Popular Mood Dark Around the Globe

Night Watch
Posted: May 09, 2012 12:01 AM

Elections updates:

Iran: As expected, the run-off election in Friday confirmed the strength of voter sentiment against President Ahmadi-Nejad. Supporters of the Supreme Leader won all but 13 of the 65 seats contested.

France: As expected, Francois Hollande is the new president of France. In his victory speech on 6 May, Hollande said "…austerity cannot be the only option."

Greece: As expected, no party won a majority. The conservative New Democracy Party obtained the most votes, followed by a coalition of leftist parties and then the Socialists. Nevertheless, the New Democracy and Socialist Parties both sustained an enormous reduction in popular support. The magnitude of the anti-austerity vote was described as a volcanic eruption by Greek political analysts.

On 7 May the New Democracy Party failed in its attempt to form a coalition government. The second place party, the Coalition of the Radical Left rejected the New Democracy's offer. The leader of the Coalition, AlexisTsipras, said the parties that make up his coalition are in opposition and demand that the austerity measure be canceled.

The Greek President has asked the Coalition of the Radical Left to form a government. If it fails, the Socialists will be asked. coalition with the conservative New Democracy (ND) party, AP reported May 7. After talks with ND leader Antonis Samaras, Alexis Tsipras said the parties are in opposition and demanded that austerity measures be canceled.

Comment: The popular mood is dark. A neo-Nazi party won 7% of the vote which will entitle it to have representation in parliament for the first time. Expect street disorders.

German reaction also is as expected. Germany will not work to change Europe's compact on budget discipline and rejects growth measures that increase debt levels, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on 7 May.

New negotiations of the fiscal compact are not possible, Seibert said, adding that growth should come through structural reforms, not through new debt. Greece must implement reforms it agreed to as part of its bailout package. The agreements represent Greece's best path forward and Athens must adhere to them, Seibert said.

Die Welt's editorial wrote,

"Both Hollande and the Greek opposition are serving people's desire for a fundamental change in political and social conditions, which are mainly attributed to the most powerful woman in Europe: Chancellor Angela Merkel."

"They were voting against a tight rein on states by a central authority in Brussels, against the loss of democracy through 'expert government'. These elections were a clear rejection of the Angela Merkel's system in Europe."

Comment: Teutonic sternness is more likely to be incendiary than helpful. Die Welt has the right of it. The eurozone experiment is proving unsustainable against the sentiment for utopian and egalitarian solutions. The economies do not mesh. The regime of the bankers and bureaucrats in Brussels is under threat.

Serbia: From the 6 May parliament elections, the Socialist Party of late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic emerged as a kingmaker, after an inconclusive election in which voters punished the ruling Democratic Party for their economic woes.

Tomislav Nikolic's Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) appeared to be narrowly ahead of Boris Tadic's Democratic Party (DS), but neither appears able to form a government without the Socialists. Tadic is the incumbent president and faces elections in 2013.

The final results for the parliamentary elections will not be released until Thursday. The campaign was dominated by questions over the future of the Serbian economy, particularly the speed of accession to the European Union. Unemployment stands at 24%. The budget deficit is 4.5% of GDP but public debt is only 41% of GDP, compared to Greece's 165% of GDP or the US' 100% of GDP.

Comment: This was another vote against economic hardship. Whether a change of government takes place will depend on whether the Socialists choose to side with the SNS or the DS.

Armenia: Results from the 6 May elections, released on Monday, show that President Serzh Sarkisyan's ruling party won a majority of seats. The Central Election Commission said Sarkisyan's Republican Party took 44 percent of the vote, with former coalition partner, the Prosperous Armenia party, coming in second with 30 percent.

The opposition Armenian National Congress, led by former president Levon Ter-Petrosian, finished a distant third.

Comment: After experiencing a 14% decline in GDP in 2009, Armenia has rebounded under Sarkisyan to a 4.6% increase in 2011. Armenia is not in the EU and there was no backlash against austerity.

Russia:  For the record.  On 7 May Vladimir Putin was sworn in as the President of Russia.

Romania: Update. Romanian lawmakers approved Prime Minister Victor Ponta's Cabinet with a vote of 284-92. According to the press, he is expected to ease austerity measures but continue economic reforms

Syria: The opposition boycotted the 7 May parliamentary elections and ridiculed them in its propaganda, but the elections proceeded nonetheless. Some 7,000 candidates contested 250 seats in parliament.

Comment: The US and some western governments joined the Syrian opposition in belittling the elections. However, strong, armed opposition groups, such as the Taliban in Afghanistan, usually buttress a boycott with a campaign of disruption and intimidate, but that did not take place.

If the "violence rages" and the security situation is as bad as western press, governments and the opposition have claimed, it would seem impossible for the government to open polling places. This story does not add up.

End of NightWatch

NightWatch is brought to readers of Townhall Finance by Kforce Government Solutions, Inc. (KGS), a leader in government problem-solving, Data Confidence® and intelligence. Views and opinions expressed in NightWatch are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of KGS, its management, or affiliates.


A Member of AFCEA International