Monday, June 08, 2009



In the US there is rarely much attention paid to the rest of the world, except when (and where) there is violence. Since US businesses can make half their money outside the US that is a little puzzling: One would think Americans (ie US citizens; note: there are other countries in North, South, and Central America) would be extremely interested in world events, world culture, world news, world economics, world politics, world ... (etc)

Since Europe, collectively, together with China, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Russia, Central and South American countries, African and other countries make up the world in which we live, with vital influence on our lives, it is important to pay attention. It does affect us. A lot.

In particular, little notice has been made here of elections to the European Parliament which just ended.

The European Parliament is a step toward integration of European countries, although it has little real power currently. It is slightly more important than simply symbolic, and is a way to measure European sentiment.

The results of the election seem to be a slight but significant move toward conservative isolationism and protectionism, with a nod toward radicalism on both left and right. There are signs of anger at the economic situation and, in England, at the financial scandal (where members of Parliament have charged personal expenses to their government expense accounts).

One exception, however, is that an opponent of the Lisbon treaty (relating to European unification) in Ireland (where the treaty was defeated) was not elected.

A trend toward protectionism and radicalism in Europe is disturbing, but not surprising. Optimism in the US has been rising because of the vigorous, intelligent, broad based, middle of the road attack on the financial crisis and international conflicts (current and potential) that is being pursued by the new US administration. European leaders, however, have been less forceful in addressing economic problems which in some cases (eg unemployment in Spain) are much worse than in the US.

Economic problems and scandals often lead to a desire for change. When the opportunity for a change that can improve the situation is not available, voters may select change that makes things worse.

(It should be noted that these elections are for the European Parliament, not for the actual governments of individual countries, so these elections have little immediate, direct effect on government policies, though they may inspire policy decisions based on a reading -- or misreading -- of voter sentiment.)


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