Confessions of a Political Animal

December 23, 2008

European Left Watch: Looking to 2009

socialist-internationalSince the Animal started tracking the fortunes of Labour’s sister parties in August, there have been four elections in Europe, which have led to centre-left parties entering government in two new countries: as the senior coalition partner in Slovenia and as junior coalition partner in Romania. Meanwhile, the social democratic SPÖ retained the Austrian chancellorship as the senior partner in a grand coalition, whilst the centre left parties lost their position in the government of Lithuania.

What then of the twelve months to come in 2009? There are, of course, any number of imponderables, with non-fixed term parliaments potentially coming to an end, most obviously in the UK. Likewise, despite the fact that there isn’t an election scheduled in 2009, you would be unwise, given the last fortnight of anti-government rioting, to bet against an early parliamentary election taking place.

However, even if no ‘wildcat’ elections take place, there is plenty to be getting our teeth into during 2009, perhaps most notably the German (more…)

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October 31, 2008

Short hiatus and some updates

I am away this weekend (the picture should be a clue as to where) and today looks busy, so probably no posting this side of Monday. Don’t cry too much, please.

However, I thought it might be worth providing some updates on a few of my earlier posts, just so they don’t feel forgotten (and so in some cases the Animal can say “told you so”).

October 28th Is the Game Afoot? The Animal speculated that a prolonged period of single figure Conservative poll leads over the next couple of months would suggest that the narrative about the next election would change, with a hung parliament maybe becoming a stronger possibility than a stonking Tory majority. We’re a long way off a prolonged period yet, and the latest Yougov poll does show Labour moving out a smidgin, but the Tory lead remains (just) within the psychologically important single figure zone. 

October 27th European Left Watch: Out of Office in Lithuania The Animal reported on the defeat for the parties that formed the Social Democrat-led government in Lithuania by a mixture of (more…)

October 27, 2008

European Left Watch: Out of office in Lithuania

Seimas (Parliament) Building, Vilnius

Seimas (Parliament) Building, Vilnius

We reported two weeks ago on the first round of Lithuania’s parliamentary elections. From the first set of results it was clear that the Social Democrat-led coalition was headed for a particularly nasty defeat, with the lead party itself set to arrive in fourth place overall. Well, two weeks on the news isn’t any better, with the constituency seats now declaring.

The Lietuvos socialdemokratų partija (Lithuanian Social Democratic Party) do appear to have done a little better in the constituency run-offs that took place yesterday than they did in the proportional list based seats decided last week – presumably because the power of incumbency for established party representatives allowed some in-roads to be made against the newly-established populist parties who did remarkably well in the list votes. This means that the Social Democrats are likely to be able to claw themselves into second place in terms of Seimas seats, but well short of the resurgent Tėvynės sąjunga – Lietuvos krikscionys demokratai (Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats).

The two new ‘populist’ parties, the National Resurrection Party founded just last year by Lithuanian TV personality Arünas Valinskas who hosts the country’s version of Pop Idol (Politicalbetting considers if (more…)

October 13, 2008

European Left Watch: Going Fourth in Lithuania

Outgoing (almost certainly) PM Gediminas Kirkilas

Outgoing (almost certainly) PM Gediminas Kirkilas

The results of the first round of Lithuania’s parliamentary election, held yesterday, make for unhappy reading for the centre-left. On first round vote shares, the nation’s Socialist International member Lietuvos socialdemokratų partija (Lithuanian Social Democratic Party), until now the senior partner in the nation’s governing coalition under Prime Minister Gediminias Kirkilas, looks set to sink to a deeply depressing fourth place, behind the main centre-right party Tėvynės sąjunga – Lietuvos krikscionys demokratai (Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats).

In second and third place are two new parties which are being widely described as ‘populist’: the National Revival Party, formed by TV and pop personalities with 15.5% and the Order and Justice Party, founded by impeached former President Rolands Paksaswith 12.9%. Mr Paksas was formerly a member of the Homeland Union, prior to obtaining the dubious honour of being the first European head of state to be successfully impeached in 2004, for corrupt practices. He is currently forbidden from leaving Lithuania.

The other major left-leaning party, Darbo Partija (Labour Party), which was founded in 2003 and became the largest party in Parliament in 2004, looks set to fall to fifth place with around 9.2% of the vote. Labour had been in coalition with the Social Democrats until the election.

As is likely to be the case in every general election across the world for the next few years at least, the (more…)

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