Michael Barone

The opinion pages, economic journals and liberal websites are atwitter (a-Twitter?) these days over French economist Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the Twenty-First Century." Left-wingers cite Piketty's statistics showing growing wealth inequality -- though some have been challenged by the Financial Times -- in support of Piketty's policy response, huge taxes on high incomes and accumulated wealth.

One suspects that many of his fans have another agenda in mind. They'd like to gull a majority of the 99 percent to vote for parties that would put their friends in control of an engorged state apparatus.

There they could stamp out fossil fuels in favor of renewables -- and get all those overweight suburbanites out of their vulgar SUVs and into subways, and out of their ticky-tack subdivisions and into gleaming mid-20th century modern high-rises. (Actually, there is a great city like that: Moscow.)

The only problem is that voters won't cooperate. They don't seem interested in centralized direction from the chattering classes. The protest votes around the world are mostly going not to redistributionist parties of the left but to various anti-centralization parties of the right.

Current polling points to Republican victories in the 2014 off-year elections, and Pew Research reports that 65 percent want the next president to follow policies different from Barack Obama's. Our Anglosphere cousins Britain, Canada and Australia all have center-right governments.

Then there are last week's European Union parliament elections. In Britain, the United Kingdom Independence party, which wants out of the EU and tougher limits on immigration, came in first, ahead of recently redistributionist Labour -- the first time in 30 years the national opposition party wasn't first.

In France, first place went to the more sinister Front National led by Marine Le Pen. President Francois Hollande's Socialist party, which Piketty has supported, won 14 percent of the votes.

The Denmark People's party won there. Parties for which Nazi comparisons are not wholly unjustified -- Jobbik in Hungary, Golden Dawn in Greece -- won seats in those countries. Beleaguered Greece was the only country that lurched to the redistributionist left.

The European fringe parties are not a united lot (UKIP won't caucus with Front National). They express attitudes specific to each nation and lack a common platform. What they have in common is distaste for nanny state liberalism imposed by unaccountable E.U. bureaucrats and executives.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM