Sunday, 25 May 2014

European Elections 2014: Super Sunday Vote Part I

Most of the Member States are holding their polls today - about 21 of them. So there's a lot to get through!


Austria is currently governed by a grand coalition, with the Social Democratic SPOe (PES) the senior party and the Christian Democratic OeVP (EPP) the junior party. The far-right Freedom Party, FPOe (NI), has been gaining support in state elections as a party of opposition, while the former party of Jorg Haider, the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZOe) (NI), has tried to take a more liberal turn. Still Euroskeptic, the BZOe now pushes for flat taxes and campaigns against fiscal union in the EU.

The government in Austria has traditionally been a grand coalition (it was believed this would be a better way to govern after the highly divisive politics of the Inter-War period), and this has let the extreme parties grow as main parties of opposition. The Greens have also built up some support as an opposition party on the left.

In terms of MEPs, there have been some interesting moves and defections. Most notably, Angelika Werthmann has joined BZOe and been expelled from ALDE in the European Parliament. Ewald Stadler has set up REKOS, the Reform Conservatives, a Euroskeptic party that will sit with the EFD group in Parliament, and Martin Ehrenhauser has set up Europa Anders (Different Europe), a left-wing group that includes Communists and the Pirate Party. Team Stronach, a party set up by an Austro-Canadian businessman, won't be contesting the European elections.

A new liberal party aligned with ALDE, NEOS, will contest the elections and has been doing well with about 10% in the polls.

Overall it looks like the two main parties will hold their leading position, but the Freedom Party will make a strong showing of about 20%.

Current polls:

SPOe (PES): 25%
OeVP (EPP): 26%
BZOe (NI): 1-2%
FPOe (NI): 20%
Greens: 13%
NEOS (ALDE): 10%
Europa Anders (NI): 2%


Germany had its federal election back in September 2013 which led to a big victory for Angela Merkel's CDU-CSU (EPP) and to a grand coalition government with the Social Democrats (PES). Germany has been one of the more engaged Member States in the European elections, with two head-to-head debates between Juncker and Schulz on national TV (most recently on ARD, the public broadcaster). It will be interesting to see how the new AfD, which is an economically right-wing and anti-Euro party, will do. The liberal FDP was thrown out of the Bundestag in the federal election and now looks to be surpassed by the AfD in the polls.

An important factor this time around is the threshold to win seats in the EP. The Constitutional Court has done away with the 5% vote threshold and also the subsequent 3% threshold, so now it's much easier to win a seat. Germany is a single constituency for the European elections.

This will make the elections interesting - the FDP are hovering around 3%, while the AfD are around 7%. More worryingly is the idea that one of the far-right parties such as the NPD or Die Republikaner might do well. The question of immigration and control has crept into German politics, particularly the CSU, the Bavarian sister-party to Merkel's CDU (which is increasingly taking a stance against the Transfer Union within Germany), and this has been taken up by the AfD too.

Current polls:

CDU/CSU (EPP): 38%
SDP (PES): 27%
FDP (ALDE): 3%
Greens: 10%
Die Linke (UEL): 8%
AfD: 7%


Belgium is divided into linguistic constituencies: French, Dutch and German-speaking, and the federal and linguistic community based nature of the Belgian constitution and political system follows this. There are social democratic, Christian democratic, liberal, Green, etc. parties that are French or Dutch-speaking, leading to a complex party-political system where it famously takes ages to form a government. (The current government, led by Social Democrat Di Rupo, holds the record for the longest formation time).

From the polls it looks like the Flemish separatists could top the poll and an far-right Flemish party, Vlaams Belang, might do well with around 8%.

Current polls (from April):

Flemish Christian Democrats (EPP): 10% (winners of the 2009 election, would be down from 14%)
Parti socialiste (PES): 10%
SP.A (PES): 9%
Vlaams Belang (NI): 8%
Ecolo (Green): 4%
Groen (Green): 5%
Open Vld (ALDE): 12%
Mouvement Reformateur (ALDE): 8%
New Flemish Alliance (European Free Alliance - sits with the Green Group in the EP): 20%
Worker's Party of Belgium: 3%
Christian Social Party (German-speaking): 0.2%


The country hardest-hit from austerity and the home country of Presidential candidate Alexis Tsipras (UEL), it looks like the far-left will top the polls here. A big concern will be whether the neo-fascist Golden Dawn (XA) capture a sizable share of the vote. A new party called The River, a pro-European centre to centre-left party, was launched in March and is on about 8%.

Current polls:

Olive Tree Greece (PES): 7%
New Democracy (EPP) (senior governing party): 25%
Communist PArty (UEL): 6%
SYRIZA (UEL - Tsipras' party): 29%
Golden Dawn: 9%
Independent Greeks (conservatives/Euroskeptics): 3-4%
Democratic Left (S&D group in the EP): 2-3%
The River: 8%


The conservative Fidesz party (EPP) dominates Hungarian politics and has been controversially redrawing the country's constitution, bringing it into conflict with the EU, which has had concerns over the freedom of press and the independence of the judiciary. The opposition Socialists (PES) are predicted to come third behind the far-right Jobbik Party. The Greens may also win a seat.


Italy's politics have been shaken up by Grillo's Five Star Movement and the constant scandals from former Prime Minister Berlusconi. The senior governing party, the Democratic Party (PES), have recently ousted their previous Prime Minister, Letta, and replaced him with their party leader, the former Florence mayor Matteo Renzi. It looks like the Democratic Party and the Five Star Movement are going to do well, with Berlusconi's Forza Italia (EPP) coming third.

There is a 4% threshold to enter Parliament, with guaranteed representation for the German-speaking minority of South Tyrol.

Current polls:

Forza Italia (EPP): 18%
Democratic Party (PES): 34%
Northern League (EFD): 5%
Five Star Movement (NI): 24%
Alternative Europe - with Tsipras (UEL): 4%
Brothers of Italy (EPP): 3.6%
New Centre Right (EPP): 5.5%


I wasn't really able to find out much information on the Romanian poll, but here are the current polls from PollWatch 2014:

Social Democratic Union (PES): 40%
National Liberal Party (ALDE): 15%
Liberal Democratic Party (EPP): 13%
People's Movement Party (EPP): 9.3%
Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (EPP): 5.6%
Forta Civica (EPP): 5%
People's Party - Dan Diaconescu (NI): 4%

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