Lessons from the European elections

 

Sir, – There are two main lessons from the recent European and local elections in Ireland.

First, at the national level, Ireland continues to stand almost alone in the European context (Portugal being another notable exception) in the electorate’s consistent and outright rejection of xenophobic, anti-European and anachronistic politics. For a country that has changed so dramatically over the past 30 years, and that has endured so much in the past 10, this is something that is truly remarkable (and that remains puzzling for analysts).

Second, the widely predicted breakthrough of populists and anti-European politicians at the EU level has been grossly overstated. Indeed, parties that can loosely be defined as anti-European populists topped the poll in France (only barely), Italy, Poland and the UK, but only in Poland did they get a majority, and that of a single seat.

In reality, the vast majority of Europeans voted for pro-European politicians, with more than two-thirds of seats going to MEPs that will sit in the explicitly pro-European groups at the European Parliament (ie the EPP, S&D, ALDE, and the Green groupings), with the balance split between hard-left, hard-right, populists and Independents, many of whom are not anti-European.

As the new European Commission and European Parliament take shape in the coming months, I hope that this newspaper can engage meaningfully with the evidence, and will avoid providing oxygen and column inches to stories about Europe’s failed and divided populist parties, and will instead focus on the many major and pressing matters that Irish representatives will be working with our European partners to resolve. – Yours, etc,

BARRY COLFER,

European Studies Centre,

University of Oxford,

England.

Sir, – Well it looks like the true Green winner in the European Elections was not Dublin’s Ciarán Cuffe but rather Ireland South’s Mick Wallace.

Mr Wallace conducted a successful campaign without the use of election posters that other candidates chose to use, including the Greens.

Ciarán Cuffe and all those other candidates also chose to send leaflets in the post, clogging up people’s green bins up and down the country. Not mine, however, as I popped them all back in the post with an instruction to return to sender!

Surely in this day and age there has to be a better way.

Perhaps the Greens should consult the man in the pink T-shirt or is the Green Party message all sheen but no substance?

Pink is the new Green! – Is mise,

KILLIAN BRENNAN,

Dublin 17.