The Euro Elections have finally happened and we know the news – UKIP has won in the UK.
UKIP is part of the rightist grouping in the European Parliament called Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group. Of course, as we know, UKIP MEPs don’t bother to do the work that MEPs are supposed to be doing at the European Parliament, and mostly just check in to get their salaries and expenses.
EFD mostly comprises UKIP and the Italian Northern League plus some others such as the Danish People’s Party and the Finns Party. All of these groups fall into the camp of Populist Right Wing Parties, though some of their policies stray into the territory of the Far Right, and obviously the distinction between them is fairly woolly. The Northern League has a particularly odd set of policies and positions, and is more of a coalition itself, though it does not include far-rightist Alessandro Mussolini, the Fascist Dictator’s grand-daughter, who is an MEP for Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.
I had seen suggestions in the media last night, of a dramatic turn to the far right during these elections. I vainly tried to track down the detail on UK news sites – the BBC website was useless, the Guardian and Telegraph better but not much detail.
Ironically, in the end I found the best place with all the information – where? The EU website.
Here are the results for the far-right and populist right parties: percentages in brackets are their share of the vote.
- Austria – far right Freedom Party – 4 MEPs ( 19.5%). Too far to the right even to join the EFD (so far).
- Belgium – far-right Vlamms Belang – 1 MEP; also to the right of the EFD.
- Bulgaria – difficult to say but the two coalition groups who won 3 MEPs between them don’t appear to be far-right, and Attaka, who appear to be neofascists, did very badly.
- Croatia – none.
- Cyprus – none.
- Czech Republic – Libertarian Eurosceptic party Svobodni get 1 MEP. They are not part of the EFD.
- Denmark – Danish People’s party (right or far-right wing populists) win the election with 27% of the vote. Their 4 MEPs will sit with UKIP in the EFD.
- Estonia – none.
- Finland – The Finns Party win 13% of the vote and 2 MEPs. Another nationalist right-wing populist party, though with some leftist policies including support for the welfare state. They are part of the EFD.
- France – the National Front win the election with 25% of the vote and 24 MEPs. These are too far to the right to be part of the EFD and promote anti-semitic views.
- Germany – one MEP for the neo-nazi NPD with 1% of the vote. They are not part of the EFD.
- Greece – Neo-fascists Golden Dawn win 9% of the vote and 3 MEPs. They are to the right of the EFD.
- Hungary – Neo-fascists Jobbik win 15% of the vote and 3 MEPs. they are further to the right than the EFD.
- Ireland – none
- Italy – the Northern League win 5 MEPs with 6% of the vote. The NL are the second largest member of the EFD, after UKIP. It’s difficult to pin down the political position of the NL – they are a diverse mix but certainly some ethnic stances place them on the right, perhaps far right.
- Latvia – none
- Lithuania – Right wing populist party Order and Justice (TT) win 14% of the vote and 2 MEPs who are part of the EFD.
- Luxembourg – none
- Malta – none
- Netherlands – The Far-right Peoples Party win 4 MEPs with 13% of the vote. They are further to the right than the EFD and are not part of it. The also far-right SGP are part of EFD and one 1 MEP.
- Poland – the KNP a libertarian right party, won 4 MEPs with 7% of the vote. They are not part of the EFD.
- Romania – none
- Slovakia – none
- Slovenia – none
- Spain – none that I could see
- Sweden – far-right populists Swedish Democrat party won 10% of the vote and 2 MEPs. They are not part of the EFD group.
- UK – UKIP win the election with 27% of the vote and get 24 MEPs.
The upshot of all this is that the EFD grouping is likely to have 38 MEPs and the other far-right groups will have 47 MEPs altogether. Out of 751 MEPs this doesn’t sound like many does it? Actually it’s over 11%.
How worried should we be?
Here in the UK the overtly racist BNP have lost all their MEPs, which must be very good news. But then BNP voters will have shifted to UKIP, seeing a greater chance of their views being adopted by politicians, and acted upon. UKIP will only disrupt the European Parliament. But indirectly they will drag the Tories to the right. Labour will also see themselves losing the blue collar “Left Behind” vote to UKIP and they may also move to the right.
For the environment and climate change in particular, it is bad news. UKIP are avowedly climate change deniers and take a libertarian anti-environmental stance, when it comes to the use of regulation and taxation to protect the environment. Their success will only strengthen the resolve of climate sceptics in the Tory Party to push further ahead unravelling climate change policies. We could see a proposal to revoke the Climate Act in the next Tory Manifesto. The Tories will certainly want to block any pro-environmental legislation coming from the EU now, partly to show voters who might desert them for UKIP in the general election, how seriously they take the UKIP threat.
Further afield in Europe, this could be the beginning of the end for the EU as it has come to be. In the short term, the European Commission and the Council of Ministers will continue to be the two main places of power within the EU, with the Parliament still coming a distant third. To what extent the anti-European right can organise itself into a force to dismantle the EU from the inside, remains to be seen. UKIP may have more success persuading enough of the electorate within the UK to leave the EU, to make it happen. And that rather depends on what happens at the next big political event, the Scottish Referendum on the 18th September – less than 4 months away. If Scotland votes yes to leave the UK, that earthquake will make yesterday’s events seem paltry by comparison.
Here is some biographical detail for some of the characters the far-right have in the European Parliament now. Plus a 92 year old Greek war hero (who is a Syriza MEP).