolsB
    February 10, 2018

    We can hardly condemn other countries’ voting systems John when the one we have here is anything but democratic. England has voted Conservative in every election since 2001 and yet it took until 2015 to get the Government of it’s choosing. Scotland, Wales & NI all get the Governments of their choosing yet still decide who governs England because England is only allowed the Government of the whole UK’s choosing and is therefore governed by unelected and unaccountable MPs from across the whole UK. Why should the people in the rest of the UK get two votes and England only one? One to decide their own self determining legislatures and one to decide who governs England. In 2005 Scottish MPs in a Scots dominated Labour UK Government were the determining factor in tuition fees being introduced in England, something they would not countenance for Scotland. UKIP won 4 million votes in 2015, more than the SNP, Lib Dums, Greens, Plaid Cymru put together yet received not one MP.

    Before we start criticising other countries, maybe the self serving MPs in this country should look at the anything but democratic system of government we have here. With respect John, for someone who purports to stand up for England, when are you going to start doing just that and demand England is given equality with the other nations of the UK and western world with it’s own parliament and it’s own First Minister where only those elected by us get to govern us?

    As you know full well it would not mean more politicians or more money, just a cull in the number of existing UK MPs. Isn’t that the nub of the matter? Self preservation amongst 650 self serving UK MPs is far more important to them than democracy for England?

    Once powers come back from the EU, UK Government Ministers have already promised to repatriate some of them back to the devolved nations whilst unbelievably yet again ignoring England and the fact she doesn’t even have any of the powers they already enjoy. When that happens, it won’t be the unstable Governments of Europe you should worry about but the anger from the people of England who will finally say enough is enough of UK Governments of all colours, including this ‘Tory’ one to their eternal shame, ignoring the rotten deal England gets both financially and constitutionally!!

  19. Epikouros
    February 10, 2018

    It appears Western democracy is in disarray. Politicians only have themselves to blame for it. They have become more and more overtly venal and self serving puting imposing their ideology and personal gain above public service. There are a few exceptions and as far as I can discern they only reside on the centre right of politics. The public have to accept some of the blame for not taking the time or using their intelligence to ascertain who not to vote for. Misguidedly they vote on purely partisan lines and fail to see through the the lies and bribery that politicians use to gain their votes.

    So politicians and their cronies are not particularly nice people at least these days and it has always probably been so but now they are far more numerous and powerful as the state in conjunction with the EU has grown to a monstrous size. Causing a dysfunctional and corrupt system that voters recognise with dismay but fail to understand the root cause and therefore can only scramble around seeking solutions. It is like being in a sinking ship for them as grab onto and flotsam that offers to keep them afloat. They perceive the ship is sinking because it is rotten so swim to any offer of help that to them appears plausible only in most cases to find it is no better than if they had stayed on the ship.

  20. formula57
    February 10, 2018

    Whilst it may no longer face UK opposition to the Franco-German vision of reform, the Evil Empire does have to contend now with the Visegrad group plus Austria. Europhiles may lament that those countries did not offer the UK more support when D. Cameron was attempting reform.

    The Evil Empire copes with Visegrad by variously branding it a betrayer of professed if not followed European values, illiberal, a threat to democracy and the rule of law etc.. It is what evil empires be like.

  21. Andy
    February 10, 2018

    What you consider a weakness is actually a strength. It means governments have to consider the views of ALL voters.

    Here, this failing hard-right Conservative government – even with its dodgy deal with the DUP – represents a minority of voters.

    The other 57% of the electorate do not count.

    Worse, the weakness of May means she is held hostage by a small group of Parliamentary Brextremists – nearly all rich old white men.

    Mrs Merkel’s ability to negotiate and compromise makes her a strong leader Рa towering figuring. Mr Macron’s ability to appeal to both left and right makes him strong.

    Britain’s politics are broken. We need our government to listen to all voices. At the moment it only hears a few dozen Parliamentary Victor Meldrews who speak only for themselves. Time to drain the Westminster swamp.

    1. Edward2
      February 10, 2018

      Another extreme left winger saying the current Government is hard right.
      Now you know how many felt during blair and browns 13 years of dreadful misrule.

