European Parliament Shifts to Left
LONDON — WESTERN EUROPE'S Parliament has slid to the left as voters throughout the European Community protested against governments in power by increasing support for left-wing and fringe political parties. Results in the elections held in the 12 member-countries of the EC June 15 and 18 show that representation of socialist parties will exceed that of conservatives in the Strasbourg-based European Parliament. The 518-seat parliament is guiding the community toward economic integration in 1992.
With incomplete returns as of Monday, the socialists' grouping was expected to win 181 seats, an increase of 15, and Green or ecological parties were expected to win 34 seats, an increase of 14.
Except in Britain, however, gains by the socialists throughout Europe were not as large as observers had predicted. The biggest winners were the Greens, who got 15 percent of the total vote in Britain, the largest percent in Europe.
One major exception to EC trends was West Germany, where the ultraright Republican Party picked up seats for the first time in what some observers say could be the beginning of a national campaign for a voice in the federal legislature, the Bundestag.
Some Euro-politicians see a left majority forming among the socialists, communists, and Greens. But Belgian Premier Wilfried Martens, a close observer of EC politics in Brussels, doubts this will happen. ``For me it's not sensible that the socialists will form a majority with the communists and the Greens,'' he told the BBC. But, he added, ``I think this parliament will seek greater power.''
Bureaucrats in the European Commission in Brussels favor a stronger parliament in order to extend common policies throughout the community. Until now, the parliament's role has been largely consultative.
In what could be a prelude to more polarized and more ideological politics within the EC, the socialists have announced that they will seek assembly's presidency.
The election results in each country were dominated by national rather than Europe-wide issues. Although the vote did not directly affect national governments, it was a test of national opinion. The most striking results were in Britain where Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party polled only 35 percent of the vote, its worst showing in a national election this century.
Here are selected results:
Britain. Computer projections show the Conservatives losing 14 seats to the opposition Labour Party which is expected to hold 46 of Britain's 81 seats. Mrs. Thatcher, who is expected to hold a national election in two years, now faces the strongest surge of Labour support in a decade.
The Green party, despite drawing an astonishing 2 million voters and 15 percent of the total, won no seats since Britain does not have proportional representation.
West Germany. Chancellor Helmut Kohl survived the referendum on his government but not with the support he needed to strenthen his party's prospects in national elections expected this year. The ultra-right Republican Party, campaigning mainly on immigration issues, won seven seats.
France. The Socialists did not do as well as expected, and a center-right coalition led by former President Val'ery Giscard d'Estaing won 26 of France's 81 seats. The Socialists took 22. The Greens will send nine representatives to Strasbourg, though they have yet to elect a member to France's National Assembly. The Communists lost three seats, continuing their decline.
Portugal. With results not yet complete, the government appeared to lose seats to the main opposition Socialist Party. With an inflation rate of 13 percent, the highest in the EC, the ruling Social Democrats have two more years before the next national elections to rebuild popular support.
Italy. The dominant Christian Democratic Party slipped, along with the Communists, while the Socialists and the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement gained votes. Italy joined France in sending its first Green member to the European Parliament.
Denmark. As the only country with a party campaigning openly for withdrawal from the EC, Danish voters cast 17 percent of their vote for the Anti-EC party. Otherwise, Danes joined the French, Greeks, and West Germans in a swing to the right, going against the strong leftward trend in Britain, Portugal, and Italy.