How Europe’s Dysfunctional Democratic Politics Are Creating Regional Mayhem


European Prime Ministers are now making strategic long-lasting decisions while holding on average just 20% of the popular vote

The current leaders of the European Union are presiding over the largest political crisis since World War Two and have engaged on a seemingly one-way plan in terms of its relations with Russia. Calls for ‘unity’ have been constant, yet criticism remains, although this too is often immediately closed down. For example, the Pink Floyd guitarist Roger Waters has been declared ‘persona non grata’ in Poland and forced to cancel two concerts there – for his criticism against Western policies. Your author has had his Linked In account suspended and been threatened with violence against him for the same.

Yet beneath the surface of single-minded EU unity, trouble lurks. Not everyone is convinced that a single approach that cancels all criticism is the correct one, and there are fears the EU is turning out to be rather less democratic than was ever intended. In fact, the political landscape of the EU shows significant cracks, with the decision-making process being undertaken by minority, not majority elected politicians. I illustrate these as follows, describing the current state of play with the top ten largest European democracies:

Germany : Coalition
Prime Ministerial Percentage of Popular Vote: 25.7%
The most recent federal elections were held in 2021. The result is a government headed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) who with 25.7% of the vote are the largest political force. Germany is subsequently run as a coalition between three political parties with the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Greens, who achieved 11.5% and 14.8% respectively – and – should they remain together, a collective 52% of the popular vote. There is some disquiet that the ruling government is being supported by two political parties who garnered less than 15% of the popular vote each. The current Chancellor is Olaf Scholz of the SDP.
The next elections are due to be held in 2025.

France: Coalition
Prime Ministerial Percentage of Popular Vote: 25.8%
The French legislative elections were held in June 2022 and returned a divided vote. No political party won a majority, meaning that similar to Germany, a Hung Parliament is in operation. Less than 50% of the French voting population took part. The Government is currently organized with a minority Prime Minister, Elisabeth Bourne in place, a member of two political parties, with the larger having gained just 25.8% of the popular vote. If the coalition can survive, the next elections are due in 2027.

United Kingdom: Unelected
Prime Ministerial Percentage of Popular Vote: None
I include the UK here although it is not part of the EU but retains significant influence over European politics and is a member of the G7. It has the third largest voting population in Europe. The UK is currently represented by an unelected Prime Minister, Liz Truss, who has taken over from the elected Boris Johnson as his own party rebelled against him. The UK population was not invited to participate in voting for a new political leader following the fall of Johnson. The next UK elections must be held before January 2025.

Italy: Coalition
Prime Ministerial Percentage of Popular Vote: 26%
Italy has just held national elections which have resulted in a record low voter turnout, and the largest party, the far right ‘Brothers of Italy’ (BI) acquiring 26% of the popular vote. A coalition government is expected to be formed with Georgia Meloni of BI to be elected as Prime Minister.

Spain: Coalition
Prime Ministerial Percentage of Popular Vote: 26%
The most recent Spanish elections were held in 2019, and resulted in a coalition. Voter turnout was the lowest on record. The government is led by Pedro Sanchez, whose party achieved just 26% of the popular vote. Provided the alliance can survive, the next Spanish elections are due to be held by December 2023.

Poland: Coalition, Divided Senate and Lower Houses
Prime Ministerial Percentage of Popular Vote: 43.6%
Poland’s national elections took place in 2019 and resulted in the Law & Justice party taking the lower house with 43.6% of the vote, and forming a coalition with the Civic Platform party, who had achieved 27.4%. The opposition United Right Party however took the Senate with 46% of the vote. The Senate has the power to block Lower House bills. The current Prime Minister is Mateusz Morawiecki of the Law & Justice Party. The next Polish elections will occur in Autumn 2023.

Romania: Coalition
Prime Ministerial Percentage of Popular Vote: 25.58%
Romania’s national elections were last held in 2020, and returned a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party (PSD) achieving 29.4% of the popular vote. However just 32% of eligible voters in Romania took part. Three parties are involved in the coalition, with the current Prime Minister, Nicolae Ciucă, being a member of the UDMR, who attained 25.58% of the popular vote. Ciucă is a retired Military General who fought with NATO in Afghanistan and Iraq. The next Romanian elections are due to be held in early 2025.

