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Monday, May 26, 2014

Anti-system MEPs surge in the European Parliament: how will EU leaders respond?

Open Europe has today responded to the preliminary 2014 European Parliament elections results. Please note that these figures are based on a combination of final results and some projections so could still be subject to change. However, we do not consider any substantial swings likely.

Here are the key points:
  • Share of anti-EU and anti-establishment vote is slightly higher than expected with such parties collectively on course to win 229 out of 751 seats in the new European Parliament (30.5%), up from 164 out of 766 seats in the current parliament (21.4%).
  • European Parliament politics are set to become more unpredictable though the anti-EU and anti-establishment block remains incoherent and the two main groups will continue to dominate.
  • The share of MEPs dedicated to free market policies drops, from 32% to 28.1%.
  • Compared to 2009, overall turnout stayed flat despite more powers for MEPs in the Lisbon Treaty and the EU becoming a high-profile issue in the wake of the Eurozone crisis.
  • Several anti-incumbent parties in the EP for the first time, ranging from Feminist Initiative in Sweden to Spain’s new leftist movement Podemos, founded as late as March 2014.

 The rise of anti-EU and protest parties on the left and right will make European politics more unpredictable but, paradoxically, it could also strengthen the resolve of the three mainstream groups to continue to vote for more Europe in the European Parliament, in order to freeze out the anti-EU contingent (click on the pictures to enlarge).

The temptation in Brussels and national capitals will be to view this as the peak of anti-EU sentiment as the eurozone crisis calms down and the economy improves. This would be a huge gamble. The make-up and reasons for the rise of these parties are complex, but it’s clear that the best way to cut off their oxygen is to show that the EU can reform itself and respond to voters. These elections are a clear warning: offer voters a polarised choice between more Europe and no Europe and sooner or later they will choose the latter.

David Cameron now faces a seriously tricky week. He has two main challenges. First, he will try to muster enough allies to block Jean-Claude Juncker, the front-runner for European Commission President, although it’s not looking overly promising. Second, he faces the dilemma of aligning himself with more nationalist parties to secure his party’s standing in the EP, which comes with the risk of alienating his natural allies on the centre-right who will be crucial in his bid to achieve EU reform.

EU leaders will meet tomorrow evening to discuss what to do next and how to negotiate with the new parliament. It might not be pretty.


Anonymous said...

Some of this may have been interesting if the EU parliament actually mattered.

As is, the only way this can matter is if there are some spectacular incidents and disasters in the dysfunctional body which may help countries exit eurozone or even better, leave the EU faster.

Rik said...

1. Looks to me that if you want to blow up the thing there will be nothing better than the status quo (burocrats grabbing power) for another 5Y.
If you want to maintain the thing urgent reform is your thing.
Simply how sensible people will manage risk. Simply way too risky to let the thing get Schultzed directly into the garbage bin.
Move to the middle by all means there is simply nothing to chose from. And this election shows how the electorate reacts to that (simply not shows up and at national level moves to all sorts of funny parties. In 5Y time EP could be the only parliament with a real fruitcake majority.
Anti-EU folks should show a little more stamina in that respect. Just let the EU continue as the last couple of years (and of course not deliver). It looks btw that their traditional voterbase has that stamina. If you look how long people have been voting LePen and Wilders without a real chance of having some power.

2. From there it is hard to see how Cameron could be in real trouble as well.
His part of the cake, the "Critical reformers' might be by far the smallest group yet, but any traditional party with leadership in the possession of more than 2 braincells basically will have to move now. It simply has a huge potential unlike the Brusselphiles.
We have seen how successful Mr Clegg's party was by going for a full force EU defence.
May be with the exception of some Eastblocks but at the end of the day these are hardly relevant (the money talks and manure takes a stroll thing).
There must be a huge potential of parties that realise that reform is essential for the EU itself but also for them at national level. Cameron shouild simply look better. And simply go for reform and not for political colour. At the end of the day hardly anybody in the UK (or anywhere else) cares about the EP drivel. The thing they are interested in is reform. It is as simple as that.
Cameron has a strong selling point unlike a lot of people in the UK all over Europe people seem to accept that he is also walking the walk. A lot of traditional parties will have a huge problem there. People are simply fed up by them talking the talk and not in anyway bring that further into action. It is one of the main killers of the FDP and probably the main reason CSU took a hit. People are fed up with empty talk and Cameron can deliver a real drive for reform.

