far-right

European Parliament Election 2014: Post-mortem (Part 8)

And finally we reach the concluding part, which will cover Sweden and the United Kingdom, and which will also contain a listed overview of the results from each member state covered.

21. Sweden

The political scene in Sweden at the moment is dominated by the emergence of the Feminist Initiative (FI) party, officially they’ve been around since 2005 however they’ve only just gained serious momentum with a novel approach to breeding members and voter in the form of meetings in people’s houses. Get an assortment of your associates together and FI will send you a member to give you the blow by blow on feminism, or rather their version of feminism, a strategy that proved to be immensely effective with an increase in members from 1,500 to 15,000 in the space of only a few months. FI has heavy hitters sitting behind it with former Left Party (VP) leader Gudrun Schyman being their de-facto leader and Benny Andersson from ABBA being a supporter who gave them one million Kronor for the 2009 European election, though less this time around. Schyman herself is a rather controversial figure having been convicted for tax fraud whilst the leader of VP, subsequently leaving the party to focus on feminism, although I doubt many people actually believe that was the prime reason. For a view of how there emergence has effected Swedish politics we can look no further than this ’round-table’ discussion hosted by Radio Sweden at the Almedalen politics festival at the start of July on the as yet non-Russian island of Gotland, vicious to say the least.

In terms of ‘socialist’ parties in Sweden, the parties of interest for this election are as follows: The Left Party (VP), the old official pro-Moscow communist party in Sweden, they took an increasingly Eurocommunist direction in the 1970’s and 1980’s culmination with an official break from Marxism in 1990 when they took their current name, dropping the ‘communists’ appendage that had followed Left Party; under Gudrun Schyman’s leadership they adopted feminism as an ideology, prefiguring FI. The second party of interest is a party called ‘The Socialists’, known electorally as the Socialist Welfare Party and to be referred here-in under the abbreviation SVP. These are the only parties that officially contested the election from a socialist viewpoint, however Sweden records informal ‘write-in’ votes when it’s counting the results and as such we’ll also be noting the ‘write-in’ votes for the Communist Party (KP) and the Communist Party of Sweden (SKP); the former having been formed as a pro-Beijing split and the latter as a pro-Moscow split from VP in the 1960’s and 1980’s respectively. On the point of KP, they have a annual cultural award that in 2012 had a 10th anniversary gig, one of those participating was the Ragga artist Kapten Röd (Captain Red) whose song In Kommer Ting is to be found below; tangential but interesting, and perhaps an unsurprising insight into my esoteric listening habits.

 

Before actually getting to the results lets take a minute to consider the SCB Party Preference Survey for May 2014 and its changes on the survey conducted in November 2013 that was mentioned in my piece on Swedish polling back in March. The Social Democrats (PES affiliated) 35.3%, Moderates (EPP affiliated) 22.7%, Sweden Democrats (Farage affiliated) 8.1%, Green Party (EGP affiliated), 8.0%, Left Party (NGL affiliated) 8.0%, Liberal People’s Party (ALDE affiliated) 5.3%, Centre Party (ALDE affiliated) 4.9%, Christian Democrats (EPP affiliated) 3.9%, Others 3.9%. The governing coalition of Moderates, Liberals, Centrists and Christian Democrats amount to a collective total of 36.8%, you’d have to think that Prime Minister, and hypothetical Glamrocker, Frederik Reinfeldt is on his way out considering that the September general election is coming up very fast now. These results are positive for VP as they’ve increased their vote by 1.3% since November, the largest improvement registered outside of the 2.6% increase for the ‘others’, most of which could be an FI vote. The drive by VP and their latest leader Jonas Sjöstedt to get profit-making elements out of the Swedish welfare system could be a reason for this increase.

On the subject of the results, VP managed to get 6.3%, which was an increase of 0.65% on their result from 2009 of 5.66% and helped them retain their single seat in Brussels; at the start of the year they might have expected more, however the rise of FI probably stifled any chance of a larger increase. For the SVP, they achieved 86 votes, too small a number to reasonably represent as a percentage, however this is an increase on the 78 votes they got in 2009. For the ‘write-ins’, the KP got 5 votes and the SKP 3 votes. In addition to that there were 3 votes cast for Jesus, 2 for Batman and 2 for Donald Duck! In terms of FI’s entrance to the world of political stardom, they managed 5.49% and 1 seat, making the choice after winning that seat to sit with the S&D group formed around PES. As the star of FI was rising, one was falling as the Pirate Party ended up with only 2.23% of the vote, down 4.9% on the 7.13% they received in 2009 and resulting in them loosing both of the seats they held in Brussels. More troubling however is the performance of the xenophobic Sweden Democrats party, who increased their vote from 3.27% to 9.67%, gaining themselves 2 seats; they were to be associated with the Marine Le Pen/Geert Wilders group EAF, however they subsequently joined up with UKIP and M5S in the EFDD grouping.

