European Voters Deliver the Revenge of the Nation-State

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By David Llewellyn-Smith, founding publisher and former editor-in-chief of The Diplomat magazine, now the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics website. Originally posted at MacroBusiness


European elections are in the process of delivering huge swings extremes of the Left and Right extreme. From the Financial Times:

France’s nationalist extreme right turned European politics upside down on Sunday, trouncing the governing Socialists and the mainstream conservatives in the European parliamentary elections which across the continent returned an unprecedented number of MEPs hostile to, or sceptical about, the European Union in a huge vote of no confidence in Europe‘s political elite.

According to exit polls, the Front National of Marine Le Pen came first in France with more than 25% of the vote. The nationalist anti-immigrant Danish People’s party won by a similar margin in Denmark. In Austria, the far right Freedom Party took one fifth of the vote, according to projections, while on the hard left, Alexis Tsipras led Greece‘s Syriza movement to a watershed victory over the country’s two governing and traditional ruling parties, New Democracy conservatives and the Pasok social democrats.

…In Britain, the Nigel Farage-led insurrection against Westminster was also tipped to unsettle the polticial mainstream by coming first or second in the election. The Tories, the biggest UK caucus in the parliament for 20 years, faced the prospect of being pushed into third place.

In Germany, the most powerful EU state, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats scored an expected easy victory, but Germany also returned its first eurosceptics in the form of the Alternative for Germany as well as its first neo-Nazi MEP from the Hitler apologists of the National Democratic Party of Germany, according to German TV projections.

These results are enough to complicate but not derail the European project, for now. There are two ways to look at this. The first is expressed by Gideon Rachman at the FT:

The protest vote is not nearly big enough to be labelled a comprehensive rejection of the EU, its political values and its economic crisis management over the five years since the last European elections. Eurosceptics, broadly defined, are projected to win about 130 of the EU legislature’s 751 seats. Given that the EU has just gone through the biggest financial shock and recession of its 56-year history, the damage could have been greater.

…The triumph of Marine Le Pen and her FN spreads more poison into French politics than at any time since the 1954-62 Algerian war of independence. It makes even more arduous the task of Mr Hollande and Manuel Valls, his new prime minister, in executing the modernising economic reforms on which a healthy Franco-German partnership at the helm of the EU depends.

The UK Independence party’s success will pile pressure on David Cameron, the British premier, and his Conservative party to harden its stance even more on EU issues.

Although there’s not enough in the European shift to derail Brussels, there is more than enough in the domestic political implications for pro-European leaders to weaken their commitment.

The second interpretation is less sanguine. If there is one lesson from pre-war Germany that is worth bearing in mind it is that obstructionist politics is a long term winning strategy for power.

Now that anti-European political parties have a substantial Trojan horse within Brussels, they will likely set to work undermining its efficacy on every front. That, in turn, will win them more seats over time at home and within Brussels as their skepticism delivers a self-fulfilling failure for the EU.

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  1. Peter

    But the main parties and so called ‘experts’ still dont get it – We DONT want a re-jig of the EU, we dont want the Tory party re-negotiating our EU membership … We want a vote NOW, based on how it is now, a re-negotiate/jig changes nothing … All the interviews/reports just show how thick the leaders and their deputies really are … its as plain as their noses on their faces but they are 2 aloof and stupid to see it … so let me say it again … WE WANT A VOTE NOW NOT IN 3 YEARS ON IN/OUT of the EU !!!

    1. lakewoebegoner

      Western European inter-ethnic relations (eastern europeans v. arabs v. africans v. natives) make American race relations look like the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney World.

  2. Bobito

    While I know Spain is a marginal country, of marginal importance to Europeans, the results in Spain contradict the general narrative. The classical right wing got clobbered in the Spanish elections. Parties that can be clearly called right wing (PP, CIU, etc.) got 19 of 54 seats, with a total of about 30% of the vote. The centrist party UPD (in some sense originally a split off from the PSOE), the communists, and Podemos (with no campaigning in the mainstream media), together got 15 seats, which compares quite well with the PP’s 16 and the PSOE’s 14. If you throw in Ciutadans and Los Pueblos Deciden, the “alternative parties” together beat the two principal parties. The vote was against business as usual, and also against the right. In particular, the governing PP got completely wrecked and the PSOE’s electoral free fall continued unabated.

    1. Moneta

      The richer countries are turning protectionist and racist or moving to the right but that is more to contest cheap labor, growing ghettos of poverty and globalization. Essentially getting their country back.

      The poorer countries will not position themselves in the same way because they are part of the poor the richer countries’ right does not want to subsidize.

  3. Christopher Dale Rogers

    I do wish a little more thought was put into this analysis of the EU Parliamentary elections – parroting the FT and MSM outlets does no one any favours in explaining what is happening.

    Now, as a political activist and sceptic of the EU Federal project I have actually cast a vote in this election in the UK, as is my right, and voted Green in the Wales elections last Thursday. The Green Party being pro-European, but with a large caveat, namely that the EU and its institutions are in urgent need of radical democratic reform – a view I share, hence they got my vote.

    Now, I’ve been blogging on the Guardian website for most of Sunday and was awake when results started rolling in from Europe, having got some shut eye and quickly caught up with what’s been occurring across the EU member states its apparent that a significant minority of those that voted share my scepticism of the EU, although this was expressed via populist movement of the right, rather than the left – much of which was driven by domestic politics, rather than a vote of confidence, or non-confidence in the EU itself, or its drift towards a neoliberal superstate, which many are appalled by.

    Below, in a rebuke of another poster, I make the following case:
    “You are deluded to say the least, and your utilisation of the word “SOCIALIST” is so incorrect it makes my blood boil.

    So let me please correct you, at this present juncture across most member states of the EU there are hardly any Socialist parties, the honourable exception being in Greece. As in the UK, the so called established left-of-centre political groupings succumbed to neoliberalism by the end of the 20th century and neoliberal economic prescriptions, as peddled by most EU nations and the European Commission itself, are antithetical to socialism, never mind capitalism.

    The global power elite desire world governance, this is to be achieved via the IMF, World Bank, World Trade Organisation, NAFTA, the EU and various other “free trade” agreement that have nothing to do with free trade, and everything to do with increasing the wealth and power of global corporations and the politicians these corporation purchase the world over – we see this expressed in its full horror in the USA, the home to the neoliberal pipe dream.