3. More important is that Cameron should under all circumstances avoid that the right in the UK splits itself (as it looks now).
Many might think that it is an EP thing. However one never knows. Farage has the real potential to make it happen. And to be honest the rest of the UK politicians have the potential to F it up and present farage the thing on a silver platter.
When it happens Tories are in existential problems.
Simply not a gamble worth taking. Way too risky. Cameron will have to manage this risk which imho leaves no other choice but to come to some agreement with the IPs. Potential costs times probability is several times higher than the benefit of going for it alone (or costs of arranging with IP as that is basically the same thing).

Might be wise to wait until Farage has finished his attempt to butcher Labour. He seems to be doing a pretty good job at that.
Both voterwise but also to put the pressure on them. Labour simply doesnot seem well equipped to handle that they are moving all over the place. Not only with policies now like before but also re leadership. Simply he makes them and their leaders look like a complete mess.

Jesper said...

Maybe the centralisers (EU-leaders) could respond by clarifying exactly how powerful and influential the EP is?

7% of laws, 50% of laws or 70% of laws are influenced by the EP?

My guess is that the election will be seen as an unimportant inconvenience and things will be back to normal for the EU leadership in a very short time. Divide and conquer, separate, isolate and marginalise the malcontents. Would even a majority of malcontents have changed anything?

Anonymous said...

Let us all hope that the EU responds to failure differently this time. The usual response is to just continue in the same direction, breaking sovereign governments and democracy in the process.

If the EU and its politicians had any self-respect they would seek immediate validation from the underlying electorate and/or resign.

This EP election results are a damning indictment of what has happened, what is happening and of their ability to do their jobs.

No more, thanks.

Free trade. No handing over of sovereignty to incompetents.


Average Englishman said...


I agree with much of your post but expect what will happen is:

* EUSSR commissars will essentially ignore the recent anti-EU sentiments expressed by the voters and will continue as before. These people are fanatics and I expect they will just right off recent events as a short term protest phenomena or just one of those tiresome things they have to live with, (it's only the peasants making noises after all and what do they really know; they're not all seeing and knowing like us).

* Cameron, Sarkozy and others will spin like crazy, making noises about reform but will not achieve anything substantial. They will not want to really anyway because they are professed Europhiles at heart. They will try to deceive their way out of trouble with their voters in the hope and expectation that this is a short term glitch in their fortunes that fill fade away with time and better economic circumstances. Given the perceived demographic of most of the UKIP type supporters they will also just hope they can 'kick the can down the road' in true EU fashion until the protest dies out; literally.

This is very worrying for the peace of Europe. I do not see Nigel Farage picking up a Kalashnikov in a hurry (or me for that matter) but I suspect that others in Greece, Spain, etc., may well be less patient with being ignored whilst they are on the dole with not much of a future to look forward to apart from waiting at tables.

However, from a personal perspective it will be just what is needed to increase UKIP's support and bring forward the glorious day when the UK leaves the EU altogether. UKIP and other such parties will not fade away and their support will continue to increase over time (with some ups and downs). This is a long term fight and the more that the youth of the EU understand what is really happening the more they will join their fathers and grandfathers in protest.

It's a terrible shame and all so unnecessary. All that was required was the Common Market and time to take its course to bring the nations of Europe together.

Rik said...

The most urgent issue is probably the Ukraine (and keep warm next winter) at the moment.

Mr Marsbar looks a bit of astrategic idiot. Nothing unusual for there btw. Good intentions probably but the road to hell is paved with those.

The harder he pushes the harder Putin will push back. Even by sending larger scale paramilitary from say Chechenia.
Putin is clearly going for destabilisation a blind dog can see that, a Marsbar apparently not.
Hard to see Kiev stabilising it when there remains the will even if it had a functioning army.
Anyway the more garbage (like dead people) there will be the more difficult it will get to put the thing back in the box.
They got > 1000 000 small arms for instance.
Add a few anti-aircraft thingies and half the Ukraine's airforce will be gone before you can say Milkyway.

Problem is that starting for their own up East means all debt goes to the remaining part. And the debt is already unsustainable. When the East start to realise they can get rid of their portion of the debt by becoming an independent country it is likely game over.
They probably have read Salmonds: how to p!$$ of a neigbiourinbg country in 20 easy lessons (for Dummies (otherwise Salmond would not understand it himself). Or wil be reading the Russian translation of that international bestseller.