22. United Kingdom

The United Kingdom, the birthplace of many Internationals of a socialist disposition along with being where the Karl Marx wrote his most important works, however not exactly a bastion of socialism in terms of large scale support, well not recently at any rate. Personally I can’t be bothered to make much of a comment on the state of general politics in the UK, and I’d actually wonder if I’d be providing much information that wasn’t already in the minds of those reading given the anglophone nature of that readership, so this last member state in our list will be dealt with in a slightly more perfunctory manner than might be expected for a member state with a population of 64 million or there about.

The parties and coalitions of interest include the No2EU coalition which include; the Socialist Party of England and Wales (SPEW), which is the UK section of the CWI; the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), which is the largest in terms of membership of the various successors to the old CPGB;  and the RMT union that had been headed up by the late Bob Crow. Outside of the No2Eu coalition we have three other parties of interest; the Socialist Party of Great Britain (SPGB), who are regarded as being in the impossibilist tradition; the Socialist Labour Party (SLP), started by Arthur Scargil in response the the removal of clause 4 from the Labour Party’s constitution; and finally, the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) which split off from the Workers’ Revolutionary Party and its own International Committee of the Fourth International in the 1980’s. The new ‘Left Unity‘ party that was formed last year didn’t contest the European elections, but might be something to watch in the future if the ‘moderates’ like Salman Shaheen don’t take it down the road of ‘responsible’ parliamentarianism.

The Results don’t exactly fill one with any sense of hope about the future for socialism in the UK; the No2EU coalition got 0.20% of the vote, down 0.81% on the 1.01% they got in 2009, a lamentable decrease; the SPGB got 0.04%, an increase of 0.02% on the previous result; the SLP managed 0.03%, a massive decrease of 1.12% on the 1.15% they took in 2009; finally, the SEP received 0.03%, static on their result from 2009. these results constitute a collective decrease of 1.91% on the collective total of 2.22% they managed in 2009.

I suppose I should at least mention UKIP and the Liberal Democrats, both of whom have had widely divergent results. For UKIP, the constant attention the UK media have given to the stockbroker Nigel Farage has proved to be quite effective with an increase for them up to 27.49% of the vote and 24 seats, this represents an increase on their previous result of 10.99% and 11 seats; a sad indictment of the state of affairs in UK public discourse. As for the Lib Dems, never great players at the EU elections despite their federalist credentials, they’ll find themselves drowning soon enough in the ignominy of political obscurity if these results are anything to go by; down to 6.87% of the vote and only 1 solitary seat in Brussels, yet Nick Clegg continues apace in contrast to the litany of politician who’ve fallen on their swords post EU elections, like Gilmore here or Rubalcaba in Spain.

23. Listed Results

The results will be presented as a numbered list in the same order as they’ve appeared in all eight parts.