    Rather than express shock at the tack to the right that the EU electorate has taken, I take a more nuanced and balanced view, which is that essentially most of Europe’s so called “legacy” political parties, be they left-of-centre or right-of-centre, have morphed into essentially a single body, one infused with neoliberal economics, hence our democracy has essentially become corrupted, as democracy can only exist if there are real meaningful differences between the legacy political groupings – most understand that these philosophical and economic differences no longer exist – essentially they are all greedy power hungry buggers who have abandoned their core constituents – coin obviously being of greater importance than morality, ethics and principles.

    As such, those in favour of true democracy can take hope from these election results, the hope being that many have seen through this charade, that many, despite the mainstream media propaganda and spin, are able to think for themselves and what they see and have witnessed since the GFC in 2008 they certainly do not like.

    As an actual Socialist, opponent of neoliberalism and the globalisation that goes with it, I’m happy that the legacy parties have had a rightful mauling at the hands of fringe rightwing parties, and happy, that if the electorate is given an actual true leftwing choice, it will vote for leftwing parties, as is the case in Greece – that cradle of western democracy.

    Now, I accept that the global ruling elite are quite keen on Socialist principles for themselves, but opposed to the same principles being applied to the majority – hence government taxpayer bailouts for the wealthy, whilst the not so wealthy suffer austerity and gross wealth inequality.

    So please, please do me a favour, do not bastardised the word “SOCIALISM” or utilise it as some kind of catch all phrase of hatred, for basically you undermine your own argument with your lack of knowledge or understanding of what Socialism is, and what it means to many who actually support it, which I can assure you is not totalitarian in nature, quite the reverse, it’s an enabler of political expression and hope, things our masters have denied us for far too long.”

    1. John

      I agree with your argument that the European parties have morphed into single-mindedness. I am stunned with all that has happened there is this indication of being resigned to your fate in order to keep the EU model in place. “Kick the bums out” has not happened. Many people are still oblivious to the fact a lot of the law making is done by unelected bureaucrats here in Brussels. National governments have become ‘butlers’ to EC wishes.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      Bravo, Christopher. The inversion, perversion and bastardization of labels has reached its Orwellian nadir here in the USA, in the Obama regime, an overtly fascist militarist empire, whose puppethead is bizzarely dubbed Socialist-Marxist by muddle-headed dupes of a parasitic kleptocracy. It’s very crafty sleight of mind that’s seized a large population and innoculated “democracy” for now against any inroads from genuine democratic socialism. It’s what the PTB fear most, so they’ve completely inverted it with doublespeak doublethink. I once thought Reagan was a master of perception management, but Obama is a true phenomenon.

      1. OIFVet

        Europeans are wanna-be Americans. The Orwellian nadir you speak of is replicated in most Eastern European countries. Take Bulgaria, for instance: the “Socialist” Party which arose from the ashes of the Communist Party was the one that implemented the “reforms” that are the stuff of the neoliberals’ wet dreams. Flat taxation, high VAT, privatization of most government services and all utilities, payments to government going through private banks with the associated “service” fees, etc. Its incredible how alleged commies morphed into staunch “free-marketeers” overnight. Still that “Socialist” Party still serves as a useful “Socialist-Marxist” foil for those who want to prevent even a minute shift to the left by fear mongering about the alleged “Marxism” of it. Which in turn gives rise to far right nationalist xenophobes which absorbs public anger with the neoliberal fleecing of the country, an anger that in the past and in normal countries would have been channeled into the left. Which, of course, no longer exists as real socialists understand it. The parallel with what is happening in the US is simply breathtaking, and to me at least it means that the neoliberals on both sides of ocean are following the same playbook.

        1. Mel

          ‘hem, ‘hem. That Orwellian nadir was invented in and around Eastern Europe. Y’all can take deserved credit for having re-implemented it far better than anyone expected. Though maybe it was easy. Raw power is raw power, and advertising is advertising.

          Shinseki’s recent comments reminded me: Big brother is happy to announce that he has increased the daily chocolate ration from twelve grams to ten.

          1. OIFVet

            Perhaps, but there is and important difference between the Eastern and Western nadirs: hardly anyone in the east believed the propaganda, while a large majority in the West still believes that it is free and can exercise choice. The latter is rather more insidious, effective implementation, wouldn’t you say?

            1. Mel

              Hard to say, in a country where people aren’t voting and don’t care, what they believe. Peter Drucker noticed:

              “Indeed the danger of total propaganda is not that the propaganda will be believed. The danger is that nothing will be believed and that every communication becomes suspect. In the end, no communication is being received. Everything anyone says is considered a demand and is resisted, resented, and in effect not heard at all. The end results of total propaganda are not fanatics, but cynics—but this, of course, may be even greater and more dangerous corruption.”

              Management – Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices by Peter Drucker.

              I think what I’m looking at could be that. There are a lot of nihilists in these comment threads.

              1. OIFVet

                “The end results of total propaganda are not fanatics, but cynics—but this, of course, may be even greater and more dangerous corruption.”

                Dangerous to whom? I submit this is only dangerous for the ruling corporate fascist elites. In today’s age cynicism is a welcome and highly useful development, a tool for resistance against the creeping corporate fascism if properly harnessed Not that the corporatist Mr. Drucker would agree with such objectives, as his quote plainly illustrates. Cynicism did its part to bring down the Soviet Block (“They pretend to be paying us so we pretend to be working”), it may yet do its part in bringing down the far more insidious system of today and its tools for total control over the populace. Remember comrade, a system is only effective if it can elicit compliance and cynicism greatly degrades the capacity to elicit compliance.

                1. Mel

                  The nihilists I think I see don’t even seem to believe in themselves or their own possibilities. The elites will try to get from this as much as they can. How much? Well, I don’t know, and I suspect the elites don’t know. We haven’t lost the game yet.

                  1. OIFVet

                    Cynicism and nihilism are not synonyms Mel. I am am cynical because I believe there are alternatives to the present system, regardless of what TINA propaganda tries to make us believe. Nihilists believe in nothing, not even themselves as you put it. That’s a rather big difference and its a mistake to conflate the two

        2. ilpalazzo

          Most of Eastern European legacy socialist parties have nothing to do with actual socialist or communist ideals. They are just opportunist party bureaucrats that happened to be in power during the fall of Soviet sphere of influence in the 80/90s. They were very happy to follow the neoliberal prescriptions brought to them by western advisors, probably because most of them didn’t know any better.

