With the European elections almost upon us, I figured I’d present a quick round-up of what stories are being covered by the media throughout the continent. Based purely on a single, unscientific glance at what currently has the most “related stories” on that country’s google news page. Given that this can literally change from minute to minute, it’s hardly something to which a lot of meaning should be attributed. So fair warning, and on with the round-up…
I myself have been preoccupied with the expenses katzenjammer of late, so I can hardly blame Britain for it’s preoccupation. I’ve found it endlessly fascinating from the standpoint of group psychodynamics as well as psychologically interesting on the level of individual MPs. See, I have some theories about the nature of political power and the effect it can have on both groups and individuals. And this scandal is like a public demonstration of my views. All wrapped up in a thick blanket of genuine absurdity… with moats and duck-islands and claiming back unpaid taxes on expenses. I think it’s fab. But while lots of people are speculating about the impact this will have on the election results, there’s not many people actually discussing the elections themselves.
Well… excluding all the talk about how well the ultra-nationalist BNP might do. The elections are being covered from that angle, sadly enough. I don’t see the BNP as quite the threat that many view them as. Not because I don’t think they’re reprehensible. They are, and I do. But because I think they’re incompetent. If they were to get an MEP or two, I suspect it would result in the party splintering within a couple of years. Of course, I want to see them do badly. But I think a small taste of power could do serious damage to them. Clouds and silver linings and what have you.
I’m doing something of a disservice to the French here. The elections have a media profile (according to my own unscientific assessment of the google news sites) slightly higher than the scientology trial. Sarkozy appears to be talking tough on crime because of the rise of the far right. So we’re unlikely to see a Gallic drift leftwards during this election. Isn’t it weird how the far right so easily sets the agenda for the centre right, but for the past three decades the centre-left has been steadfastly distancing itself (policy-wise) from its ideologues? I’m (honestly) not making any value judgment there; it’s just an observation.
Germany: Opel talks break down in Berlin
It’s all about the economy in Germany, but it’s not really feeding into the elections all that much with the whole nation, government, opposition and population united in their frustration at General Motors. Seems like they were in the process of signing the contracts that would allow the German government to begin financing Opel when someone noticed that a GM representative had scribbled “oh, and another €300m as well. Plees.” onto the document in crayon.
The Greek media is focussed equally on the elections and swine flu. They seem a good deal more concerned about the virus than anywhere else in Europe. Hard to tell why as they’ve not had a disproportionate number of cases. As for the elections; it’s a familiar story. The party in power is being accused of corruption and running the economy into the ground. A backlash is expected. In this case it’ll be a lurch to the right. All depends on who is in power really. If Pasok was the party of government, then the lurch would be leftwards. Greek, Dutch, Irish, British, German… we are all of us an unimaginative lot when it comes to casting our ballot.
Here in Ireland, understandably enough really, the focus has been on the Ryan Report. Seems the institutions of the Catholic Church have managed — somehow! — to emerge from the Ryan Report looking even worse than anyone imagined. It’s harrowing. My own time with the Christian Brothers (one of the congregations covered by the report) contained nothing remotely close to the severe and sustained abuse revealed in the report. But I’ll never forget the atmosphere of the place. The constant threat of “the leather” keeping us all in line. It’s perhaps unsurprising, so, that in a time when the nation is reliving its collective childhood trauma, the media aren’t as interested as they might be in the European elections.
OK, seems like the Italians don’t really have their eye on the ball right now.
Netherlands: World scrambles to find response to North Korea
For reasons I can’t explain, the Dutch are far more worried about the whole North Korea thing than anyone else in Europe. Leastways if my glance at google news Netherlands is anything to go by. They are waaay more preoccupied with news from Pyongyang than they are with who they’ll be sending to Brussels. Let’s all hope they’ve got their priorities wrong on this one.
The Polish media seems to be talking about the elections alright. And like in Germany there’s a heavy emphasis on the economy (hardly surprising in the midst of a global recession). The shipyards story is really the first time that Pawel Public has had a decent excuse to get pissed-off with the EU, so it’ll be interesting to see what kind of effect this has on the polls.
See what I did there?
The day after Barcelona wins the Champions League probably isn’t the best time to do a quick survey of what’s happening in the Spanish media. A closer look, however, would seem to suggest that in truth, the Spanish media are all over these elections. There appears to be a national debate underway between the socialists and the free-marketeers. The outcome of this debate will doubtlessly heavily influence the kind of MEPs that’ll be making the trip between Spain and Belgium.
Either that, or the Spaniards will just vote against the government like everywhere else.
Anyhoo, that’s it for now. I know that only covers a small number of the nations voting, but this was only a glance around Europe after all.