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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The anti-EU vote: Spot the difference

Question: What's the difference between these two opinion polls for this month's European elections?

Answer: Ok, the percentages in the bottom graph are slightly higher, but there is a striking similarity.

The top graph plots the front runners in the French European elections: Marine Le Pen's Front National, the centre-right opposition UMP, and Francois Hollande's governing Parti Socialiste.

Meanwhile, the bottom graph plots the latest European election poll results for UKIP, Labour and the Conservatives.

There is always a tendency to see the anti-EU/government/establishment phenomenon as unique to one's own country. These European elections are likely to prove otherwise.


Rik said...

1. One should keep in mind that like in the UK, in France, while the traditional press try to portrait her as a moron, in reality Ms LePen is a brilliant politician.
The way she has handled a change of culture (and with that the image nationally) within her party is very well done.
Effectively it is even better than the Blair transformation in the UK of Labour as it is hard to see the party reversing it (unlike Labour) and largely done only by herself on top of that.

2. Same with people like Farage. IPs campaign was brilliant certainly compared to pathetic campaign of traditional parties all over Western Europe. Hard to believe that there are professional advertising agancies who want to have their names connected to them btw. Simply overal complete ineffective rubbish with absolute no understanding of the market they are operating in.

3. Or Wilders. Risktaker who is able to do things nobody else has ever done while clearly going over borders (also others than common decency) and get his bets right most of the time.
In general one should not confuse the fact that one doesnot like where these people stand for with their political skills. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.

4. Southern populists are different from these. Their basis is more in inefficiency and corruption.

5. Please also keep in mind that in countries other than their hometurf you only hear about the excesses not the day by day stuff people see in their homecountries on which Northern populist basically focus.
In Germany people think that Farage is a weirdo.
In the UK people think LePen is a neo-facist.
But as well probably the other way around.

6. These parties prosper as a basis on the fact that governments and traditional parties have mostly moved to the centre (so they lost their face).
As well as in fact all of those have a businessmodel that needs a lot of borrowing to keep people voting for them at least a lot more than taxes bring in. With aging that is simply not sustainable anymore (basically what Sloterdijk mentiones as the main problem, imho it is more complicated).
System that prefers very mediocre candidates. Obama with as only practical experience being a community organizer as the ultimate example).
Too many times being found out (Alfa Romeo (the ones that didnot have rust after a couple of years)politics). People have accepted empty promises because they had no alternative, not because they liked it or even would only take it when there were other options available).
A disconnect with the voterbase. Which worked some time because there were no no arrivals.
Probably a more dangerous situation when there actually came competition. The dangerous stuff has had time to become part of the culture of these traditional parties.

7. These parties use the discontent as a breeding ground but use something else often as their flag. Immigration, bad economy/Euro crisis.

8. On the other side traditional politics simply doesnot realy know how to deal with it (and so does the traditional press).
Started with calling names. Moronic nobody will vote for you after he has been called a biased fruitcake and/or (closet) racist.
In the UK this approach was even taken while a) Farage is a lot more decent/normal (only more excentric) than a lot of continental populists (so it sounds crap anyway) and b) it didnot work on the continent (as if there the situation would be very different). Hardly a way to show your intelligence imho.
Taking over policies might do a job. However only talking about it (and giving people the impression that it is hot air won't (what is happening now in the EP campaign, few people will buy the reform talk of many politicians). In doubt people go for the real thing/original.

Rik said...

On IP.
1. I was a bit surprised that the spread between EP polls and national polls was still that big.

2. Very likley a lot of the difference is yellow card (more orange and moving to red likely).
Last call for Mr Cameron to start communicating properly and more frequently to his potential voters.

3. What it probably did however is put Farage as a serious guy on the map. Percentage in the polls as such are imho less relevant than that.
And stay out of political trouble as well. No gay marriage stuff or bombing (or even close) other countries (preferably of the 3rd world kind). This is the time when people think mainly of themselves and their families. Effectively shooting at boat refugees might even bring you more votes than saving them. people vote for you to protect/defend their interest not to save the world from Putin or Assad.
If you have to get in for international reasons keep your head down. Ukraine is almost guaranteed a dossier that will end in tears for any politician that wants to write its name on the frontpage.
Pissing of your main energy supplier (with no realistic alternatives) and create permanent tensions along the whole EU Eastern border does that to situations.
Way too much dirt coming up on top of that. And a lot seems totally unnecessary. Not get into bed with amateurs or dodgy people (NeoNazis in Ukraine, or AlQ links in Syria) when the link can easily be made.
Last week campaign against Assad because he had apparently thrown toilet cleaner from an airplane. Looked like that from the attached pictures anyway. Children with a severe cold look worse.
No interest anyway and on top of that people look like they think they are pulleed into things by bogus stuff. So better choice of targets and pictures that show several dead children with very nasty stuff (not simply on a stretcher) and clear (not a Kerry kind of proof) or otherwise stay out.
And pray this doesnot lead to higher energy prices or a new recession (both real possibilities).