          I hear that Czech Republic and Eastern Germany’s Commies are not ashamed to radicalize themselves though.

          1. OIFVet

            Oh, they knew well enough and that is precisely why they transformed from “commies” to “free”- market orthodoxy overnight without missing a beat. They knew that becoming the compradors of the Washington Consensus would both keep them in power and enrich them beyond belief. As corrupt as the old order was it still severely limited the amount these apparatchicks could steal and get away with. The free market “reforms” gave them the cover to steal without limit because the free market supposedly rewards the smart, able, and hardworking.

            1. Marcus

              As I understand it they didn’t even have to steal it. The Washington consensus gang moved in and “advised” them to simply give all state property away to whomever they wanted to (usually themselves, plant managers, party hacks, their families and other insider crooks ) because “property has its own logic”….this is really this essence of the worship of property..doesn’t matter how it’s was. Whether “earned” by being born a Du Pont, taken by force during the crusades or bought up after selecting the winning Power Ball ticket..all that matters is property, it’s “logic” and its regime.

              1. OIFVet

                Yes, technically you are correct. It wasn’t theft, it was privatization to “commie” insiders for a few pennies on the dollar. But try to explain that to babushkas and dedushkas whose whole life went into building these national enterprises only to be left out in the cold by the “privatizers” and their pensions stolen by devaluation. My granny would teach you with a switch about the fine line between “privatization” and theft, even as she’s pushing 90 now.

                1. readerOfTeaLeaves

                  The common theme, it seems to me, is delegitimized government: in the EU, the US, and even in India where they seem to have had quite a surprising election.
                  This process of governments losing legitimacy appears to be manifesting as a general outrage at what might be called The Political Class, who have failed to protect public goods.

    3. Ignacio

      essentially most of Europe’s so called “legacy” political parties, be they left-of-centre or right-of-centre, have morphed into essentially a single body, one infused with neoliberal economics,

      I totally agree with this statement but not everyone does. Then we have to analyse an essential flaw of democracies/electoral systems that was seen long ago by Defoe. An electoral system makes everyone to choose between, typically, two parties. These parties naturally become “enemies” that have to differentiate from each other. What happens when many see that both parties are more or less the same (shit)? You search for another party that clearly differentiate from those. From the electoral results it seems that roughly half of european voters have chosen to differentiate from the “legacy parties” by selecting different alternatives in the political spectrum. Many have chosen nationalistic, others chose socialist alternatives (here I include greens), many have become xenophobic and some “christian”. Those nationalistic/religious/xenophobic alternatives comprise the easy way to differentiate from the indifferentiated core legacy parties. Almost certainly, this shift from legacy parties has been exacerbated by the low participation rates. I believe that with participation rates at levels similar to national elections legacy parties would have obtained much better results.

      There is still a majority that see democracy as a choice between the centre rigth and the center left.

      1. Nathanael

        The two-party nonsense is avoidable by proportionarl representation — which they have in most of Europe, including the European Parliament elections.

        People in the US are ready to vote for “different alternatives” at an even higher rate than in Europe, but we’re locked out of doing so by an archaic first-past-the-post gerrymandered electoral system.

    4. steviefinn

      Very well said Christopher – The Irish version of these Neoliberal faux progressives, namely the Irish Labour party, who were elected after doing a great job of wailing about how one of Ireland’s 2 conservative parties was forcing the poor to bailout the banks, have been dumped big time, after they dumped their constituents in order to get some quality time at the trough.

      Strangely they seem shocked & surprised as does that careerist turd Clegg – Is there something about power that destroys common sense, or is it just plain hubris ?

      1. Nathanael

        I really don’t know why folks like Clegg and both the Irish pseudo-left-wing parties were so stupid.

        Lord Grey knew better in the 1830s.

    5. digi_owl

      Best i can tell, neolib doctrine have become ever present thanks to economists becoming ever present. Basically politicians have ended up deferring more and more to “experts”. And those experts all prescribe the same cure, privatization and competition over tendered public projects. This to burn off the fat of public spending.

      What really happens is that a extra layer of bureaucracy gets grafted on. After all the hearings and such are done, and the contractor picked, the competitors invariably sues for favoritism or other foul play. So on top of the projects getting bogged down in endless NIMBYism, it now gets bogged down in lawyers nitpicking over the rules of the game.

      And once the project gets under way, the contractor hires sub-contractors that hire sub-contractors, eventually stuffing any semblance of profits into some tax haven. Then the projects runs over time and budget, the contractor gets fined, declares bankruptcy, and another contractor has to be found to finish the job.

      Oh how i love free market capitalism… /S

    6. Erwin Gordon

      Christopher, I agree with your sentiment but it doesn’t go far enough. Neoliberal or crony capitalism is just a smoke screen for what exists on both sides of the Atlantic. Fascism (i.e. when politicians and corporations work together for their mutual self benefit). When people say that capitalism has failed they are wrong. We don’t have capitalism, we have fascism. Even your vote for MEPs has no real value because laws are made by the European Ministers and Council and not by the European Parliament. The parliament only gets to rubber stamp it. For a really blatant example, I note how the British Government is working behind the scenes presently to push GMO foods on the population by getting the European Ministers to pass a law giving biotech companies final say on national bans on GMO foods!?! What everyone needs to do is to pause and be clear about all the terms that are being loosely thrown around like socialism, capitalism or neoliberalism. Let’s call a spade a spade. It’s fascism and across our political views let’s focus on things that we can all agree on in order to halt what is happening in the west. First and foremost is the right of citizens to call binding referendums on whatever area we wish in order to take back power from the politicians and corporations, be it on a local, state or federal (either european or US) level.

      1. Massinissa

        I know this is a day late, and you wont read it, but to anyone else, fascism is capitalism in decay. It is the logical endpoint of capitalism.

  4. Working Class Nero

    The important events were in France where Marine Le Pen is succeeding on overturning the Left / Right paradigm and replacing it with a Globalization / Nationalist discussion. She has wisely combined Keynesian economics with border protection (both against trade and immigrants) in order to give labor a chance to control the supply of workers available to capital. She is virulently anti-American and has managed to take a pass on most of the divisive cultural issues that the oligarchs so successfully deploy to keep the various identity factions at each other’s throat while protecting “the minority of the opulent”.

