UK & Netherlands : which way will the pendulum swing?

CC/Flickr/Jennifer Jane Mills

UKIP activists – CC/Flickr/Jennifer Jane Mills

Today, the 2014 elections for the European Parliament started in the Netherlands and the UK. Many fear that the UKIP and the PPV will swipe victory in their respective countries. What do you think? Answer this poll as we wait for preliminary results to come in. 

Five Eurosceptic parties you may not know about

It’s no secret: this blog is about France and the European Union, so we talk a lot about the Front National & its charismatic leader. Yet there is no need to be jealous of France on that account: the Eurosceptics are represented all over Europe in different forms & fashions. Here are five political parties you may not know about.

Five Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle – Italy)

CC/Flickr/Giovanni Favia

CC/Flickr/Giovanni Favia

The Five Star Movement appeared before the 2009 Italian elections under the leadership of comedian Beppe Grillo, who’s known for organizing the Vaffanculo protest (which literally means Fuck off) in 2007.

Its political agenda is rather anti-establishment, anti-corruption and aimed towards environmentalism, but its most striking feature is its anti-Europeanism. According to Grillo, the  Euro is to blame for the country’s plunging national debt and its difficulties with handling the crisis.

The Five Star currently represents about a fifth of the Italian electorate, but Grillo has sworn to remain in the opposition until his party has achieved the absolute majority. The May EU elections are of course a big objective for the Five Star.

United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP)

The UKIP is a bit older and has been around since 1993. The interesting characteristic of this right-wing party is that despite the fact that it has no seat in the House of Commons, and only one in the House of Lords, 9 UKIP MEPs were elected to the European Parliament (EP) in 2009. Its leader, Nigel Farage, is well-known for its inflammatory statements against the European Union.

Despite having to face the criticism of the Guardian for their lack of implication in the EP (except when it comes to collecting their salaries & allowances), the UKIP candidates still retain 24% of voting intentions in recent polls for the EU 2014 elections.

For the anecdote, UKIP has also been the prime target of the British comedy act John & the Baptists, who just started a “Stop Ukip tour.”

Law & Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość – Poland)

This Polish party had first supported the entry of its country into the European Union in 2004, but all of that changed when its leaders heard their Prime Minister call for a federal Europe in a 2011 speech in Berlin.

Jarosław Kaczynski, Chairman of the Law & Justice Party.  CC/Flickr/Piotr Drabik.

Jarosław Kaczynski, Chairman of the Law & Justice Party.
CC/Flickr/Piotr Drabik.

Law & Justice chairman Jarosław Kaczynski himself advocated the membership of Poland in the EU as an ‘independent country’ during his mandate as Poland’s Prime Minister (2005-2007), but has had to compromise with the more radical factions of his conservative party. A prime example of this phenomenon within Law & Justice: Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, who owns a popular right-wing radio station in Poland and considers the EU to be the source of all sins, such as abortion and homosexuality.

Overall, the party is not that opposed to the European Union, but is rather looking to preserve Poland’s national sovereignty. The L&J candidates currently hold the lead in voting intentions for the upcoming EU elections.

Finns party (formerly known as True Finns – Finland)

The Finns party became the third biggest party of the country in the 2011 elections with 19.1% of the votes. Their understanding of the current situation is that the EU will eventually collapse, and that Finland should prepare itself for that event. As a result of this rather mild Eurosceptic position, the country remains very committed to the European Union & the Euro and has actually gained in influence within the Union because of its strong economy.

Left Front (Front de Gauche – France)

Let’s make a full circle and come back to France. First, because it is the focus of this blog, and second, because it would be a mistake to believe that all Eurosceptics lean right.

The Left Front appeared previous to the 2009 European Elections as a result of the union of two small left-wing parties and won over 6% of the votes during that election. It is now composed of additional parties, such as the Parti Communiste and the Gauche Anticapitaliste). Its leader, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, is almost as famous as Marine Le Pen for its outbursts again Europe.
Translation: The EU Commission is assaulting France. It should be put under reinforced popular sanction.

This party tends to advocate the primacy of national law over EU law, as well as a more social Europe. However, the left-wing coalition has struggled in recent years, not only because of the different ideologies of its members on issues such as the Euro, but also because of the similarities between their anti-EU position and the National Front’s ideas.

This may explain why the Left Front is only in fifth place in the EU 2014 run with 9% of the voting intentions.

Average of polls for February 2014.  Source: Quartz

Average of polls for February 2014.
Source: Quartz