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[News] 2019 EP Elections – News from the UNITED network

The 2019 European Parliamentary Elections results brought an unprecedented political composition of the European Parliament. While the turnout (almost 51%) has been the highest since 1994, an important growth of the Greens, and great gains for nationalists and far-right parties shows a trend of increasing political polarisation.

Despite the growth of nationalist and far-right parties, these still do not have the capacity to govern, even by allying with the conservative parties. The political divisions among the European far-right, and more crucially the commitment of the European people to uphold values of diversity, tolerance and solidarity, have prevented the construction of a European extreme right front.

In Austria, Estonia, and elsewhere in Europe, UNITED activists reacted to the results:

G.L., Austria: “Since 18th May 2019, a lot of things have changed. The Ibiza Affair blew up the ÖVP-FPÖ government. The FPÖ had a loss of 2.5% compared to the last election in 2014. That is far more than some analysts expected after the release of the video on 18th May, one week prior to the vote. The strategy of the FPÖ after the scandal was very efficient in creating an alternative story. Accusations against the creators of the video were made and conspiracy theories were brought up by Heinz-Christian Strache [Vice-Chancellor of Austria and chairman of the FPÖ] himself, and the weak opposition was not able to efficiently contradict these allegations.”

A.T., Estonia: “The EP elections showed that Estonian people are very much dedicated to keeping Europe united and strong. 5 out of 6 seats were given to pro-European parties respecting the principles of a democratic society. Far-right EKRE was able to secure a single seat. As EKRE is currently also in the Estonian government, it is noteworthy that the coalition parties were only able to get 2 seats out of 6, and 4 seats were given to the opposition parties. This gives a clear signal that Estonian people do not want to see EKRE in the government.”

S.R., Italy: “Far-right parties such as Lega Nord, Brothers of Italy and New Force got 39 seats out of 72. The results of the European Elections are also likely to affect the situation at the national level, as [Minister of the Interior and Federal Secretary of Lega Nord] Matteo Salvini will probably use these positive results to push forward his anti-immigration policies.”

A.K., Latvia: “Regrettably, in Latvia the radical right party National Alliance obtained 2 seats out of 8, instead of 1 in the previous elections.”

S.B., Netherlands: “It is a positive development to see that there has once again been a move towards the left with the Labour Party (PvdA) becoming the biggest party during the European Elections. At the same time, I think that we should be careful to celebrate this as a huge success — the last elections in the Netherlands were two months prior to the EP elections, and the far-right and nationalist Forum for Democracy (FvD) became the biggest party. I think that for the European Elections, Frans Timmermans had a lot of appeal to voters that may have voted for other parties in the previous election. For upcoming elections in the Netherlands, a shift back towards the right may happen again. In any case, the Dutch political field is very scattered, and it will be harder and harder to form coalitions as there are so many smaller parties.”

M.N., Slovakia: “Only 20% of people went to vote, and we finished last in the European Union in terms of turnout. There is a problem in Slovakia because we cannot vote from abroad. This must change in the future. The new liberal coalition won (Progressive Slovensko + Spolu). Out of 14 Slovak seats, the far-right party Kotleba (ĽSNS) is rising, and got 2 seats (out of 14 Slovak seats), while the populist/socialist Smer-SD got 3 seats.”

UNITED would like to thank all those who contributed to build our Index of Discriminatory Political Parties, a good example of how to strengthen the local and pan-European network to monitor far-right local groups and national movements.

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