Netherlands: Coalition
Prime Ministerial Percentage of Popular Vote: 21.9%
The Dutch elections took place in 2021 and resulted in a coalition government being formed with the largest party, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) attaining 21.9% of the popular vote. They formed a government with the next largest parties, the Democrats 66 (D66) who achieved 15%, Party for Freedom (PVV) with 10.8% and the Christian Democrats who achieved 9.5%. The current Prime Minister is Mark Rutte of the VVD. The next Dutch elections are due to be held in early 2025.

Belgium: Coalition
Prime Ministerial Percentage of Popular Vote: 8.54%
Belgian elections were held in 2019, with the largest party, the New Flemish Alliance (NVA) achieving just 16.3% of the popular vote. A coalition has been formed with members of the Vlaams Belang (VB, 11.95%), and Socialist Party (9.46%). The Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, is US educated, and a member of Open VLD, who attained just 8.54% of the overall vote. The next elections are scheduled to be held in 2024.

Czech Republic: Coalition
Prime Ministerial Percentage of Popular Vote: 27.79%
The Czech Republic held elections in 2021, which resulted in a coalition government being formed. The largest party were the Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (ADS) with 27.13% of the vote. A coalition was formed with the Civic Democratic Party (27.79%), the Pirates Party (15.98%) and the Freedom & Direct Democracy Party (9.56%). The current Prime Minister is Petr Fiala, a member of the Civic Democratic Party. The next elections are due to be held in late 2025.

The European Union
The most recent EU elections took place in 2019, and are voted for not by the EU general population, but by the 751 politicians elected by them. This means that the EUs own election process is one step removed from the ‘One Man, One Vote’ principal.

The largest party in the EU elections were Germany’s European People’s Party with 21% of the vote. The leader of the largest party is usually elected as Commission President, however on this occasion the European Council elected to nominate Ursula von der Leyen as President, which was approved. The European Council is automatically made up of Heads of State or Prime Ministers of EU member states and is itself not fully democratic.

Ursula von der Leyen is a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany, achieving just 24.1% of the popular vote in Germany at the last German federal elections. Her position as European Commission President gives her a wider scope of powers than the man who defeated her in the German federal elections, Olaf Scholz.

The dysfunctional approach to Euro-democracy is easily seen, with a form of ‘elites’ having entered positions of extreme power yet without being in possession of the popular vote. The average federal popular vote carried by the Prime Ministers currently in office is 20.6%, making decisions for 100% of their electorates. In reality their views represent 1 in 5 of the total European population.

This is one reason why the European media has been told to fall into line – questioning the acts of government would significantly damage their credibility and ability to govern – with the sole exception of the United Kingdom, none of Europe’s ruling governments have in any way a popular mandate to govern. All are operated as coalitions.

It is also why any decisions about the current situation in Ukraine, now enveloping all of Europe, have also not been put to the popular vote. This includes serious strategic decisions being made as concerns the entire European population in regards to sanctions, banking, business interests, denial of visas, and massive increases in security and military spending. No European citizen has actually voted for any of this.

The harsh reality is that right now, decisions are being made in Europe by politicians representing just 20% of the popular vote. That is by any reasonable measurement a destruction of the democratic process, achieved by instilling voter apathy and resentments. Europe has ushered in an unrepresentative group of people with minority views, who are now determined to bring in less, not more ‘democratic values’ in order to stay in power.

This means that the forthcoming elections in Europe, which run from now until 2027, seem to be poised to be the bitterest and most partisan yet fought. Quite what this means remains to be seen. But when the European Commission President herself, holding the EU powerbase in her hands, is a politician whose party lost their last federal election, it seems that the unelected, unchosen and unwanted have still found mechanisms to be placed into power. It is a problem that now permeates throughout the EU. Political academics, and the general voting public should be very much alarmed.

Source: Asia Briefing