3. One way or another Cameron will before the general election have to confront Farage.
Simply unavoidable. But.
-explain the strategy and the fact that now it is a coalition better (more frequent) to the public beforehand.
And that now is the time to do it as well as the thing is in turmoil.
-slightly change strategy to: big reforms or out (not the pathetic soft tone drivel we have now), more like Osborn.
Hard to see that under normal conditions Cameron would lose the thing. His plan is simply much superior to direct out (and donot really know what will happen and think 50% of your direct neighbour trade can easily be chnaged for trade with the Commonwealth).
Main problem it is complicated that should be cleared up before a debate.
Unlike Clegg who completely underestimated Farage and went in to defend the EU as is (not the one it could be after reform).

4. Keep a deal with IP open as an option. Simply might as well be essential to keep the Tories on the map.
This is not the time to profile oneselve as anti-IP as a leader of the Conservatives. Simply asking for existential problems.

Denis Cooper said...

I hope this isn't another attempt to link UKIP and Le Pen in the hope that UKIP can be condemned by association.

Rik said...


LePen, Ms that is, the old bloke is a bit different, has normalised the party.
The worst 'racist' thing she has done is probably compared praying in public by you know who (and conpletely blocking not only traffic but everybody including pedestrians, with the German occupation via not being able to move).
Personally I find it always funny to bring up the war. People, get so nicely balistic. I always prefer to do it via comparing with the good things of bad people. A very competent politician like Wilders; he did like your Adolf (your always great to use in this respect with people from the same country as well) a great job on the infrastructure. That kind of stuff.
As politician you need to be a bit more careful so she probably should better not have done it.
However I doubt if it has costs her any votes. A lot of people will have seen it as another example of the overblown definition of racism some people use and the overblown reaction of the media on everything LePen or Ip, or Wilders.

You need to realise that the picture you have of Ms LePen is probably a wrong one (at least a very painted one). Farage is less extreme (not extreme imho)but not much. In other words Ms LePen is pretty normal. Definitely not an idiot. A clever politician.

At home the situation for her is very similar to what IP has to endure in the UK. But it happens so childish/amateurishly as well that few are still buying it.
All sort of petty stuff completely blown up.
Abroad it is even worse. It has to be news so you will never hear about Wilders asking clever questions on say EU bail outs. What you get is the assistant of his assistant (often pictured as a big shot in the party) having been a member of the Hitlerjugend and that kind of stuff.
Wilders is a bit wild, but LePen is a lot more normal/controlled. Wilders is imho interesting as he moves the borders. A lot of people think simply completely different from what traditional media wants us to believe.
I bet you have at least seen 10 times more negative news on her than positive. Maybe not even one thing really positive, but at best she was doing great in the polls (which can be seen as an implicit warning in papers that are anti-populist.
Still strange however that she is going from strength to strength (complete weirdos those French and Dutch and whatever). Things do not add up. Are French getting rapidly more retarded; while we all know the French can impossibly get more retarded); Alzheimer epidemic; LSD in the drinking water; did Putin attack with some nasty stuff?
She completely overhauled her party and its image, but abroad it is still the image of her father that is used (which was clearly more dubious). He is however an MEP I understood. But she determines the policy.

However the picture you get from her in the UK, is by the same media that present you the rubbish over Farage that you are not buying.
With the foreign populists the coverage is even more biased and negative. People buy it however as they are not overloaded with it like with the national stuff and have few other sources (as they usually have nationally). Minor points only getting one or two days media attention. But repeated after a month or so with the similar message.

Anyway it seems like traditional media are losing their grip on their readers quickly anyway.
While voters en masse move to parties like IP the papers have started a hatecampaign. Basically making the same mistake as politics.

Rik said...