    So France will merge towards a two-party contest between the FN and the UMPS (a portmanteau combining l’Union pour un mouvement populaire (UMP) and le Parti socialiste (PS)). What is interesting is that recently, even the immigrant communities have been moving away from the PS and towards the nationalist right as expressed in Dieudonné M’bala M’bala anti-Zionist movement (that has been severely repressed by both factions of the UMPS).

    Denmark is also important as they have turned nationalist and anti-immigrant (non-Western of course). They saw the handwriting on the walls earlier as non-Western immigrant groups started creating no-go zones and pushing for a sort of independence from the Danish state. Sweden usually lags about ten years behind Denmark so in the near future they may wake up as well.

    UKIP on the other hand is a joke and are basically Tories pretending to be anti-EU. There are NOT anti-Globalization at all, nor are they Keynesians. Their job is to channel the rising anti-Globalization anger on the streets of England towards a safe political reservoir that does not threaten the elites. In fact the UK could be breaking up even before change hits the EU. If Scotland goes, then a domino effect could occur where English people start asking why they should be sending so much welfare money to Northern Ireland — just to keep some of their old colonial glory alive?

    One wonders if Golden Dawn in Greece is not financed by global oligarchs to give the burgeoning Nationalist resistance a bad name? A similar question could be asked about Geert Wilders in the Netherlands who seems more concerned with creating a backlash by making flamboyant attacks on Islam. His alleged links to Mossad should also be a concern as Israel is anything but a friend to Europe.

    But ultimately an end goal has to be stated and for Europe is should be to form a majority block within the EU nations of a sort of ENC (European National Congress) based loosley on the South African precedent which can take Marine Le Pen’s vision for France and expand it to whatever remains of the EU after the rump UK (England and Wales) finally leave. This departure will end up proving once again the wisdom of Charles De Gaulle, this time for his two vetoes on UK membership in the then EEC.

    Of course the oligarchs will not take being tied to almost exclusively European labor passively and will attempt every racial shaming trick in the book to maintain their privileged positions. But more and more resistance is mounting to these race-shaming tactics and although voting for the Front National (or even any of the lesser nationalist choices) will not change much yet, just the fact that the people are finally growing immune to the slimy race-shaming oligarchic tactics is a healthy sign for Europe’s future.

    1. digi_owl

      Meh, the whole left-right axis of politics is showing itself to be woefully inadequate and easily gamed these days.

      You need to add at least one additional axis showing the social attitudes in addition to the economic one.

      1. gepay

        “The whole left-right axis of politics is showing itself to be woefully inadequate and easily gamed these days.” Really existing communism as it manifested itself in Russia and China really did discredit Marx-Lenin-Mao thinking. Hard to say how Vietnam, Cuba, or Nicaragua would have turned out without US interventionism. I imagine many people in what was former Yugoslavia thought their life was better when Tito ruled in his communist dictatorship.
        As Europe and the United States moved to more egalitarian and rewarding merit societies after WW2 they blunted the more intelligent and radical workers.
        This is all changing as the elites harness technology (globalization and computers) so they don’t need massive numbers of labor in the countries they live in.
        Most people don’t care whether there is big government or little government – what they want is good government. They don’t care whether a private company takes their garbage away or a municipal workers as long as it is done at a reasonable cost. Here in the US we need big government to protect us and the environment against the multinational corporations but we have the worst of both worlds – look at the BP caused disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
        They do like equal opportunity. They do want the law to apply to everyone equally. Most people would like to have more choices in jobs than to join the military or be a prison guard or work at a fast food outlet or a motel along the interstate.

  5. ML

    “The protest vote is not nearly big enough to be labelled a comprehensive rejection of the EU”
    –Oh, yeah? What about those who protested by not voting?
    In the attempt to decide what exactly these results mean, one should probably
    consider the level of participation. If my memory of what I heard/ read last night is correct,
    participation in France was (then calculated to be) around 40%. At “Euractiv” they are talking about “high turnout” in German. —“high”? –25.6%
    Other details matter. In the capital city of the Czech Republic, (the country where I happen to be) many voters voted for a pro-Austerity party. In regions of the country that are poorer and have higher unemployment, a Social Democrat candidate did well. I cannot give a proper detailed analysis of what’s going on in Europe (or even Central Europe or even the Czech Republic), but I feel the media is engaged in massive spin.

  6. ML

    Sorry, my punctuation was poorly chosen. German participation was not negative! -25.6; rather 25.6

  7. John

    The old saying, ‘people vote against their own best interest’ still holds, well, at least here in Belgium. The Flemish voted by a large margin, a nationalist, right-wing, pro-business ideologue. An impatient pitbull. He is in favor of dismantling the welfare state to a degree. He wants to curtail the annual indexing (salary raises) and he wants to cut unemployment insurance payouts to 2-years. He wants to separate the north from the south but that is too explosive now. I am sure that will come later. Why would people vote against their best interest?

    Like racially divided politics in the US, the Flemish claim they are tired of paying large sums of money for social welfare in the south of the country. I am almost 100% sure the Flemish would rather lose their annual salary index than pay for extended unemployment insurance to the south.

    What makes things even more confusing, the south of the country voted in a slightly more rightwing block, pushing the socialists to second place. It was seen as a trouncing. Why would the south elect rightwingers who will definitely work with their northern neighbors to trim back on social spending? Less bucks will flow south.

    I am still trying to understand what has happened. I don’t even think the average Belgian understands the consequences of their vote. Perhaps the country is ready for a dose of Wall Street style, failed neoliberal capitalism policies. Belgium has been a standout, although marginally, into holding firm in cutting into social programs as compared to the Netherlands as a result of the financial crises.

    What is different here Europe than in the US is political parties must build coalitions to run the government. It is not a winner take all to governing. What may seem like a slam dunk win can actually be non-existent once back room deals are cut. The nationalists here Belgium fully understand that. Back in 2009 they received the biggest vote majority but they failed to build a coalition because of arrogance so Belgium was without a government for almost 2-years after the voting. Belgium has the Guinness Book of Record as a result of that political brinksmanship. The socialists with the Christian Dems sort of built the coalition and ran the country. The nationalists this time around will almost certainly try to build a coalition. They won’t make the same mistake twice.