  1. Austria: Europa Anders [2.1%; 0 seats]
  2. Belgium: Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB-PvdA) [3.51%; 0 seats], Mouvement de Gauche (MG) [0.07%, 0 seats]
  3. Croatia: Croatian Labourists – Labour Party [3.4%; 0 seats], Socialist Labour Party (SRP) [0.19%; 0 seats]
  4. Cyprus: Progressive Party of Working Peoples (AKEL) [26.98%; 2 seats], Drasy-Eylem [0.86%; 0 seats], Cyprus Socialist Party [0.11%; 0 seats]
  5. Czech Republic: Communist Party of Bohemia & Moravia (KSČM) [10.98%; 3 seats]
  6. Denmark: People’s Movement against the EU [8.1%; 1 seat]
  7. France: Front de Gauche (FdG) [6.61%; 4 seats], New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) [0.39%; 0 seats], Workers’ Struggle (LO) [1.17%; 0 seats]
  8. Finland: Left Alliance [9.3%; 1 seat], Communist Party of Finland (SKP) [0.3%; 0 seats]
  9. Germany: Die Linke [7.4%; 7 seats], German Communist Party (DKP) [0.1%; 0 seats], Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD) [0.1%; 0 seats], Social Equality Party (PSG) [0.03%; 0 seats]. Additionally: Animal Welfare party (TP) [1.2%; 1 seat]
  10. Greece: SYRIZA [26.57%; 6 seats], Communist Party of Greece (KKE) [6.11%; 2 seats], ANTARSYA [0.72%; 0 seat], Plan B [0.2%; 0 seats], Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Greece (ML-KKE) [0.19%; 0 seats], Workers’ Revolutionary Party (EEK) [0.08%; 0 seat], Fighting Socialist Party of Greece* (ASKE) [0.06%; 0 seats], Organisation of International Communists of Greece (ODKE) [0.05%; 0 seats], Organisation for the Reconstruction of the Communist Party of Greece (OAKKE) [0.05%; 0 seats]. *officially the translation is ‘fighting’, but I can’t help but think that militant might be a better transliteration, I can’t speak Greek so I’m not too sure.
  11. Italy: The Other Europe (AET) [4.03%; 3 seats]
  12. Latvia: Latvian Socialist Party (LSP) [1.54%; 0 seats]
  13. Luxembourg: Déi Lénk [5.76%; 0 seats], Communist Party of Luxembourg (KPL) [1.49%; 0 seats]
  14. Netherlands: Socialist Party (SP) [9.6%; 2 seats]. Additionally, Party for the Animals (PvdD) [4.2%; 1 seat]
  15. Poland: Europa Plus* [3.58%; 0 seats], Zieloni** [0.23%; 0 seats]. * Includes Polish Labour Party (PPP). ** Includes Polish Socialist Party (PPS), which might be socialist, I’m exactly clear on that.
  16. Portugal: Portuguese Communist Party/Ecologist Party – The Greens (PCP-PEV) [12.69%; 3 seats], Left Bloc (BE) [4.56%; 1 seat], Portuguese Communist Workers’ Party (PCTP/MRPP) [1.67%; 0 seats], Socialist Alternative Movement (MAS) [0.38%; 0 seats], Workers’ Party of Socialist Unity (POUS) [0.11%; 0 seats]
  17. Romania: Socialist Alternative Party (PAS) [0.17%; 0 seats]
  18. Slovakia: Communist Party of Slovakia (KSS) [1.51%; 0 seats], Dawn [0.49%; 0 seats]
  19. Slovenia: United Left (ZL) [5.47%; 0 seats]
  20. Spain: Izquierda Plural (IP) [10.03%; 6 seats], Podemos [7.98%; 5 seats], Los Pueblos Deciden (LPD) [2.08%; 1 seat], Communist Party of the People’s of Spain (PCPE) [0.19%; 0 seats]
  21. Sweden: Left Party (VP) [6.3%; 1 seat], Socialist Welfare Party (SVP) [0.0%; 0 seats], Communist Party (KP) [0.0%; 0 seats]. Communist Party of Sweden (SKP) [0.0%; 0 seats]
  22. United Kingdom: No2EU [0.2%; 0 seats], Socialist Party of Great Britain (SPGB) [0.04; 0 seats], Socialist Labour Party (SLP) [0.03%; 0 seats], Socialist Equality Party (SEP) [0.03%; 0 seats]

EDIT: Looking back over the results in Europe I noticed that I missed a party in Estonia that probably warranted attention, the Estonian United Left Party (EÜVP), who got 226 votes, the small size of that vote tally probably explains why I missed them. Additionally I’ve decided to list the Irish results to make things complete. 

  1. Estonia: Estonian United Left Party (EÜVP) [0.07%; 0 seats]
  2. Ireland: Sinn Fein (SF) [ROI: 19.52%; 3 seats] [NI: 25.52%; 1 seat], Socialist Party (SP) [ROI: 1.81%; 0 seats], People Before Profit Alliance (PBPA) [ROI: 1.44%; 0 seats]

And that concludes my series on the European election, I hope it was informative and as always any corrections are welcome. Additionally I hope that injecting a dose of Swedish music that isn’t ABBA might have interested people.

