Sunday, 14 June 2009

Analysing the EU election Results

(Primary version of this is my Apple blog Barry Stocker's Weblog, which includes graphics)

In the graphic above

Dark Red is the radical left GUE/NGL: (European United Left/Nordic Green Left)

Red is the centre left PES (Party of European Socialists)

Green is the Greens/EFA (The Greens/European Free Alliance)

Yellow is the liberal ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe)

Blue is the centre right EPP (European People’s Party)

Dark Blue is the eurosceptic/radical right UEN (Union for Europe of the Nations)

Purple is the eurosceptic/radical right ID (Independence/Democracy Group)

Grey is Members of the European Parliament outside any group and mostly contains extreme right or eurosceptic right MEPs.

UEN was less radical right overall than ID before the 2009 elections because it contained the centre right Irish party Fianna Fáil which has now moved to ALDE, and the National Alliance in Italy which had Fascist roots but adopted a very moderate right position, more so than Berlusconi or the Northern League, before merging with Berlusconi’s party as People of Liberty which is an EPP member party.


The centre right increased its margin over the centre left but also became more divided. It still increased it’s margin over the centre-left after British and Czech parties bolted.

The extreme right has become considerably stronger though is still small.

There has been a victory of a kind for the right in between the major centre right group (EPP) and the obvious extremists which may form the basis of a new eurosceptic group, but only because the British Conservatives and Czech Civic Democratic Party are defecting from the EPP. Without that defection, this part part of the right is shrinking. The space between the EPP and the extreme right occupied by UEN and ID lessened in numbers of MEPs.

A new eurosceptic right group will be dominated very heavily by UK Conservatives, and will be divided between clearly centre right parties and more populist anti-liberal parties flirting with the extreme right.

A new eurosceptic group could easily overtake the Greens/EFA as I believe there could be a maximum of 65 MEPs in such a group. I doubt that will happen, but the three core parties of a such a group would be British Conservatives (and Northern Ireland allies), Civic Democratic Party in the Czech Republic, and Law and Justice in Poland who total 53 MEPs (to the Green/EFA 41). I do not predict the group will happen, as I explain below there are good reasons why the Czech and UK parties should go back to associate status with the EPP, but it may happen.

The liberals (ALDE) have have had a very slight improvement.

The Greens have had a slight improvement.

The PES has declined.

GUE/NGL has declined.

There has been a move from the centre left and radical left to the right.

It looks like the centre left and radical left is losing working class support to the right, and particularly the extreme right.

This confirms a shift in the working class vote from class identity to national-ethnic identity.

My analysis takes its basic electoral facts at the national and European level from the Results of the 2009 European Elections website




Note on Fianna Fáil

FF is not liberal in ideology. It refers to itself now as republican in the sense of liberty, equality and fraternity. Historically, its republican ideology refers to radical opposition to Irish union with Britain, so it has moved from a very nationalist party to a centrist to centre right pragmatist party. It joins a part of ALDE which is centrist, sometimes descended from moderate socially oriented Catholic Conservatism (MODEM in France, Basque and Catalan regionalists in Spain) or a middle ground political movement like Italy of Values-Di Pietro list in Italy which unites people from a variety of political backgrounds behind Antonio di Pietro. The increase in ALDE representation from FF is not an artificial boost, if we remember that it is more than balanced by the shift of the Daisy-Margherita alliance of ex-Christian Democrats, centrists and centre leftists from the ALDE to PES through merger with the Democratic Left in the Democratic Party.

Also from the results of the 2004 and 2009 elections as announced on the BBC website.

Shifts in National Votes which made a difference to the EP Groups

GUE-NGL did badly in Italy; well in Ireland, Portugal

PES did well in the Czech Republic; badly in France, Hungary, UK, Portugal

Greens did well in Franc; badly in Italy

ALDE did well in Germany, Italy, badly in France, Lithuania

EPP did well in France, Portugal, Poland; badly in Germany, Romania

UEN did well in Poland; badly in Latvia

ID did well in Poland

The extreme right did well in Hungary, Netherlands, UK, badly in France, Italy.