      1. hans chr iversen
        February 10, 2018


        an extreme left winger is a communist, so do not make my laugh on such a comment

        1. Edward2
          February 11, 2018

          And an extreme right winger is fascist
          So don’t make me laugh either with such nonsensical comments

          1. hans chr iversen
            February 11, 2018

            then use the right terms when you describe in a debate instead of extremes

          2. Edward2
            February 12, 2018

            Check your own facts.
            It was young Andy who was claiming the government is extreme right and hard right.
            I was reminding him how stupid that claim is.

      2. John C.
        February 10, 2018

        It’s the new myth, that May and her gang of pinkos are in some way extreme Right. Laughable.

      3. Peter Parsons
        February 10, 2018

        Blair and Brown never won a majority share of the vote, so had no right to govern under any fair and representative system. In 2005 they won just 35.2% of the votes. 35% is not any sort of majority, so should never deliver majority government, neither should the 36.9% the Conservatives won in 2015. A majority should be a majority of the people (at least those who chose to participate).

        Continental electoral systems mean that if parties become less popular, they gain fewer elected representatives. Under FPTP, less popular means you still get the same lot just with smaller majorities and is the reason why parties choose to ignore most of us at election time (as the Conservatives did to about 85% of the electorate in 2015).

        PR delivers a system which means every single one of us has an equal stake in the final outcome. That, for me, is democracy. A system where we all have an equal voice. Any system where most of us are irrelevant is not real democracy, it is sham democracy, democracino.

        It’s time we had real democracy in the UK and made every vote count, every vote worth using, and every vote worth campaining for.

        1. Edward2
          February 11, 2018

          Under PR after your vote is counted a few fringe parties get together with one of the bigger parties and decide who gets what jobs and what pre election promised policies will dropped or modified to cobble together a working government.
          Not my idea of democracy.

          1. Peter Parsons
            February 11, 2018

            If a party wants to govern alone they should command the support of the majority. That’s democracy.

            If a party can’t come up with an offering which can command the support of the majority, then they don’t deserve to be in government alone.

            It is better for the majority to have the majority of what they voted for implemented (which is the outcome of a coalition) than the majority get nothing that they voted for (which is what FPTP delivers).

          2. Edward2
            February 12, 2018

            Very few governments elected under PR have ever been able to govern alone.
            PR systems are designed to create coalitions.
            Weak unstable cobbled together post vote coalitions where fringe parties hold power over the most popular party.
            Nothing democratic about that.

            Working well in Germany….

          3. Peter Parsons
            February 12, 2018

            Your description of “Weak unstable cobbled together post vote coalitions where fringe parties hold power over the most popular party.” describes the current UK government very well.

            Your objection to PR sounds like you much prefer to render the vast majority of the electorate as irrelevant and voiceless, a very undemocractic view IMO.

          4. Edward2
            February 12, 2018

            Working well in Germany
            And Belgium
            And Italy

          5. Peter Parsons
            February 12, 2018

            Working well in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland etc. whereas FPTP has contributed massively to a deeply divided UK.

            The majority of the UK population, when asked, want Parliament to reflect voting preferences (i.e. some form of PR). Your adherence to disenfranchising the majority is a minority view.

    2. Doug Powell
      February 10, 2018

      All voices may be heard, but decisions cannot be made on the basis of appeasing all factions – that is impossible, a recipe for mediocrity worse than recent years! ‘He/she who considers everything, decides nothing!’ Choosing between competing ideologies is the basis of our democracy.

      Drain the swamp? Yes, of course – purge the main parties of Blairites and Neo Liberals – Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron and May – what’s the difference?

    3. David Cockburn
      February 10, 2018

      This misunderstands the two party system as both parties contain people with very diverse views. A Tory party with both Soubry and Mogg ensures a wide variety of voices are listened to.

  22. Bert Young
    February 10, 2018

    Traditional Parties everywhere are probably no longer appropriate . The impetus created by more immediate news and opinion has changed the perceptions people have of their representative systems . Here the most outstanding feature is the House of Lords ; as an un-elected body of older generation people it no longer fits into a case of respected valued opinion ; the fact that it can over-rule decisions made in the Commons is simply ridiculous and is out of sync with our modern day life .

    Were it not for the enforced conditions of Union membership , the Labour Party could not exist ; the Conservative Party also suffers from declining membership numbers and presently is not a cohesive stitched together group . The time has probably arrived here for individual Parliamentary candidates to stand on their own rights and beliefs and not to be attached to a Party grouping ; it would mean that , post election , MPs would select leaders whom they respected to form an inner Cabinet of Ministers . Majority opinion within such a HoCs would have a continuing meaning providing these elected Ministers performed well and retained support .