European Parliament Election 2014: Post-mortem (Part 4)

In this fourth part of my series of posts on the 2014 European elections I will concentrate on Finland, Germany and Greece

8. Finland

Finland traditionally was a stronghold of socialist support in western Europe, although in recent years that has slackened off somewhat with the continued moderation of the Left Alliance who were the result of the merger in 1990 of the old Communist Party of Finland(SKP) and the Finnish People’s Democratic League(SKDL), though it must be said that the SKP operated inside the SKDL with a majority for what I understand to be the entirety of the SKDL’s existance from 1944 to 1990. This moderation on the behalf of the Left Alliance resulted in their participation in the Finnish government formed after the 2011 general election, something that two Left Alliance MPs voted against and were expelled for. The Left Alliance leader Paavo Arhinmäki even became the “Minister of Culture”, obviously fighting the good fight against all those pernicious cuts to arts funding that the millions are out on the streets militating and agitating about. At any rate the Left Alliance come January 2014 decided they’d had enough of coalition and walked out of coalition, ostensibly because of spending cuts and tax rises. In the 2009 European Parliament election the Left Alliance had lost their seat having only clocked in with 5.93% of the vote and falling foul of the Christian Democrats strategy of linking their list to the list of the buoyant True Finns party, something Finnish electoral law allows for; consequently the Left Alliance see the potential for regaining that seat to be the way to revitalise their party after it’s stint in government. The other part of interest in the world of socialism in Finland is the Communist Party of Finland, which was founded as the Communist Party of Finland (Unity) in 1985 as a “Traditionalist” split from the Communist Party that was mention previously as having dissolved itself into the Left Alliance. The party reformed itself in 1997 as the current Communist Party of Finland (SKP). It must be said that both the Left Alliance and the SKP are affiliated to the Party of the European Left, though that hasn’t stopped the SKP criticising the Left Alliance’s dalliances in government; an oblique example of which can be found in the post-mortem of the European elections that SKP themselves have published on their website.

As to the actual results themselves, the Left Alliance managed to increase their vote by 3.4% to reach 9.3% of the vote, regaining their seat in the process. For the SKP, the election was less successful with a decrease in the vote they managed in 2009 of 0.1% from 0.4% to 0.3%. The Christian Democrats lost the seat they cleverly engineered at the last election, my understanding is that the electoral fusion with the Finns Party wasn’t continued this time around. For the Finns Party themselves they flattered to deceive with their comparatively high polling prior to the election (17.1% in one poll only days before the vote) coming in with only 12.9% of the vote, an increase of 3.1% and one seat on their previous score, but below what was expected from this odious nationalist outfit who have joined the UK Conservative Party’s group, the ECR, in order to give themselves some form of “respectability”.

9. Germany

In practical terms the most important piece of information about the European elections in Germany this time round is not anything about the state of German domestic politics, but instead about the German constitutional courts and their striking down of the 5% threshold that had existed at the last election. The response to this by the German government was to introduce a lower 3% threshold, however the constitutional court then subsequently decided that this wasn’t enough and struck that down as well. This all resulted in the German component of the European election being conducted without a threshold in-place to prevent small parties from getting their hands on at least one of the 96 seats that are allocated to Germany. The effect of this ruling can be seen if we look at the results as they would have been in 2009 without the 5% threshold: CDU 32, SPD 21, Green 12, FDP 11, Linke 8, CSU 7, FW 2, Repubikaner 1, Tierschuzpartei 1, Familienpartei 1, Piraten 1, Rentnerpartei 1, and ÖDP 1. This is against the actual result which was: CDU 34, SPD 23, Green 14, FDP 12, Linke 8, CSU 8. Quite a difference with 7 extra parties getting at least 1 seat each. Because of how difficult it is for pollsters to track the support of really small political groups it was considered something of a curious question as to which of these parties and indeed the other small parties might win seats. The Fears were there that the neo-nazi NPD would win a seat, something they’ve only been able to do at regional level thus far.

Parties of interest in Germany for these election as far as socialism goes include the reformist Die Linke party, formed as a merger of the Party of Democratic Socialism (successor to the SED of the DDR) and WASG, a broad movement that formed in 2005. Die Linke has absorbed much of the Germany “left” under its electoral aegis, including the CWI affiliate Socialist Alternative and the IST affiliated Marx21, though not all of it. Other groups include the German Communist Party (DKP), founded in the 1960’s as a replacement for the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) which had been banned by the West German Government in the 1950’s. The Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD), anti-revisionist in nature and eschewing the term “Maoism”, founded in 1982. Additionally there is the Social Equality Party (PSG), which is linked to the UK’s Socialist Equality Party through the “International Committee of the Fourth International”, founded in 1997.

