The European elections' campaigns across EU
Adelina Marini, Patrick Smyth, June 2, 2009
The European elections campaign is in its peak now but this year, like before, the main issues in member states again are internal. euinside asked some of its colleagues across EU how the campaigns in their countries go on. Here's what Patrick Smyth, Foreign Editor at the Irish Times wrote, especially for euinside:
The Irish European election vote on June 4th coincides with local elections and two by-elections to Parliament. In all cases the issues are the same - the state of the economy and voters' anger at what they see as both disastrous mismanagement by the main Government party, Fianna Fail, and the latter's historical association with bankers and property developers who are blamed for the crisis.
The latest Irish Times poll, published today (Thursday), shows that FF (20%), until recently the largest party in the State, has been overtaken by two other parties, the conservative Fine Gael (36%) and social democrat Labour (23%).
FF, a conservative nationalist party, is in coalition with the small Green party. It has also been affected by the publication of a major report detailing years of abuse of children in church-run institutions. When the scandal broke a decade ago the party controversially brokered an agreement which limited the legal liability of the Church for damages to €120 million. Damages awarded since have totalled close to €1 billion, with the state picking up the balance of the bill. Although Ireland will vote again in October by referendum on the Lisbon Treaty which voters rejected last year, it has not been a significant agenda issue in the campaign so far and polls suggest it will now pass comfortably (by roughly 63%). Voters appear to have been convinced by the depth of the economic crisis that we need the EU more than ever, and the government has negotiated a series of protocols with our European partners that will also provide reassurances on key issues like neutrality, abortion, and taxation.
A new anti-Lisbon party, Libertas, founded by controversial Irish businessman Declan Ganley and running in several EU states, is likely to do poorly in the European election and Ganley may not take a seat. If that happens he has promised to resign as the party's leader.