  23. Denis Cooper
    February 10, 2018

    Off-topic, I saw this headline in the Telegraph:

    “Could Canada’s hi-tech border controls provide the answer to Britain’s customs union dilemma?”

    and thought they obviously haven’t understood that the Irish government does not want to be helped towards any such solution of what is in reality a minor problem, involving just 0.1% of UK GDP and still only about 9% of Northern Ireland GDP, which they and the EU are simply trying to use to disrupt the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

    I repeat what the Irish Europe Minister has said:

    ‚ÄúWe have been very very clear from day one, there cannot be a physical border and that means ruling out cameras, that means ruling out technology, that means ruling out anything that would imply a border on the island of Ireland, it is not an option for us‚ÄĚ.

    When she said “… that means ruling out anything that would imply a border on the island of Ireland … ” that is exactly what she meant, she was not asking for help or advice on how to set up some completely unobtrusive, efficient, hi-tech and high-speed system of checks on a border which the Irish government wishes to pretend does not exist, even though it clearly does exist both on the maps and on the roads.

    The Remoaners are jubilant:

    “The Irish border problem is the ultimate barrier to hard Brexit”

    and they don’t seem to understand how disgraceful it is that they are in effect invoking the threat of renewed terrorism to get their way:

    “Police chief says ‘hard Brexit’ Irish border would be paramilitary target”

    The solution is actually simple, namely that the UK Parliament should pass a new law to guarantee to the Irish government and the EU that goods exported across the border from Northern Ireland after we have left the EU will be no less compliant with relevant EU laws than the goods crossing the border while we are still in the EU; and that certainly does not necessitate that every person and business in Northern Ireland, let alone in the UK, must remain subject to every EU law in perpetuity.

    1. Andy
      February 10, 2018

      Yawn. You are trying – and failing – to figure out how you can both have a border and not have a border at the same time.

      Schrödinger’s border as Robert Peston so eloquently explains. No wonder the rest of the world is looking at people like you and wondering if you’ve taken something funny.

      1. Edward2
        February 11, 2018

        And you are using this issue as yet another way of trying to stop the UK leaving the EU.
        If two countries decide they want very little or no restrictions on cross border trade and travel then that is what will happen.

      2. Denis Cooper
        February 11, 2018

        There is no border, Andy, according to the Irish government, as I have pointed out, and I have also pointed out a simple solution which would obviate the need for any checks at that border which the Irish government chooses to pretend is non-existent. If you look to the likes of Robert Peston for intelligent well-informed commentary you must be pretty desperate.

  24. acorn
    February 10, 2018

    The natives have been getting restless in the western world particularly, since the advent of Neo-liberalism in the late seventies. That is, Monetarism wrapped up in big corporation globalism. This aided by tethered politicians removing labour protection laws.

    Neo-liberalism stealthy transfers more of a nations market income to capital and less to labour. We are now in a period since the 2008 Crash, where this loss of “the labour share” is becoming apparent to the 99%.

    The OECD Employment Outlook for 2012 has the definitive explanation in Chapter 3 “Labour Losing to Capital: What Explains the Declining Labour Share” Well worth a read.

    1. Edward2
      February 11, 2018

      You are not defining neo liberalism at all.
      Quite the opposite.
      You are describing crony capitalism and globalism.

  25. Anonymous
    February 10, 2018

    No. The EU just wants a Continent neutralised coalitions dancing around the head of a pin stuck in Blairite middle ground. Token governments.

    If we are staying in the EU then Question Time should be panelled by MEPs with MPs never seen (a reversal of today.)

    To a Remainer his MEP should be his most important local politician. (I expect he doesn’t know their name let alone vote for them.)

  26. LenD
    February 10, 2018

    Our system of first past the post has got to be the most undemocratic and unrepresentative system in the whole of Europe..and is crying out for change..but will turkeys vote for Chrustmas?

    1. formula57
      February 10, 2018

      The greatest purpose of having a vote is that it confers the opportunity of removing from government those who have disappointed. (It is true of course that it also confers the chance of appointing those one would like, but it is not possible to know in advance whether a government will be any good so that is why being able to remove it is the greatest purpose.)

