Good news and bad news from Europe this weekend. First, the good news from Poland, where the free-market Civic Platform, led by Donald Tusk, received 41 percent of the vote in Sunday's general election. The outgoing government of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski—co-founder of the Euroskeptic, hyper-nationalist, homophobic Law and Justice Party—won't be missed by many in Brussels (or, it seems, among Poland's young, urban voters). Tusk promised that, if elected, his party would push for a 15 percent flat tax on both corporate and individual income and ease restrictions on the hiring and firing of employees. For all of Law and Justice's reprehensible policies (like that delightful suggestion that gays should not be allowed teaching positions), I'll give them a some—but not much—credit for its aggressive lustration policies, aimed at purging Polish politics of collaborators with the Soviet puppet government. The right idea, poorly executed.
And now for the bad news: In Switzerland, the anti-immigration SVP trounced the opposition Social Democrats, who lost nine seats in the lower house of parliament and managed only 19 percent of the vote nationwide. Also distressing, the free-market Free Democratic Party lost voters to the SVP, shedding five seats from the 2003 election. The SVP managed an impressive 29 percent of the vote, solidifying its position as the country's largest political party, and gaining seven seats in the Swiss parliament. The AFP has reaction from Geneva:
"It's the strongest score of any party" since 1919, political scientist Hans Hirter told AFP. The daily Le Matin dubbed the result a "triumph" for the SVP and the architect of its shift to the right over the past two decades, Justice Minister Christoph Blocher. The establishment Neue Zuercher Zeitung, however, warned of "increasing polarisation" in Switzerland.
Here is the vote breakdown, courtesy of Tages-Anzeiger (From left, the major parties listed: Swiss People's Party (SVP), Social Democrats (SD), Free Democratic Party (FDP), Christian Democrats (CVP), Greens (GPS)):