Saturday, 26 April 2014

The East/West divide-my perspective

Often in the UK, the North-South divide is spoken of, where the South is more prosperous and more conservative than the North. But I have also noticed in Britain, and also several European nations (and the European Union itself), a different kind of divide- an West-East divide.

This West-East divide, in political terms, can be plainly seen in Britain, if recent election results are anything to go by:

In the 2013 local elections, UKIP gained 147 councillors, but more than 100 of these were elected in councils in eastern parts of Britain- North East England, Yorkshire and the Humber, the East Midlands, East Anglia, and the South East. They gained comparatively fewer councillors in the South West, West Midlands, and North West. As for the Green Party, they gained 5 councillors but lost 6 in eastern parts of Britain; conversely in western parts, they gained 7 councillors in western parts of Britain and lost only 1.

Also, in the 2010 general election, people were more inclined tactically to vote Liberal Democrat in the western parts than in the eastern parts of Britain.

Another nation where a political and cultural West-East divide exists is the Republic of Ireland. Leinster, where the capital of Dublin and the 'Greater Dublin area' is situated, is urbane and progressive, whilst the western provinces of Munster and (especially) Connaught are more rural and conservative generally; Connaught's largest city, Galway, has a population much lower than that of Munster's largest city, Cork. In the 2011 Irish general election, Connaught returned 12 Fine Gael (Ireland's conservatives, basically) Teachta Dailas (deputies to the Irish Dail) out of 20 TDs for that province; Munster returned 21 Fine Gael TDs out of 46; Leinster returned 36 Fine Gael TDs out of 88. (the other 14 TDs come from the three counties of Ulster not part of Northern Ireland, of course). Also, Leinster province returned 4 of the 5 elected United Left Alliance (Socialist, People Before Profit etc) TDs in 2011. 

I am also noticing a stark West-East divide in the European Union psephologically, partly because of the recent history of Eastern European nations. Current predictions by Pollwatch2014 show that out of the 92 Green-European Free Alliance or European United Left-Nordic Green Left MEPs that they predict will be elected this year (important as both these groups are united in opposition to the TTIP and also the European Commission/European Central Bank's current neoliberal agenda in general), 71 will be elected from EU nations outside the old Eastern bloc. This is just a notable statistic, by the way- hopefully, however, progressive and green politics will continue to grow in Eastern European nations where it has not had a notable base compared to nations in Western Europe.




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