      Systems of proportional representation typically provide that a third placed party enjoys perpetual government. (Imagine being unable to see off Clegg and also Cable, he of the tuition fee increased and selling Royal Mail on the cheap!) In contrast, FPTP systems make it easier for the people to vote out disappointing governments. We should surrender such advantage only reluctantly.

  27. Roy Grainger
    February 10, 2018

    A US Presidential election without Republicans or Democrats is what we almost had – Trump and the Democrat runner-up candidate Bernie Sanders were neither even members of the parties they represented even a couple of years ago and both had policies way outside the mainstream view of each party.

  28. forthurst
    February 10, 2018

    I cannot agree with the premise of this article in a situation where the then traditional parties of the left and right have been exclusively Europhile. Germany has had difficulties with forming a coalition because the SPD originally refused to renew its coalition with the CDU in order to prevent the AfD becoming the official opposition. Subsequently it would appear that coalition talks broke down because of migration policy and the apportionment of ministries with the three main offices of state after the Chancellorship finally being conceded to the SPD with Martin ‘United States of Europe’ Schultz, President of the European Parliament, becoming Foreign Minister.

    To suggest that German politics are more chaotic than British politics is to ignore the reality which is that because of the deeply undemocratic FPTP electoral system, the two monopolistic parties exist as coalitions in themselves, hence Mrs May presides over a cabinet of mainly Europhile globalists, despite the country being Eurosceptic on balance, who are only being prevented from keeping us locked into the EU by a minority of Eurosceptics. Meanwhile Corbyns’ party contains a mix of Marxists and Blairite globalists which does not appear to be able to annunciate its EU policy with any clarity.

  29. mancunius
    February 10, 2018

    The recent opinion poll in Germany (2nd Feb 2018 – Forschungsgruppe Wahlen) shows that support for the CDU has dropped two points, the SPD by one point (to 19%) and support for both AfD and the Greens has gone up two points to 14%.
    Of the SPD voters polled, only 50% support the idea of another SPD GroKo with the CDU/CSU. Merkel has recently conceded the SPD a considerable number of big ministries – including Foreign Affairs, and – most controversially of all – Finance Minister. I would bet that the SPD was able to get these advantages by pointing to the threat of their ‘Basis’ – the SPD party membership – vetoing SPD participation in the new GroKo when they’ll be asked to give their consent – probably in early March.
    It will be interesting to see how the SPD members vote. By resigning as party chief and (on Friday) withdrawing from his attempt to become Foreign Minister, the massively unpopular Schulz has helped the chances of an SPD membership ‘yes’ vote: but there is still strong opposition to a further GroKo from younger and left wing SPD members, and 24,000+ new members have signed up as members to vote No, in much the same way that people paid ¬£3 to become Labour Party members and vote for Corbyn.
    There would of course be a much more natural (and more representative) parliamentary coalition between CDU/CSU, FDP and AfD, but not with Merkel, who rashly pretends to ignore the AfD, just as she ignores all the elephants she so rashly invited into the room – the latter being one of the main reasons why the AfD vote in the 2017 election rose steeply, as the CDU/CSU & SPD vote declined. In Bavaria, AfD support is now well above that of the SPD. Voters have realized that – as with PVV in the Netherlands – only by becoming the majority party will the AfD be ‘allowed’ into government.

  30. hans chr iversen
    February 10, 2018


    (Incorrect allegation removed ed)our intial assumptions that coalition governments are weak in Europe, means that the EU gets more potential power.

    You do not understand Continental coalition governments and yo never will, majority single party governments as no necessarily better or stronger for democracy.

    The two largest parties in Denmark still ahve teh most votes so …. the fundamentals are still wrong, but you are too small to admit it.

    Do stop complaining that I have deleted some of your tweets. They are simply factually wrong and make false allegations about me. The Conservative Peoples party used to lead the government or the Opposition in Denmark and has now declined to 4% in the polls, with a different right of centre so called populist party doing better. This party and its main opponent party still do not get to 50% between them”!. The cycle of decline is never ending. I understand continental coalition governments all too well. They sustain the EU scheme and exclude parties of the left and right who disagree with the project. In so doing they do not offer real change and so suffer themselves from declining or shifting popularity, so it is rare for them to poll well and form strong governments.

    1. hans chr iversen
      February 12, 2018

      very unfortunate

  31. hans chr iversen
    February 13, 2018

    no a lot of countries do not exclude the ring and left as you state in your response to me as I ahve tried to explain to you several times, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Portugal,Czech Republic and so on

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