Hard to see how even cowboy Wilders could be a bad association for a party as IP. People simply hardly care. And likely as much see the advantage of grouping up to from a large block rather as a political compromise move. LePen tries to create a blocking majority. If that could be achieved most voters would likely prefer that considerably over the negative publicity.

Like with Clegg and Milliband the Guardian is as well your friend.
Typical readers vote anyway and rather cut their arm off than voter IP. Chances very little.
But what they do is become even more irritating and unreasonable towards people like yourself who simply become more determined.
They forget that a large part of their (internet) readership is now IP-friendly (think still traditionally in paper stuff). You have to think traditional for commercial reasons to get money in. But for political messages the landscape has changed. You have a message that will be considered positive by on egroup but negative by another.

Just look at your own reaction on this one. You are so irritated by all the negative traditional news spin that even on an article where just facts are mentioned you expect something similar.
Works the same with most people.

Same btw with some of the comments of IP voters. They are nearly certain having a similar effect on voters from the other side.

Better not take any risk before the EP election of course. Think Farage plays this well.

Argumentation will become more important when you move to the middlegroups. Media are simply putting themselves in a position that IP voters will associate them with these traditional parties.
And likely that possibility, to do things different, is behind us as the media have lost their credibility for this group of people. Credibility lost is extremely difficult to restore.

It is not the same for all of course, but the nett effect simply seems to be pro-IP.

The problem for those guys is that they have a completely wrong selfimage and image of the way society looks at them. Half the population finds them utterly irritating bores. While they think they do society a great service.
Selfimage as well. The blunder Clegg made with Farage. I am clever and the other guy is retarded idiot.
Never underestimate your enemy. Not much overestimate them as well btw. They make a lot of mistakes keep repeating them while they clearly not work and havenot after more than a decade not find a way to deal with the populist. Hardly a sign of much intelligence in my world, but facing up to reality and your own mediocrity difficult for us all.

Lets finish with the words of SunTzu: 'donot know yourself and donot know your enemy and you will always be in danger'.
The winner of this will more likely be determined by this than by pure size.

Size matters, but knowing where you and the other stand is much more important.

Open Europe blog team said...

Thanks for your comment Dennis,

This is not the intention. We are of the view that is very difficult to make like-for-like comparisons of individual parties in different member states, which all reflect different national political cultures. Same goes for governing parties.

However, it is interesting to point out the strikingly similar anti-establishment/government dynamic at work in both France and the UK, which says something about the nature of the European elections and wider public attitudes to the EU

Anonymous said...

In a war you sometimes have to have strange bedfellows, so in the war against the anti democratising of europe, just as in WW2 the people fighting to regain democracy have to accept people they don't particularly agree with over anything else to Allie with. I wonder why no one ever points out the vast differences within the europhile enemies ranks.?

Denis Cooper said...

Rik and Open Europe Team -

What matters in this country is not so much the reality of Marine Le Pen as the perception created by the mass media, and again and again I have seen attempts by the pro-EU media to link UKIP to her so that UKIP will become guilty by association. Interview her on TV and get her to say that she would like to link up with UKIP, report that Geert Wilders thinks that UKIP will link up with her, and discount the facts that UKIP has wisely said very clearly that they will not link up with her and that Geert Wilders actually knows no different.

Rollo said...

I think you are wrong to categorise the UKIP as an anti-establishment, anti-ruling party vote. I think it is much deeper than that. More and more people regard the behaviour of the whole political class, jumped up schoolboys who have never had a real job other than climbing the greasy pole, while giving away our national identity to an unelected foreign power, as treason of the worst kind.

Simon said...


You might have a point about our political class in the UK, but to be honest that's something almost every anti-establishment movement in the history of politics has said: "We're not just a temporary anti-government movement, the establishment really is that bad and we're going to see a revolution in how we do politics... blah blah blah".

It also has to be said that UKIP's appeal is largely built on populist nonsense rather than policy, such as your description here of us "giving away our national identity to an unelected foreign power". No reasonable person with any grasp of the actual political situation uses descriptions of that nature - if you think we're ruled by an unelected Commission then you simply don't know how the EU works.

The fact that so many people believe such tosh is an indictment of mainstream politics by itself, but UKIP can't become a stable feature of our party system simply by lying to people about unelected bureaucrats dictating all our laws to us. Sooner or later the shelf-life of that drivel runs out and they'll actually have to develop some clear policies. That's something that, like them or not, the Front National has managed to do.