A quick scan of the headlines: “European election results Battered and bruised” (The Economist); “European elections 2009: far-Right and fringe parties make gains across Europe amid low turnout” (The Telegraph); “European elections: extremist and fringe parties are the big winners” (The Times); “The European Parliament: Now further right and pirate-friendlier” (National Post); “Angry Europe embraces the fringe” (The Globe and Mail); “Fringe Gains Four EU Seats In Dutch Vote” (Wall Street Journal); “The European Parliament: Where the Fringes Flourish” (TIME); “Europe’s shift to the right – Why conservatives, far-right fringe parties, and Swedish pirates won big in EU elections” (The Week); and “European fringe parties set to gain seats in European Parliament” (Vox Africa). And those are just stories that had the word “fringe” in the headline.
As I argue in my New Atlanticist essay , “Europe’s Lunatic Fringe in Charge?” that’s journalistic hyperbole rather than solid political analysis. In fact, the centrist parties won 75 percent of the seats and most of the so-called “fringe” are harmless small parties elected only because Europe’s voting system isn’t winner-take-all like ours.
Photo: Reuters Pictures.