    Keep in mind all politics are local. It will be a difficult read on election results here in Europe for sometime. Belgium’s interests are different than France’s, for example.

  8. Ben Johannson

    The triumph of Marine Le Pen and her FN spreads more poison into French politics than at any time since the 1954-62 Algerian war of independence. It makes even more arduous the task of Mr Hollande and Manuel Valls, his new prime minister, in executing the modernising economic reforms on which a healthy Franco-German partnership at the helm of the EU depends

    Notice that supply- side reforms are “healthy” and “modern”, while any other economic policies are “poison”. The shills are growing more desperate; if they can’t keep people in line then they become of no use to their masters.

    1. BigRed

      Right on the money. And I find it remarkable how consistent the mainstream bleats that the rejection of their policies means that they have to stay the course even harder.

    2. EoinW

      Excellent point! FN and UKIP are extremist parties – so the MSM label them. My idea of an extremist party is one that supports the daily killing of people with drones, or starting wars or baiting Russia. Notice how every description is negative: anti-European, trojan horse, obstructionist. Simply put: the MSM no longer has credibility in any form.

    3. ambrit

      Yes, see the phenomenon of “hedgehog” defensive positions used by the Whermacht to slow down the Soviets in WW2. I noticed the bias in that sentence too, and laughed.

    4. TheCatSaid

      Thanks for pointing out the slanted wording. More, please. It is insidious and causes unconscious impacts.

    5. Doug Terpstra

      Good catch, Ben. The desperation is unusually naked. Is that the smell of fear?

  9. ArkansasAngie

    Well … Mainstream politicians are for the status quo. I am against the status quo and would vote for a one-eyed drunken sailor over the status quo.

    Personally … leave no incumbent in office.

    As a capitalistic social liberal I have no voice. The corruption I see amongst the Dems and Reps is unacceptable. Politicians are unafraid of the electorate.

    So … I celebrate! Moral hazard’s a “bitc@”

  10. Moneta

    The protest vote is not nearly big enough to be labelled a comprehensive rejection of the EU, its political values and its economic crisis management over the five years since the last European elections
    Interpretation…With a little chiseling and a good hit, it sure looks like we can still manage to fit those square pegs into the round holes.

  11. vidimi

    i dislike le front national’s immigration and integration policies (for a start) but they are the only main party that is firmly opposed to the TTIP, and that is by far the greater of two evils unless their other policies become violent. given that tyrannies, such as stalin’s or hitler’s, occur when all power is usurped by a few individuals, fear mongering of the nazis at this stage is highly inappropriate since it was the other parties that advocated further abdication of democratic rights.

  12. TheCatSaid

    And Ireland–reduced total vote share for the combined centre-right parties (Fianna Fail and Fine Gail) and severe trouncing of Labour party (nowadays perceived as neo-liberal thanks to supporting EU/IMF/Centre-right bank bailouts and austerity).
    Big gains for Sinn Fein (closest to a left-wing party economically, plus its united-Ireland agenda), which will control the Dublin local government; and small parties & independents. Green Party somewhat recovered at local election level compared to the previous election.
    FF and FG could be argued to be more right wing than centre-right in economic policy.
    People are reacting to the general neo-liberal austerity and reflecting some disenchantment with EU, plus the general scumminess among politicians and high-level civil servants in multiple administrations which has floated to the top. . . (Most recently, scandals in policing and department of justice that reflect poorly on both current and previous governments.)

    1. James Levy

      Within five years of getting their hands on Ulster, the people in Eire will be clamoring to give it back. As someone else said, the nastiest thing the West could do would be to hand Ukraine to the Russians on a plate. Ukraine is a basket case, in hock up to its eyeballs, dominated by a craven elite who have already stripped the country bare. Northern Ireland is a sad, depressing, post-industrial wasteland. I can see Irish-American irredentists being thrilled at unification, but they won’t have to pay for the cleanup or absorb into the political mainstream the bitter offspring of the Provos and the UDF.

  13. Bobito

    @Moneta: It depends what one calls the “protest vote”. In Spain the two big parties received just under 50% of the total popular vote. That’s evidence of something more than “protest”.

    @Christopher Dale Rogers: In Spain the Izquierda Plural won 5 seats out of 54. They are a union of quite classical socialist/communist/syndicalist parties. The new party Podemos, which won 6 seats, does not fit neatly into the old peg holes, but its core rhetoric is directed against neoliberalism and the current economic order that prevails in Europe. Podemos should be one of the big stories – with hardly any campaign in mainstream media – just their leader showing up as a guest (not campaigning) on talk shows – they out performed well established parties, precisely because their discourse is not one of the usual cookie cutter discourses.

    1. Christopher Dale Rogers


      The same can be said of the Greens, anti-neoliberal, pro-European but anti-status quo – despite a lack of MSM coverage in the UK, their vote held up quite well, regrettably, given we have first past the post in all major UK elections the Greens make little headwind, despite taking more than 5% of the vote continually for many years.

      As for UKIP, those who study UK politics will be aware of the rise and fall of the Social Democratic Party led by the traitors from Labour – the Gang of Four – who last living sell-out, one Shirley Williams supports the present ConDem alliance.

      However, we need a lot more analysis and input from posters across Europe to get a better gauge of what’s happened, suffice to say, the traditional left-of-centre parties are doing non-too well, and much of this is due to selling out their respective electorate for coin, namely, pushing neoliberal economic policies, which far from reducing inequality, actually increases it. My take for the UK at least is that Ed Miliband’s Nu-Labour Party needs to jettison the ‘Nu”, apologise for the Blair years and embrace its historical mission, which certainly was not making millionaires of its members or its MP’s – which seems to be the case today.

      The next big vote in the UK will be the Scottish vote on independence in September – which I hope will be a “yes”, without this “yes” vote, nothing much will change in Westminster as the three legacy parties are all presently in denial. Radical surgery is required, and all they offer is platitudes and more supply-side neoliberal economic twaddle.

      Me, I’ll just keep voting Green from hereon in as localism offers an alternative to the neoliberal bullshite rammed down our throats, and mark my words, it will all go tits up again because of another financial crisis, which next time they’ll not be able to plaster over with bailout funds provided from the electorate, as not enough funds exist to repair the damage the next implosion will cause.

      1. Moneta

        The progressives do not seem to get that many of their hard won “rights” were based on old school conservative financing. As long as there was room to leverage balance sheets, the right and money printers let them get what they asked for. What did they care, it was making them rich!