The movement towards the extreme right

Losses from Belgium (Flemish Interest), Italy (no extreme right MEPs) and France (National Front) total 6, gains from Hungary, Austria, Greece, Slovakia, UK and Netherlands total 13. Romania and Bulgaria brought in 3 + 2 as new member states. Representation of the most clearly extreme right parties has gone up by 12 to 27, so nearly doubling.

Mistakes in Standard Interpretation

Though the centre-right increased its support, this is not such a big shift as supposed.

The German centre right (CDU-CSU) lost votes on a big scale but because it was still more successful than the centre left (SPD), this was referred to as a victory.

Germany was a victory for liberals in terms of the movement of votes, though still as the fourth party.

Though the centre-right parties increased their support after stripping out the effects of the British and Czech departures, the main centre-right group EPP shrunk and if we still count the British and Czech centre-right as part of the broad centre right with EPP, they still have a negative impact as the British MEPs stayed the same and the Czechs lost MEPs.

Evolution of the Right

The result for ‘Others’ reflects the defection of the UK Conservative Party and the Civic Democratic Party in the Czech Republic from the EPP. These two parties are committed to forming a new eurosceptic centre-right group. Some of the partners would come from UEN and ID which would then collapse, but the Conservatives and CDP may regard some of them as too extreme. Which they will regard as intolerable is hard to tell and the boundary is likely to be drawn in a very arbitrary way. Notable increases in extreme right representation came in the UK, Hungary and the Netherlands. This gave Hungary an extreme right party with a major electoral presence for the first time in the post-communist era. The extreme right in the UK got representation above the local level for the first time ever. The Netherlands had a significant radical right before with the Pym Fortyn List. It looks to me as if 27 to 68 extreme right MEPs got in, the 41 MEPs in the grey area constitutes parties (27 MEPs in Italy/Northern League, France/Movement for France, Netherlands/Christian Union, Sweden/Sweden Democrats, Latvia/For Fatherland and Freedom, Lithuania/Order and Justice, Poland/Law and Justice, Denmark/People’s Party) the UK Conservatives may join with in a new group, plus the United Kingdom Independence Party (13 MEPs which the Conservatives will definitely not include). The UK Conservatives vehemently deny that they are talking to any party that should be defined as extremists. Nevertheless, at the very least, they tend to look like the moderate face of extremism and do not share the British Conservative leaning towards free markets and global free trade. From the information I’ve seen the Conservatives are explicitly or implicitly considering partnership with all these parties except the Northern League and the People’s Party, and I would not exclude them joining with those two. Their clearest relationship is with Law and Justice in Poland.

The Detailed Picture of a Possible New Eurosceptic Right

The UK Conservatives and Czech Civic Democrats have defected from the major centre right grouping, EPP. If they succeed in forming a new eurosceptic right group, this will be much more conservative than the EPP, though UK Conservatives are trying to deny this. The reality is that it is only the Czech Civic Democrats can be regarded as clearly centre-right, and the Dedecker List in Belgium could be regarded as close to the centre right in a conservative- libertarian kind of way (small government and mostly socially tolerant). Even the Dedecker List might be regard as anti-immigrant though, taking a very restrictive view on new immigration to Belgium and and arguing for the anti-immigrant right to be allowed into the political mainstream in Belgium. There are endless shades of grey in these parties with regard to how far they are centre right and how far extremist. In any case, a new eurosceptic group will inevitably be the British and Czech centre right, allied with parties which apart from the case of Belgium are populist right in economics mixed with very strong social conservatism, particularly with regard to religion, gays and immigrant. Part of the centre right in Europe will be aligned with the radical right however much British Conservatives try to finesse this by claiming that only few people in potential partner parties are ‘really’ extreme.

