Publication History - Party / Movement History - German / European History - Political Parties / Election Analyses - Europe - Europe / EU After the Defeat: New Challenges for the Radical Left

The Left in the EU needs new strategies

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From now on the radical Left will be the smallest group in the European Parliament. Compared to 2014, we have lost about 30 percent of our mandates. At 5.46 percent the Left reaches a voter approval similar to the one at the end of the 1980s, with the only difference being the current conditions of a distinct swing to the right. In Spain, France, and Germany in particular the left parties remained far behind their expectations.

Within the group of the radical Left the Spanish Unidos Podemos and the Greek Syriza are the strongest parties with six representatives each. The German DIE LINKE sends five mandates to the European Parliament (EP). In addition to that, there will be one representative of the Animal Rights Party. With two seats each the Portuguese Bloco, the Portuguese Left-Green Alliance (including the Communists), Sinn Féin and AKEL from Cyprus are represented. One seat is held by the Swedish Vänsterpartiet, the Danish Unity List-RGA, the Finnish Left Party and the Belgian Workers’ Party (PTB-PVDA) respectively. The same is true for the Czech KSČM, who, however, has also lost influence. No longer represented in the European Parliament is the Italian Left, who made it to the EP with the List Another Europe with Tsipras in 2014. The Slovenian Levica did not succeed, in spite of gaining 6.3 percent of voter approval. It remains uncertain whether Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise will join the faction with their six representatives.

Conservatives and Social Democrats have lost 20 percent [1]

With the Greens and the Liberals two explicitly pro-EU party families are the winners. The Greens now have 75, the Liberals—thanks to Macron’s decision to join this faction—hold 108 seats. The right-wing parties of the European Conservatives and Reformers (ECR), the even further right-wing faction of Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) and the newly-founded faction of Identity and Democracy (ID) gain 178 seats altogether, but the final formation of the right-wing factions will only be clear after Brexit is in effect. If we add more parties, such as FIDESZ, they rely on 25 percent of voters.

This means that, beside the Conservatives and Social Democrats/Socialists, the European Parliament will consist of a pro-EU bloc of Greens and Liberals together amounting to about 25 percent, and a strong nationalist-oriented, anti-EU right-wing bloc. Still, these election results show that the parties of the Right did not become as strong as they had hoped. Still, there is a clear right-wing slant in the European Parliament that is more than the mere increase in votes of 22 percent in 2014 to 25 percent in 2019, especially if we take into account the impact of the right-wing parties in the national governments and via the European Council. The political Right is in government or forms part of government in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, and Poland. In Italy and France, Salvini’s League and Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (RN) became the strongest parties in the European elections. And by shifting the agenda they have already been influencing national and European politics for quite some time now.

At the same time, the increase in votes for the Liberals and the Greens are increases of votes for clear pro-EU positions and a consolidation of EU policy. This is of some significance if we consider the Brexit paradox.  On the one hand, in the face of the chaos created by Brexit almost all parties—no matter what their political orientation—moved away from their anti-EU position, or more precisely from their exit positions during their election campaigns. On the other hand, the Brexit Party became the strongest party in Great Britain with more than 30 percent of votes.

EU-wide voter turnout amounted to 50.93 percent, which is significantly higher than in 2014 when the turnout was 43.09 percent, whereby the differences are traditionally very great between Slovakia with a voter turnout of 22.74 percent, Portugal with a voter turnout of 31,40 percent on the one hand, and Spain with 60 percent and those countries with compulsory voting with a voter turnout of 80 percent and more, on the other. There was a significant rise of voter turnout (more than 10 percent) in the Czech Republic (28.72 percent), Germany (61.41 percent), Hungary (43,36 percent), Romania (51.07 percent), and Spain (64.30 percen