        But now with Debt-to-GDP ratios quickly rising, the right and money makers will be taking away hard won rights one-by-one.

        Decades ago, the progressives should have fought to change the money system but they didn’t because most do not understand it and a good chunk of them keep on saying: “There is more to life than money.”

        1. ArkansasAngie

          Personally … the moment our economy got taken over as “not something to be protected and nourished” but used as an offensive weapon, free markets ceased to exist. This gave justification for allowing financial crimes to be perpetrated. This was war after. Sacrifice and all that.
          In my mind it started with Reagan and has been continued by every last guy since, regardless of party.
          National security is used as a weapon domestically to squelch any disagreement.
          BOA et al only did what “it was told to do.” I mean gosh … I was only following orders … should somebody ever dare to ask about their activities.
          I’ve got more in common with a “Hispanic, Asian gay farmer in New York City” than I do with the folks making decisions in this country. The former … we’re just wedged by distance and propaganda. The former … well … I like to think I don’t have any psychopathy.

      2. OIFVet

        I agree on localism, at this point it is the only viable solution to the one-size-fits-all globalism of the neoliberal sociopaths, be they American empire or EU types.

  14. ambrit

    I’ve read that Sinn Fein was always really Third or Fourth Internationalist in philosophy. Why don’t they reactivate the “Irregulars” and start dispensing some “Peoples Justice” within Ireland?

    1. The Dork of Cork

      Sinn Fein is a pro Europe Jacobite entity.
      Weather people understood their vote or not – their vote was not anti Europe.

      Sinn Fein diaglogue orbits around the euro – it just changes who will benefit and who will suffer from the loss of purchasing power inherent in that currency by simply taxing different people (creating a class war)

      You are in no sense dealing with a radical party of any subtance.
      The marxist Bernedette Devlin called their mark a long long time ago.
      Unlike the Devlin character they most certainly will not create a storm in the Parliament of this other dastarldly union.

      1. The Dork of Cork

        “She survived an assassination attempt, but Bernadette Devlin is best remembered as the 21-year-old Irish republican from Ulster who, in 1972, strode across the floor of the House of Commons to punch Reginald ­Maudling, home secretary of the Conservative ­government. His grave mistake had been to suggest that the ­British army had fired only in ­self-­defence on Bloody Sunday when they shot dead 13 civil rights ­protesters”

        If I recall she was asked afterwards if she was somehow sorry for her actions – her response…………….I am just sorrry I did not throttle the bastard..or something to that effect.
        Now thats what I want to see in the Euro Parliament or whatever it is – Barrasso and the lads getting attacked by some Manic Irish Super Bitch.

        1. The Dork of Cork

          A gutsy woman who could never understand why people could admire her talent and bravery yet disagree profoundly with her internationalist feminist views……She gives us the old canard of Irish people moving to Australia and England and sure was it not great !!!!

          But like all good internationalist marxists she never asks why irish people ended up disrupting English society in the 19th and 20 th century.
          We in ireland did not enrich England……..we destroyed it – it was not our fault but we did it anyway.
          People moved to England because thats where the money tokens were and thats it !!! – it was and is a centralizing banking vortice that destroys societies much like the EU today.
          Both entities were not nations.

          1968 is so fucking over.

      2. ambrit

        Ah well, there goes another cherished illusion.
        You could be right about the Irish capacity for stirring the s—. Something like “Borstal Boys in Brussels” would be refreshing to see.
        Could I be confusing Sinn Fein with the I.R.A.? I had thought that the latter were symbiotic with the former. What goes on here? Al-Qaeda of Dublin it certainly isn’t.

        1. The Dork of Cork

          Ireland no longer has the social cohesion for organized resistance.
          Ireland no longer exists.
          The majority of the workforce under 40 is not Irish !!
          The marxists feminists such Devlin has won in that respect (they served their purpose however honorable their intentions)

          Devlin in the above interview tells us Irish to get off our asses to fight for our job !!
          What jibberish.
          I was in the ground on the shop floor over 10 years ago.
          We were swamped .
          The unions wanted this chaos (vote for Europe) and they got it.

          Beware of progressives who fight for the scaling up of the banking sector under the banner of modernism.
          Modernism has been catastrophic for Ireland.

          People move in and reduce energy expenditure per person – you then get a white flight or a redneck flight.
          Real end use Energy expenditure per person is crashing. because of both inflationary free banking which produces stuff we don’t need and the introduction of more and more 20 somethings which has created a baby boom in Ireland.

          1. readerOfTeaLeaves

            The majority of the Irish workforce under 40 isn’t Irish, eh?
            Partly because of all the immigrants from Eastern Europe, as well as young Irish heading for Australia and Canada?

            1. The Dork of Cork


              You describe the effect and not the cause.
              The cause is of course a further scaling up of the banking system causing ever more pointless flux within society.

              Why must people leave their homes and hearth in search of scarce money ?
              Most of the resource burn within Europe and the world is people burning energy to somehow access scarce money.

  15. EoinW

    Only 25%? That means 3/4 support the mainstream parties. Is it time to reevaluate things? I suppose it is to be expected seeing how apathy has gotten our democracies to where they are today. I want to ask how stupid European voters are? As stupid as voters in every western democracy?

    Setting aside arrogance, I wonder: are Europeans really as badly off as we’re led to believe? Is the alternative media made up of a bunch of hysterics, creating their own anti-status quo propaganda? I don’t believe that last part. It lumps the internet media in with the MSM and the latter clearly are at the point of endlessly pushing outright lies. I don’t believe the alternate media is inventing things. However its armageddon emphasis is looking suspect.

    Conclusion: we are the luckiest souls on the planet! We’ve lived our lives in the wealthiest civilisation in human history. That wealth dividend is so great that even as things are torn apart we still are better off than royalty was a hundred years ago. After a lifetime of “good times” it’s hard for people to support any change. Even hard for them to believe these times are coming to an end. Thus the elites have carte blanche to do as they please. Hard to see what will stop them. Certainly not “democracy”.

    It pains me to admit it but these are the same 1% who oversaw the great material rise of our society that I’ve enjoyed my whole life. Luckily I’ve never liked them and never supported them so I’m not a hypocrite. That hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the fringe benefits of their success. Throughout human history, is the point of the nation state not to make life better for its citizens? Therefore our elites must be credited with the greatest achivevement of them all. We’re so well off we have the luxury of worrying about the well being(or lack of) of others.

