European Parliament elections were conducted last June, electing European Union (EU) lawmakers for a five year term. Manuel Valls, France’s prime minister, called this a huge political earthquake due to the large number of unwelcomed guests invading without warning. The name of these unwelcomed guests is the “Eurosceptics” and their aim is the dissolution of the EU.
Eurosceptic parties of each country
1) The United Kingdom (UK)
As you know, the UK was a latecomer in the EU and was negative towards EU policies from its outset like not adopting the euro and using their own currency (pound). There are many reasons why the UK could not benefit from joining the EU. For example, the EU adopted a Common Agricultural Policy, while the UK put emphasis on commerce and industry. Also, the financial relationship is one way; England should continuously provide money to support other poorer countries within the organization without receiving anything in return. Furthermore, as a result of the election, the probability of a growing influence of British Euroskeptics known as Brixit has increased much more. Their air is UK’s withdrawal from EU, so it can lighten its financial and regulatory burden.
The UK Independence Party (UKIP), far-right party, gained a majority by securing 24 of 73 seats allowed in the UK with 24% of the votes. They agree with the Brixit ideology and tighter immigration measures.
Front national (The National Front , FN) secured 24 seats of 74 seats in recent elections. FN is a national extreme right party asserting restriction on immigration of foreigners and sovereignty reinforcement. This was voiced by Marine Le Pen, the FN leader, who stated that France should no longer be “led by those outside our borders (EU).”
The election results came from public disappointment of PartiSocialiste (Socialist Party, PS) and Union pour le Movement Populaire (Union for a Popular Movement, UMP). President Hollande (PS) and Sarkozy (UMP) could not satisfy voters. Disappointment with both parties resulted in the FN gaining power.
Dansk Folkeparti (Danish People’s Party, DPP) won in election with 36.7% of the votes. The previous ruling party, Socialdemokraterne (Danish Social Democrats), only took 19.1% of the votes.
Interview with Lee Woo-chul
Researcher at the YU-EU Centre
Q) Why did extreme right parties bound forward in the recent European elections?
A) Many eastern European nations lived in relative poverty in the 80s but then joined to EU where western European nations played key role at first. As the east had high unemployment rates, the west thought that jobs were stolen from their own countries which displeased many people. They felt that the integration across Europe by embracing the eastern nations brought their standardize living down. The economy is in a bad shape and I think such tendencies are prominently featured.
Q) What are the major ideological parties that form European governments?
A) Major parties leading EU are comprised of the left and right wings and it is the called “two party system” of Europe. Eurosceptic parties having power from the latest election took about 107 seats of total 751 seats. The existing left and right wing parties are still strong, but when extreme right parties become one, they have the probability of building a third force.
Q) Are extreme right parties becoming powerful?
A) Extreme right parties can build a third force, but that is only possible when they all join together. They are just a minority. The right and left wing parties still have most of the power which is leading the EU. Also, as each Eurosceptic party have different aims, public opinion believes that it will be hard to they form a coalition and speak with one voice.
Q) Will the EU be disjointed?
A) Just because they are skeptical and negative about EU, it is not true that everyone believes that the EU must be disjoined. Also, as the economic situation worsens; they want to focus on their own benefit instead of the benefit of the whole EU. As extreme right parties have more power than previous election, the media focuses on them while the existing the right and left wing parties have smaller or similar seats. But their actual power is still small. Thus, the decision to disuse the Euro or to dissolve the EU is rash. But they can widen their influence and get involved more deeply in communication or policy making.