Saturday, 6 June 2009

European Elections 2009: Polling Day 3

The European elections have started in Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Malta, Slovakia and Outre-mer parts of the French Republic.


Czech Republic
:

Polling continues for the second and final day today in the Czech Republic, with President Klaus only voting this morning - he famously derided the EP elections as "unnecessary". Turnout is expected to be low, and many of the 30 parties running for a share of the Czech Republic's 22 seats won't win enough votes to send any MEPs to Brussels/Strasbourg. Former President Havel has backed the Green party, but it's unclear how much of a boost they'll get: Green parties generally haven't attracted much support in the new member states.

Lubos Palata has complained that there's no real choice for pro-European voters.

More detailed info on the Czech Republic here.



Italy
:

In Italy, immigration and Berlusconi's private life are talking points, but it's unlikely that divisive immigration rhetoric or continuing questions over Berlusconi's private life is going to dent his People of Freedom party's chances. With the left in disarray (as in France), and Berlusconi's ratings amazingly high for a leader in power during the economic crisis, the EPP can expect a big win here.



Cyprus:

Poor turnout for the final election rally of the ALDE-aligned European Party is not encouraging for their prospects, despite the leader claiming that the party wanted it nice and quiet. The ADLE-aligned Democratic party is almost certain of a seat.

The Communist, GUE-NGL aligned AKEL party (who controls the country's presidency), is one of the main parties fighting the elections - in 2004 they returned 2 MEPs. While the Democratic Rally (DISY), EPP-aligned, also returned 2 MEPs in 2004. Both parties are certain of returning 2 MEPs each again in the 6 seat country constituency.

The final seat is up for grabs. Low turnout and an overview of the elections in Cyprus here.



Latvia:

I'm afraid I don't know much about the elections in Latvia at all, though their economic is one of the worst hit in the economic crisis, so issues such as joining the euro early or devaluation of the Lat are likely to be high up.

The EPP-aligned New Era party is currently leading a 4-party governing coalition (only came in March 2009) but they've faced a loss of popularity over recent years. The People's Party headed the old government, but is still in the governing coalition (it's also EPP aligned), so I'm not sure how far the governing parties can escape punishment at the ballot box.

The Latvian Social Democratic Worker's Party is the PES-aligned party in Latvia, but it doesn't have a history of doing well in elections and is currently not in Parliament.

For Human Rights in United Latvia returned a MEP to the Greens-EFA in 2004 (I think it was the only Green-aligned MEP to be returned from the new eastern European Member States in 2004). It is currently represented in parliament, so it should have more of a chance of retaining its seat than the LSDWP has of gaining one.



Malta
:

Immigration is a big issue, as in Italy, and for similar reasons (though minus the Roma issue). Malta returns 5 MEPs to the European Parliament. Predict 09 has forecast no change in the party share of MEPs, with 3 MEPs for the Labour Party (PES), and 2 for the Nationalist Party (EPP). The Nationalist Party is currently in government.

Turnout (as of 2pm) is around 34%.



Slovakia:

The country with the lowest turnout in the last European elections (17%).

The governing PES-aligned Direction - Social Democracy was suspended from the PES in 2006 for forming a government with the right-wing Slovak National Party, which was PES considers as a party that stirs up racial hatred.

The Party of the Hungarian Coalition and the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union - Democratic Party are the main EPP aligned parties in Slovakia and are in opposition.

There's recently been a controversy over the Hungarian minority, with the party leader of the Hungarian right-wing Fidesz party, Orban, stressing the importance of electing Hungarian MEPs to defend the interests of Hungarians across the border in a comment in a meeting with the Hungarian Coalition. There was a meeting of the Slovak parliament on the last campaigning day to discuss the event - and it may have been used in an attempt to boost turnout and for party advantage.

Predict 09 predicts that Direction - Social Democracy will gain two seats, while the EPP aligned parties will lose seats.


France:

Not much to add since my last update - the clash between Daniel Cohn-Bendit and MoDem leader Francois Bayrou seems to be the big story of the campaign.

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