DAILY BRIEFINGEU Apathy, EC Excitement
Jun. 14 - Votes for the European Parliament were held all over the continent yesterday and there was rioting in London. They had nothing to do with one another.
The voting was pretty dull and the results were unsurprising. The riots were perpetrated not by political dissidents but by English soccer fans outraged by a last-minute loss to France in their opening match for the European Cup.
A violent passion for sport and an indifference to politics: maybe Europe and America aren't so different after all.
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I've been seeing a lot of analsysis of the EU vote, like this piece from Reuters, in which the conclusion drawn is that Tony Blair got bitch-slapped for aligning himself with George W. Bush, whereas Chirac and Schroeder got bitch-slapped for domestic issues.
I haven't seen or heard of any exit-polling to support these conclusions. They may be accurate. But here's my hunch: Europeans don't entirely understand what the hell the European Parliament is supposed to be doing. It's just big, weird, intrusive, and growing. So some Europeans say, "Well, that's the government's job, and I voted in the last election, so let them handle it." And they stay home. Others say, "This is a terrible mess our government has got us into. I'm going to go vote for an entirely different set of bastards."
In the absence of any hard data, that seems the simplest explanation for how things went down.
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Denmark followed the European trend, so the big winner in yesterday's elections was So What?: only 47.8 percent of eligible voters actually cast ballots. (Some countries saw less than a third of eligible voters turn out.)
The DMG casts her ballot.
Among those who did vote, the Social Democrats enjoyed the most support (32.7%), giving them five of Denmark's 14 representatives to the European Parliament. Venstre, the party of the current Prime Minister, took a bit of a drubbing (19.3%). Having controlled five of Denmark's previous delegation of 16, they will now only have three of 14.
Read all about it (Danish).
Incidentally, this business of there being either 14 or 16 delegates, which figured so prominently in Thursday's Almanac, has been explained to me: Denmark had 16 delegates to the European Parliament, but after the reallocation to accommodate the Union's ten new members on May 1, Denmark lost two delegates.
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At 6pm this evening (CET), Denmark's national team faces off against Italy in the first of their European Cup matches. I guarantee you more Danes will watch that game than voted in yesterday's election.
Birthdays and Holidays
Today is the birthday of Steffi Graf (1969), Yasmine Bleeth (1968), Boy George (1961—when does he become Man George?), Jerzy Kosinski (1933), Burl Ives (1909), and Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811).
It's a national Day of Mourning in Estonia, Liberation Day in the Falkland Islands, and Flag Day in the USA.
© 2004, The Moron's Almanac