Balance between Groups

The EPP has still grown if we strip out the effect of the UK and most of the Czech centre right leaving. It has maintained a gap of about 10% over the PES, despite the departures. This is helped by the integration of the Italian National Alliance, but is not entirely explained by it. Good results in France (Union for a Popular Movement), Spain (People’s Party) and Poland (Civic Platform) have increased numbers and they done well in some smaller countries like Ireland (Fine Gael), Portugal (Social Democrats and People’s Party), Sweden (Moderate Party) and Hungary (Fidesz).

The decline in the radical left vote is roughly cancelled out by an increase in the Green vote, but the vote of the left as whole has declined because of bad results for the centre left, and there has been a decline of the PES in relation to the EPP. ALDE has improved very slightly in relation to EPP and increased in relation to PES. EPP, PES and ALDE have all been losers in the sense that these are the federalist groups in the parliament, and federalism has been the loser. These 3 together have declined, and there has been a decline, again, in the percentage of the electorate voting in European elections. Because the European Parliament largely works on consensus between these three groups, and really mostly a consensus between EPP and PES excluding ALDE, no difference is going to be made to political balances in the European Parliament. However, it looks like there is a trend towards a eurosceptic right which has the UK Conservatives and Czech centre-right as its moderate wing, and neo-fascists as its extreme wing. This poses the possibility of a growing eurosceptic group to the right of EPP providing an increasing pole of attraction for voters protesting against European integration or voting against mainstream politics in general. However, as the electorate votes on national patterns, this would be more the accumulation of self-contained national trends rather than the emergence of a pan-European phenomenon, particularly as it is very difficult for these parties to form stable groups in the EP. Nevertheless it shows the danger of continuing with the current consensus within the EU institutions, voters will resort to the extreme right to make a point and make themselves, or will not vote. Both are already happening.

The Extreme Right

The clearly extreme-right has progressed despite the decline of what has been its biggest component, the French National Front. Really extreme parties with EP representation also exist in Romania (Greater Romania Party) and the UK (British National Party), Bulgaria (National Union Attack), Belgium (Flemish Interest), Austria (Martin List and Freedom Party), Greece (Popular Orthodox Rally) and Slovakia (Slovak National Party). Again various shades exist within this group, but all parties appear to be considered too extreme to join the proposed British-Czech led eurosceptic group. Unlike in the last European Parliament, I don’t see the possibility of an official extreme right group. A group recognised by the EP, which means money, representation on committees, and better speaking rights, requires 35 MEPs from seven member stares (the barrier has been raised because of EU expansion). The extreme right can manage eight national delegations, but not 35 MEPs and have great difficulty in uniting anyway. I calculate these parties have 27 MEPs. If the UK and Czech centre right abandon their beyond outside the EPP group, the beyond there might be no recognised ‘moderate’ eurosceptic right group, or any beyond the EPP completely recognised group at all given the division between these parties with regard to how extreme they are and conflicting forms of national chauvinism. In principle various kinds of anti-immigrant anti EU parties could unify, in a group of more than 35, but the split down the middle of the 54 radical right MEPs between the overtly racist and Islamophobic 27 and the more moderate ‘no more space left but we should integrate existing immigrants’ anti-immigrant 27, should make that difficult.

Why are the British and Czech Parties Bolting from the EPP?

The Conservatives and the Civic Democratic Party behaviour in leaving the EPP is strange, the EPP had an affiliated ED (European Democrats) Group to accommodate the anti-federalist centre right, which included those two parties and two small parties no longer in the EP. The ED was a rump as member parties had split off to become fully integrated into the EPP, but it provided a way for the British and Czech parties to have ties with the major parties of the European centre right while distancing themselves from integrationism. The British Conservatives emphasise that they still have joint policy commissions with the UPM in France and CDU-CSU in Germany. In this case, they are absurdly complicating their external relations. The emphasis on joint commissions with two countries only suggests a real collapse of relations with other centre right parties; and a dubious assumption that relations with France and Germany should be most of the strategy of a future Conservative government in dealing with Europe. What have these policy commissions achieved? Who is on them? How often do they meet? What are these joint policies? Information has not been circulating.

No comments: