Europeans vote with economy in mind

Christopher Werth Jun 8, 2009
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Europeans vote with economy in mind

Christopher Werth Jun 8, 2009
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Tess Vigeland: Some 375 million voters turned out over the weekend for European Parliamentary elections. The economy weighed heavily on the ballot. Unemployment and immigration topped the list of voter concerns. Christopher Werth reports from London.


CHRISTOPHER WERTH: Center-right parties took about a third of the 736 available seats. Conservatives like Angela Merkel in Germany and French president Nicolas Sarkozy have resisted calls for massive stimulus spending preferring to allow cushions like unemployment benefits and health care to soften the blow of the recession. Voter turnout was just 43 percent, the worst it’s ever. Andrew Hilton is with the Center for the Study of Financial Innovation.

ANDREW HILTON: The irony is that as turnout has been falling, the powers of the parliament have been going up.

The European Parliament now controls over two-thirds of European law. But frustrated voters have now elected some lawmakers who think the parliament shouldn’t meddle in members’ states’ affairs; some of these lawmakers want their countries out of the EU altogether. As a further sign of disarray, Britain’s Conservative Party will pull out of an influential conservative bloc in the parliament. The Tories will lose representation on key committees that oversee financial regulation across Europe. Katinka Barysch of the Center for European Reform says that worries the financial industry.

KATINKA BARYSCH: They think maybe they’ll face all sorts of regulation from the less market-oriented governments on the continent that want to now impose regulations on vehicles, such as hedge funds and private equity funds that are predominately located in the United Kingdom.

That would be bad news for London as a financial center and one more blow for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. His Labour Party took third place in the British vote — its worst performance in decades.

In London, this is Christopher Werth for Marketplace.

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