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FiveThirtyEight

Politics

As the home stretch of the EP election campaign rapidly approaches, the major media outlets in Europe have begun to finally cover campaign developments on a regular basis, even as it commands fairly low interest from many voters. In the U.S., the big news outlets have generally ignored the election, with even Reuters and the AP providing little to no coverage.

Not surprisingly, the stories that have emerged in the headlines have largely been event-driven rather than issue-driven, such as Czech Social Democrats leader Jiří Paroubek’s campaign rally troubles:

“When the head of the Social Democrats, Jiří Paroubek, was pelted with eggs at a political rally in Kolín two weeks ago, the reaction in the press was one of amusement and shock. But then it happened again in Plzeň, and again in Kladno, and again in Příbram and Beroun. Mr Paroubek has quipped that the perpetrators would be better off baking a cake than haranguing him on the campaign trail, but the Czech daily Právo reported on Saturday that the mood behind the scenes in the Social Democrat camp was one of agitation in light of these developments.” [Český rozhlas - Radio Prague, 25 May 09]

In general, EU citizens seem to be taking the opportunity to punish incumbent national parties – to the glee of most member state oppositions. This is most apparent to the Anglophone world through the nose-diving poll numbers for Labour in the UK, more MP and cabinet official resignations, and even tougher rhetoric from the Tories and UK Independence Party (UKIP). “The government is collapsing before our eyes,” David Cameron declared earlier today, while the UKIP leader Nigel Farage insisted yesterday that the EP voting that takes place tomorrow “will bring down Gordon Brown.”

All politics is local, after all. Though the election is for Europe, and the issues ostensibly linked to issues of pan-European concern, the campaign has again focused on national politics, national identity, and the political troubles of many governing coalitions.

FiveThirtyEight’s coverage of the election will continue tomorrow, beginning in the UTC morning.

Renard Sexton is FiveThirtyEight’s international columnist and is based in Geneva, Switzerland. He can be contacted at sexton538@gmail.com

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