France’s Old Parties Suffer Another Blow in European Election

The sun sets on the Bourbon Palace, seat of the French National Assembly, in Paris, June 8, 2007
The sun sets on the Bourbon Palace, seat of the French National Assembly, in Paris, June 8, 2007 (jrrosenberg)

France’s once-dominant center-left and center-right parties still haven’t recovered from their defeat two years ago at the hands of Emmanuel Macron.

The Socialists got only 6 percent support in European elections on Sunday, the same share as the far left. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s Republicans got 8.5 percent, down from 21 percent five years ago.

Most of the media attention has gone to the winners: Macron’s liberal-centrist alliance, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally and the Greens, who got almost 60 percent support combined. But the collapse of the old parties — and with it an era in French politics — is just as big a story. Read more

Dutch Voters Punish Euroskeptics, Give Labor Victory

Flag of the Netherlands
Flag of the Netherlands (Pixabay/Ben Kerckx)

Dutch voters punished Euroskeptic parties of the left and right on Thursday, according to unofficial election results and an exit poll.

The far-right Freedom Party, led by Geert Wilders, and the far-left Socialists would struggle to retain their seats in the European Parliament. The former currently has four, the latter two.

An exit poll conducted by Ipsos gives the two parties one seat each. But voting results from 732 of 9340 polling places suggest neither might qualify at all. The exit poll has a one-seat margin of error.

The official result is not announced until Sunday night, when all the EU’s 28 member states will have voted. But Dutch law requires individual polling places to read out their results on election night. Volunteers for the populist blog GeenStijl tallied the results, which were then analyzed by Ipsos’ competitor, Peil.nl. Read more

European Elections Are About More Than the Far Right

Flags of European Union member states in Brussels, November 16, 2015
Flags of European Union member states in Brussels, November 16, 2015 (European Parliament)

European elections kick off in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom on Thursday with most of the other 26 member states voting on Sunday.

The temptation is to force a single narrative on the elections. American and British media in particular are obsessed with the performance of the Euroskeptic right. But it is only part of the story.

The elections span a continent of 500 million people. Turnout in European elections is usually low, but those who do vote tend to do so on the basis of national, not European, issues. Hence the elections are less a referendum on the EU than a test for incumbent leaders and governments.

To pro-versus-anti-EU narrative also simplifies reality. Read more

Brexit Delay Could Benefit Left in European Elections

European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans answers questions from members of the European Parliament in Brussels, April 26, 2017
European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans answers questions from members of the European Parliament in Brussels, April 26, 2017 (European Parliament)

The delay of Brexit could benefit the European left in elections in May.

A poll conducted by Hanbury Strategy for Open Europe found that the British Labour Party could win nearly 38 percent support and close to thirty seats in Strasbourg.

That would make theirs the largest delegation in the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), surpassing the German Social Democrats, and close the gap with the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), which stands to gain nothing from Brexit. Theresa May’s Conservatives group with the mildly Euroskeptic European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) instead.

Britain will need to hold European elections if it is still in the EU next month. Read more

European Far Right Fails to Unite

Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy's Northern League, gives a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, March 15, 2017
Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s Northern League, gives a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, March 15, 2017 (European Parliament)

Only three other parties turned up in Milan on Monday, where Italy’s Matteo Salvini had announced the launch of a broad Euroskeptic campaign for the European elections in May.

The attendants were the nationalist parties of Denmark and Finland as well as the Alternative for Germany.

Their counterparts from Austria, France, Hungary, Poland and the Netherlands did not show up. Read more

The Euroskeptic Contradiction

A man walks in front of European country flags
A man walks in front of European country flags (European Parliament/Michael Moscholios)

Euroskeptics complain that the European Union is not democratic enough. But more democracy in the EU would mean taking power away from the member states, which is not what they want either.

It’s a contradiction at the heart of the Euroskeptic argument that allows them to damn the EU if it does and damn the EU if it doesn’t. Read more

What the European Election Polls Reveal

The European Parliament building in Strasbourg, France, March 8, 2016
The European Parliament building in Strasbourg, France, March 8, 2016 (European Parliament)

Expect to read this headline a lot between now and the European elections in May: “Euroskeptics to take fifth of European Parliament seats.”

It sounds scary, but it’s really not much of a change and what’s happening on the pro-European side is more interesting. Read more