‘Competence versus chaos:’ the slogan believed to have boosted David Cameron to a second term in power as prime minister of the UK.
And promoting stability from the centre-right over the left-wing alternative is a strategy politicians across Europe are starting to emulate ahead of a series of general elections that could see a swing back to the right.
We asked some of our colleagues to describe the post-election ‘feeling in their respective countries.
Due to hold a general election in 2017, French politicians from across the political spectrum used Cameron’s victory to promote their own agendas.
Centre-right former Prime Minister, François Fillon has a dig at France’s socialist President, François Hollande in a blog post congratulating Cameron.
“The British people chose to pursue an economic policy that, unlike that of François Hollande, obtains results from growth and employment.”
UMP leader and former President chose simply to congratulate the PM publically in English.
Heartfelt congratulations to you
David_Cameron</a> on your impressive victory -NS</p>— Nicolas Sarkozy (NicolasSarkozy) May 8, 2015
His possible future rival in the primaries for the right-leaning party’s presidential candidate is Alain Juppé. The Mayor of Bordeaux pointed out that opinion and exit polls can be wrong; a reference to recent surveys suggesting Sarkozy will emerge as the frontrunner.
Bravo à David Cameron pour sa belle victoire. Quant aux sondages… prudence !— Alain Juppé (@alainjuppe) May 8, 2015
Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen’s Front National stuck to the expected script, holding Cameron to his promise of an in/out referendum on EU membership by 2017.
David_Cameron</a> n'aurait pas gagné s'il n'avait pas promis un référendum sur la sortie de l'UE. Il doit maintenant tenir sa promesse ! MLP</p>— Marine Le Pen (MLP_officiel) May 8, 2015
Translation: David Cameron wouldn’t have won without the promise of a referendum on leaving the EU. Now he needs to keep his promise!
Perhaps the most surprising twist in France on the Conservatives’ win came from the ruling Socialist party. MP Bruno Le Roux said French voters would recognise Cameron’s courage to reform, in Hollande. Atlantico website repeated the sentiment, implying that Hollande could learn from the British politician: “An active reform policy can be accepted by the people, even when it means painful measures, once it shows results.”
Hollande called Cameron to personally congratulate him on the election win and has invited him to Paris, once his government has been formed.
In Spain, politicians are also drawing on Cameron’s victory to bolster support for their own parties. Right-leaning Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is holding up the British PM as a shining example of how to beat opposition parties that would, in his opinion, bring ‘chaos’ to the country.
Felicito a— Mariano Rajoy Brey (@marianorajoy) May 8, 2015
David_Cameron</a> por la victoria de <a href="https://twitter.com/Conservatives">Conservatives en las elecciones. Reconocimiento merecido a su decidida labor reformista. MR
Translation: Congratulations to David Cameron on the Conservatives’ victory in the election. Deserved recognition for his decisive reformist work
It’s an interesting strategy for a government that has faced growing unpopularity amid public service cuts, growing inequality and discontent with the quality of the jobs that have been created. But it seems to be working. His popularity ratings have gone up, euronews’ Spanish journalists report.
According to El Pais newspaper, if a general election were to be held in Spain now, Rajoy’s Popular Party would once again be victorious. Spain is expected to go to the polls this autumn (2015).
Portuguese PM Pedro Passos Coelho, is also facing growing unpopularity. People are increasingly looking away from his Social Democratic Party and towards the socialists, according to euronews’ Portuguese journalists. With elections expected between September and October, 2015, he is trying to swing Cameron’s win in his own favour. His reaction: “Everyone expected the British prime minister to lose, but he defeated the odds.”
Fresh from an agreed reform of Italy’s electoral system, Matteo Renzi is also making an example of Cameron’s victory. The new political system bears a striking resemblance to the UK’s ‘first-past-the-post’ system. The reform has provoked strong criticism within Italy, however Renzi is now pointing to the advantages, using the Conservative Party’s victory as a shining example of ‘a system that works’, our Italian colleagues say.
Switzerland and Germany
Switzerland’s leading paper, NZZ, has not quoted specific politicians, but rather referred to a general feeling, Europe-wide, following the UK election. It says there will be negotiations in the EU ahead of a UK referendum, in an effort to agree on a fixed arrangement, which would make EU membership as attractive as possible to Britain.
However, NZZ reports a general feeling of confusion in Europe’s capitals over what exactly the UK wants from the Union.
It also points to apprehension about the ties Cameron is perceived to have broken with former allies in eastern Europe (presumably Poland, although this is not stated), as well as the ongoing tensions surrounding Gibraltar.
Germany’s Der Spiegel says Germany is afraid of the feeling of uneasiness throughout Europe about whether or not the UK will pull out of the EU.