Or, perhaps their message is: Incumbents beware. We are taking out our frustrations on the parties in power.
Then there’s the chance that neither perfectly captures the mood in France, Germany, Greece and other European countries. Or they could both be true.
Or, they could be doing their own version of the song made famous by Groucho Marx:
“I don’t know what they have to say,
“It makes no difference anyway,
“Whatever it is, I’m against it.”
In Sunday’s French presidential elections, socialist Francois Hollande defeated incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, head of the government for five years as a member of the center-right Union for a Popular Movement.
Hollande, who was aided by running against Sarkozy’s austerity program, said after his victory Sunday, “Too many divisions, too many wounds, too many ruptures, too many cuts have separated our fellow citizens from one another. That’s all finished.”
How Holland will accomplish this while living up to his promise to balance France’s budget remains unknown.
Meanwhile, Greek voters Sunday took out their frustrations on the nation’s most powerful political parties. The Pasok party and the New Democracy party lost support, most likely because politicians from both supported cutbacks aimed at rescuing Greece from the brink of financial meltdown.
Three-fifths of Greek voters cast ballots for smaller parties to the left and right of Pasok and New Democracy candidates.
The same was true in a state election Sunday in Germany. The national governing coalition of Christian Democrats and Free Democrats suffered at the hands of smaller parties such as the Social Democrats and the Greens.
At times like this, incumbent politicians find themselves booted out of office, regardless of their good intentions or the soundness of their policies.
The voters want someone different at the wheel. What comes next may be uncertain, but they are willing to take the chance.