    Now if only we could hit the Pause button and stay exactly where we are forever. Alas, all actions have natural reactions. I imagine there were plenty of hot times in Sodom and Gomorrah – Party Central! Auntie Mamie is right, life has been a banquet for us. A shame about the fire and brimstone.

    1. Banger

      Material wealth, after a certain point, becomes toxic and the result, as we see in the U.S., is stress, mental illness, denial, fantasy, fantasy and more fantasy. We know, as a result of social science the toxic aspect of wealth that goes beyond real needs. People in Europe who are hell-bent (and it is Hell they are seeking–I define Hell as C.S. Lewis did, i.e., radical isolation) on imitating U.S. culture perhaps because of movies need to think twice about their affection of neoliberalism, radical narcissism/selfishness–it isn’t going to put many smiles on many faces.

      The post-Enlightenment Project did, in many ways, promote conviviality but too much of a good thing has worked against it. We need to now slow down on the culture of acquisition and materialism and cultivate new values because the planet cannot and will not tolerate more of the same.

    2. The Dork of Cork

      Capitalistic overproduction – seen at its most extreme in Euro countries causes a shortage of purchasing power to buy basic goods.
      People no longer have the tokens to engage with their local community on any real level yet have a surplus of toys.
      You see a predictable general breakdown in society as seen In Europe since the very beginning of the EEC.
      The losses from this breakdown of society can no longer be hidden

  16. Banger

    Many of these right-wing parties coming out of the woodwork, so to speak, are very interesting. The left likes to ignore issues of immigration, which is kind of sad, because in the U.S. illegal immigration is an issue the left (such as it is) has nothing to offer in light of the fact that immigration is encouraged by the oligarchs as a way to lower wages and make working conditions worse–the U.S. does not really seriously enforce immigration laws and whenever anyone brings up the fact that this immigration is not legal he or she is shouted down as a “racist” and thus the bosses win on all counts. Mind you, I don’t have a solution to the issue of immigration–but I am sensitive to the condition of workers. An workers have nowhere to go but to the populist right because they see directly, as opposed to the professional classes living in their elite ghettos, the end-result of immigration not just in jobs.

    Also, and this may be part of the issue in Europe, we live in a moment in culture when Western peoples have begun to understand that culture and tradition provides an anchor and that the hedonistic culture that is stuffed down our throats in the media 24/7 has a limited shelf-life. Yes, we have liberated ourselves from the old prejudices (to some degree), loosened up the hips, discovered that sexuality need not be so narrow and now what? Where to we find meaning? What does it mean to be alive? Is my life defined strictly by how well I please myself? Is it any wonder that the greatest threat we face collectively is more or less ignored? Climate change could well create a series of unpredictable catastrophes and the simple steps we could take are not being taken simply because it would create a move away from the culture of narcissism and towards a culture of cooperation, sharing, and synergy.

    Since the more rational types and the left chooses to ignore the real concerns of people they will, increasingly turn to the right as they have in the U.S. May God have mercy on y’all in Europe. BTW, I recognize that the EU vote does not mean the essence of neoliberalism is being rejected–but Europe is moving in that direction in some areas.

    1. casino implosion

      As a construction worker exposed to the views of “racist” anti-immigration co workers all day, every day, I can attest to the correctness of your views.

      The left is dangerously out of touch.

      1. ambrit

        Casino implosion;
        I’ve worked a lot of commercial construction, and endorse your observation fully. I noticed that the younger and less skilled workers, not necessarily the same group, had knee jerk anti everything attitudes. This was seemingly based on personal ego problems and or low educational achievements. Re-educating them towards more rational viewpoints generally involved trying to get them to do the hard work of learning to think for themselves. Results were, to say the least, spotty. The generally older and more ‘responsible’ workers were somewhat hide bound. They had usually conflated their success and continued success with conformity to the prevailing orthodoxy. These people usually fit the definition of Sinclair Lewis’ willfully blind. They were much harder to reach and reason with. Now that the neo-liberal elites are destroying the myth of education and personal will as guaranteed paths to success, there is hope.

        1. James Levy

          My problem is the hate–why hate immigrants? And let’s be fair to the Left: much anti-immigrant talk is made by people who are avowedly anti-union, anti-tax, and pro-market, so their bona fides as soldiers for the forgotten working man are a little thin. And people on the Left are not just hearing rational appeals to end immigration for economic reasons (which are valid), but arguments filled with race-hatred and shockingly stupid prejudice. I don’t hear much “I love and want to help my native-born black neighbor, but the Sikhs, Koreans, and Israelis who show up with duffle bags full of cash they got god knows how should be all be sent on the next plane back where they came from.”

          There is an honest, defensible argument against immigration, but their is also a racist one. To pretend that one is the other, on both sides, is a mistake.

        2. Banger

          Great comment.

          The problem with most people but particularly the less educated working class population is that they hold a logically inconsistent mish-mash of notions and memes they’ve sort of accumulated but don’t have a clue on the fact they hold blatantly contradictory beliefs nor do they even know it is possible to think straight–which leads me to the greater tragedy. The intellectual classes including the media, educators, politicians, industry leaders and so on similarly hold contradictory and ludicrous ideas only they couch it all in a smoother, somewhat less contradictory way but with same mediocre sorts of assumptions.

          1. steviefinn

            There is another aspect to the immigration problem in Europe which involves those from the periphery countries in Europe most hit by austerity measures. It involves the mass emigration of the young, many who would be graduates, to Northern Europe in particular Germany.

            As it looks unlikely despite the BS that the periphery countries will soon become somewhere one might like to bring children up, it is possible that a large percentage of this talent will stay in their adopted country. Something that will also contribute to & worsen what is already a 2 tier Europe.

            The Irish I think mainly go to Australia which itself is starting to feel the strain. The Irish government actively encouraged this as perhaps others have too – It makes me wonder what the horrific youth unemployment figures would be like if these poor kids had stayed at home.

            I read somewhere not long ago that Latvia is only barely functioning as an economy due to half the population having left.

  17. Pokey

    “Thus the elites have carte blanche to do as they please. Hard to see what will stop them. Certainly not ‘democracy’.”

    Very perceptive. But the apocalyptic tone you criticize is because of a perception that the gains in social protection of the 20th Century in the West are at risk and are being eroded every day. Some of us hope that sounding the alarm before conditions get much worse will prevent a recurrence of the violence of extreme nationalism as in Hitler’s Germany which could have developed only in conditions of great economic distress. If we in the U.S. did not have the safety net from the 1930’s, the Depression of that era could have been dwarfed by the recent one, and you know what happens when the U.S. sneezes.

    How is it that the parasitic rentiers brought us this prosperity that we enjoy? I thought it had something to do with the productive elements of society.

  18. as promised

    To my untrained eye, it seems that the gains made by far-right and protectionist ideologues is because of average people not understanding what ails them. The same could be said of the US and Australia. People blame current forces when we are actually still reeling from Wall Street’s 2007-2008 debacle (which had truly global consequences) and attempts at the failed “austerity” model.
    When people are scared, tired, demoralized they are looking to close ranks and cast blame. They become pliable targets for those with selfish agendas.

  19. bmeisen

    The success of nationalistic, anti-EU rhetoric as well as the annoying stickiness of the EU’s anti-democratic tag are ironically due in part to an excess of “democracy”. Participation in the EU parliament is obtained via a qualified proportional system that does a better job of defending the interests of minorities than the single-member-district-plurality or “first-past-the-post” system that dominates in the US and the UK. Furthermore the EU’s proportionality is contorted by statutory country-based limits on the number of representatives. IN other words, proportionality in the EU parliament reflects both party and country. To make the system even more complex, the parliament lacks a participatory threshhold. This encourages unusual figures to take a shot at getting a seat. It’s in fact democracy to a fault – another area in which the EU is showing slow progress on the learning curve.

    1. OIFVet

      That’s an interesting take, but what does the EU Parliament matter in the grand scheme of things? This is not where EU power resides, that is found with the vast unelected bureaucracy and institutions such as ECB. Are these two accountable to anyone but the elites whose interest they serve?

      1. bmeisen

        the big scheme of things in the eu is democracy and how to get it to work in a relatively large group of more or less democratic traditions. Arguably the parliament is democratic to a fault because it was not allowed to have much more than symbolic character. The commission was controlled by the democratically elected heads of state. Reforms have given the parliament a crumb of real power. This election shows that to deserve mord power the parliament needs further reform. I hope we move away from national/party proportionality to a party proportionality with 5% participatory threshhold. This would require pan-EU parties, for which there are better chances than an EU finance ministry.

        1. OIFVet

          More centralization will not solve any of the problems with the EU, it will only give more power to its bureaucrats. You talk about “democratic institutions” and “democratically elected leaders”, I see the triumph of TINA where the choice consists of whether the elites will use KY jelly while politically and economically raping the citizenry and the south or skip the expense altogether. Now that the far right is offering some real choice we see just how many europeans are fed up with the pretend democracy you speak of.

  20. shtove

    75% of UKIP supporters approve of nationalising the railways and energy companies. 60% approve of rent controls. Very right wing. The electorate seems confused, and a big chunk feels ruling parties are worse than useless.

    1. President Costanza

      The UKIP’s platform is right-wing (by British standards, not American standards) even if its supporters are not. Many UKIP supporters feel that the Establishment has failed them, so they vote for the party that is anti-Establishment, even though that party is hostile to socialism.

  21. James Levy

    “It makes even more arduous the task of Mr Hollande and Manuel Valls, his new prime minister, in executing the modernising economic reforms on which a healthy Franco-German partnership at the helm of the EU depends.”

    Nothing I hate more than euphemisms. What he means is “the policies of screwing over workers, the poor, and the elderly so that we can keep our corporations happy and profitable and the rich and their money in-house so we maintain a reliable tax base and don’t piss off the bond markets.” The is nothing “modern” about this. It is Dickensian. Are the people at the Financial Times really so afraid that the proles are going to read their paper and suddenly “get” what’s going on? Can’t anyone, anywhere simply tell the truth and stop hiding behind newspeak like calling immiserating your neighbor “reform.”

  22. KFritz

    As I understand the situation, the questionable rapid expansion of the EU, and the absolutely ill-advised creation of the Euro(pean Monetary Union) were both the work of overweening, over-empowered Brussels technocrats and their kindred throughout the EU. Again according to my understand, yoking the Euro to the EU is responsible for a fair amount of the EU’s plight. One lesson that can be drawn from the situation is that overweening technocrats, mostly unempowered in the US, can be just as destructive as ueber-capitalists. Both need to be contained from wielding too much power.

    As a contritutor, if not THE contributor to Western European peace for the last fifty odd years, the EU is worthy institution. It’s a shame, but understandable, that some of the very people who have benefited most from the EU, are now threatening to torpedo it.

  23. /L

    “And the most hysterical language is coming, not from the insurgent parties, but from the Eurocrats. The EU president, Herman Van Rompuy, fears that the whole European structure will be blown away by the ‘winds of populism’. (Populism is a favourite Eurocrat word, meaning ‘when politicians do what their constituents want’ — or, as we call it in English, ‘democracy’.) […]
    In the solipsistic world-view of the Euro-integrationist, …: any Eurosceptic is, ipso facto, extreme.
    Listening, month after month, to the EPP leader, a German-speaking Alsace farmer called Joseph Daul, and his Socialist counterpart, an amiable Austrian called Hannes Swoboda, I genuinely struggle to see any great ideological divide between them. …
    the big gains will be made by euro-critical parties. Paradoxically, the result will be to drive the EPP and the Socialists even closer together, propping each other up like two exhausted boxers at the end of ten rounds.

    We can be certain that they will cling to their demands for ‘more Europe’, whatever the economic reality and whatever the wishes of their constituents. For five years, their policies have caused unemployment, deflation and emigration across southern Europe, while the IOUs pile up in northern Europe. Nothing makes them question their faith. No amount of suffering, no amount of debt moves them to admit that the single currency might have been a mistake. They are, literally, beyond argument. Which raises the question — who are the real extremists here?”

  24. Min

    “Now that anti-European political parties have a substantial Trojan horse within Brussels, they will likely set to work undermining its efficacy on every front. That, in turn, will win them more seats over time at home and within Brussels as their skepticism delivers a self-fulfilling failure for the EU.”

    “Self-fulfilling failure.” Sounds familiar. (In the US.)

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