When can a vote of 25 percent be described as a “stunning victory” or even a “political earthquake”?
According to the European establishment, it’s when these votes go to a rabble of odd-ball extremists, ranging from overt racists and even disciples of Adolf Hitler to unreconstructed Stalinists and comically naïve anarchists.
However, the most alarming symptom of political breakdown revealed by the European parliament election is mainstream politician’s hysterical reaction to a perfectly predictable — and justifiable — upsurge of populist anger after the euro crisis.
After all, people have suffered five years of unnecessary hardship as a result of misguided economic policies. Why then should anyone be surprised that tens of millions of voters decided “to give their governments a kicking” as British Prime Minister David Cameron put it? Especially when the European elections provided an ideal opportunity for people to vent their anger with national governments, with no risk of letting the populists get anywhere near true power.
While the media were banging on about the shock and devastation of Sunday’s supposed political earthquake, this benign, and perfectly plausible, interpretation was quietly adopted by financial markets and the European business community.