So Marsbar and next winter's West need a fast solution and conditions that make a one country solution somewhere realistic.
So talk, likely Putin can kick the seperatist to the negotiating table and is very likely to want to do a deal himself anyway (only Western idiots want to buy a bust country).

But if:
-Putin gets internal pressure to act (when eg fighting runs out of control);
-East realises it can easily get away from its debt;
-relations between the 2 groups are coloured with much blood,
it very likely will be game over as far as friendly solutions go.

- a country splitting up;
- Ukraine going bust;
- gas supply troublesome.

Rik said...


1. Spinning doesnot help anymore. All long term spinning is now ending up as a disaster for the spinner.
Simply works counterproductive.

Imho the thing will come really under fire by a national election. Just need a major country to move and go for EU or Euro exit and it is game on and all bets are off.

The beast is not likely to move by itself. It simply needs a proper kick in the testis and after that be kept under pressure.
You can see now how Corporal Jones like they react and who. One could have seen it coming several years back but apparently they need an election result to wake up. Good to see how people react. As said most will sort of panic or something close to that. But are not able to change things, simply not in them, they have to be pushed.

Jesper said...

When Hr Schulz was in Sweden before the election he made the observation/comment that a vote for a Swedish Social Democrat would be a vote for him as commission president. Was a vote for the UK Labour party also a vote for him as commission president?

It was honest and open - to be commended. What it also did was to make it clear that he would be seen as representing Swedish voters interests and concern.

The big question then becomes: How much will he know about Swedish voters interests and concerns?
The follow up question might be: How will he find out about Swedish voters interests and concerns?

Most likely he'd be in contact with the Swedish electorate through Swedish politicians. In other words, he'd be one step further away from the electorate and by default he'd know less than Swedish politicians about the interests and concerns of the Swedish electorate.

The many steps (distance) between the electorate and the self-proclaimed elite is a problem.

Anonymous said...

The new groups are not "anti-system."

They are anti-EUSSR and anti-Open Europe-type Eurofascism.


As a voter at the time of Heath and Wilson I am clearly part of that “UKIP demographic” that one of your commentators identified. I am part of the pre-WWII generation. That time saw a considerable destruction of deference and class-distinction. I have always believed the European project is the ‘ruling caste’ (and also the extreme leftists) engaged in the destruction of the people’s gains in democracy: a vehicle to reassert their autocratic authority. It has never been (except in the minds of the ordinary people) about a common market. Ever since Heath I have been part of the campaign to recover those freedoms and liberties that have been in decline.

It is therefore most disconcerting when I read your well informed regular commentator’s opinions of the expected EC official reaction after Election 2014:
• “an unimportant inconvenience”
• “things will be back to normal in a very short time”
• “marginalise the malcontents”
• “nothing is changed”
• “they will write off recent events as a short term protest phenomenon”
• “the peasants making a noise”
• “no change”
• “deceive their way out of trouble”
Just one optimistic note:
• UKIP support will increase and the young will join the fight.

To summarise – the same old same old will continue unabated!

On that basis you must believe we should pack-up our tents and slink away. But that is anathema to Englishmen and women whose parents fought in two world wars to preserve and hopefully enhance English Constitutional freedom and liberty. The Farages, the Le Pens, the Wilders believe passionately they can make a difference. Throughout history, come the moment, people have always made a difference.

UKIP is objecting to the unilateral way that LIB/LAB/CON (as part of their EU vision) is changing the character of England. We are told that the rate of immigration almost equals the rate of emigration (so that’s alright then?). What the ruling caste fail to mention, is emigration every year is composed of more than a quarter of a million of the economically-active indigenous English, disenchanted by the cultural changes in their homeland. At this rate it is forecast that by 2050 the indigenous English will be a minority in these islands. Is this what you want to happen without a fight?

The English do not object to people of other lands (that wellspring of rejuvenation) coming to live and work in England. The objection is that a large section of these immigrants insist on retaining their native culture and have no intention of integrating into the English way-of-life, and accepting its’ rule of law: they wish to colonise England to their beliefs.

Until the arrival of UKIP there has been no voice to express this national dissatisfaction. The racist-charge restraint on official discussion, in media and parliament, of these matters has been most potent. We do not know, at this time, if UKIP will become a party of the House of Commons. But without any MPs they are certainly dictating the debate in that place. LIB/LAB/CON for the first time have failed to win an election. If they persist in ignoring the message of 2014, none of them will win a majority in 2015: That is the promise.