Thursday, July 9, 2009

Political Lean: America Left, Europe... Right?


In the midst of the worst continent-wide economic slump since World War II, the European Council, which includes the leaders of all 27 EU member nations, met in Brussels June 18 and 19. Despite the fact that Europe's GDP fell by over 4 percent in the first quarter, and unemployment in the Eurozone could top 11 percent in the next year, the Council chose to focus on deficit reduction rather than jobs or social protections.

This comes as no surprise to Professor David R. Cameron, director of the Yale Program in European Union Studies, who says this "Hooverian" response is symptomatic of Europe's ineffective approach to the crisis. A few days after the European Parliament elections resulted in near universal defeats for socialist, social democrat, and labor parties across Europe, TAP Online talked to Cameron about the European left's "existential crisis," the effect of Muslim immigration on European politics, and how Europe's response to the economic crisis differs from that of the U.S.

Marie Diamond: In the recent elections for European Parliament, socialist and social democratic parties suffered significant loses in nearly all 27 member states. Do these results represent a fundamental shift toward the right in European politics?

David R. Cameron: They certainly represent a short-term switch. I don't know that it necessarily means a long-term defection from the left to the right, but certainly there were significant losses in France, Portugal, Spain, and of course the Labor Party in Britain. They lost a lot of seats and they took the biggest hit in the election by far, and the vote certainly moved to the center or the right. But keep in mind that European Parliament elections are basically second-order national elections. Even though everyone would love it to be about European issues, in fact they are run by national parties and they are about national politics.

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