The election itself was something of a humdrum affair with Die Linke’s vote, 7.4%,  being almost identical to their vote in 2009, 7.5%. The greater degree of freedom offered to the electorate might explain the slight loss. For the DKP they received 0.1% of the vote, identical in percentage terms to their result in 2009 and indeed almost identical in terms of the number of actual votes. The MLPD also achieved 0.1% of the vote. For both of these parties you’d imagine there is unhappiness at not being able to capitalise on the removal of threshold considering that the smallest percentage achieved that gained a seat in this election was only 0.63% for the satirical “Die Partei”. For the PSG the result was almost identical to their result in 2009 with 0.03% this time around compared to 0.04% then.  As far as GUE/NGL are concerned seats-wise, Die Linke  lost 1 seat, due in no small part to the removal of the threshold and the reduction to 96 seat from 99; however GUE/NGL gained that lost seat back in the form of the MEP elected for the Tierschutzpartei, which is an animal rights party that received 1.2% of the vote. Other results from Germany included the neo-nazi NPD gaining that seat that was feared they would,  though with only 1.0% of the vote some might be inclined to breath a sigh of relief that they aren’t too popular, and the 7.0% of the vote and 7 seats achieved by the Eurosceptic AfD party. The emergence of Euroscepticism in the core of the EU has much greater importance that the emergence of it elsewhere considering the ability of countries like Germany and France to disassemble the EU if wanted, something that is difficult to imagine for the smaller member states.

10. Greece

Greece has been the subject of much talk internationally in recent years due to both it’s economic situation and the ensuing political consequences so I’ll desist from actually providing an overview of the country’s political climate as I’m likely to only be re-hashing what people already know. As such I’ll just list the political parties that I’ll cover, give links to their website, give the results and give one or two comments on the results.

Parties of interest for Greece include SYRIZA, headed up by the European Left’s candidate for EU Commission president Alexis Tsipras, and were formed in 2004 as a broad coalition of radical left parties. Secondly there is the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), strongly orthodox in its outlook. Thirdly there is ANTARSYA, a coalition of revolutionary parties that includes amongst its numbers the Greek section of the International Socialist Tendency, Socialist Workers’ Party, and the Greek section of the Fourth International, OKDE-Spartacus. Outside of this there are a number of smaller groups and parties that choose to contest elections in Greece on their own rather than as part of a broader coalition, the only one of these groups that I think warrants interest is Plan B which is headed up by ex-SYRIZA leader Alekos Alavanos, my understanding is that they take a stronger line on the Euro than SYRIZA.

The election itself was a serious success for SYRIZA with their vote increasing by 21.87% from 4.7% in 2009 to 26.57% this time around. That is a remarkable increase for a party that has been subject to the full force of the Greek capitalist establishment’s media war machine; that increase sees their number of seats increase from 1 in 2009 to 6 now. For the KKE the election had them down from their 2009 result of 8.35% to 6.11% this time around, though having been squeezed by SYRIZA to just 4.5% in the June 2012 general election they will more than likely be happier with this outcome than that one two years ago. This result meant that they kept their 2 seats in Brussels, although they won’t be sitting with GUE/NGL this time around due to a lack of belief in the direct GUE/NGL are taking; I’d imagine it has more to do with SYRIZA supplanting them as the main Greek contingent to GUE/NGL though, certainly I can’t see why they’d feel more comfortable in the non-inscrit with the neo-nazis (indeed with Greece’s very own Golden Dawn Party’s 3 MEPs) than with the parties of GUE/NGL, something that that is the inevitable consequence of the withdrawal. For ANTARSYA the result was an improvement on their June 2012 General election result and improvement on their 2009 Euro result; they received 0.72% this time around compared with 0.43% in 2009 and 0.33% in the June 2012 general election. These might be low numbers but ANTARSYA as deceptive here as they tend to have greater support at a local level in Greece than on a national level; analysis by the pollster Public Issue has their support in the locals at 2.3% nationally. For Alekos Alavanos’ party Plan B, fighting it’s first European Parliament elections, it received a total of 0.2% of the vote, not a lot considering his position as a former head of SYRIZA; though you can never rule out an increase if SYRIZA fail to live up to exceptions in the future.

A final word here must be for the right-wing split from SYRIZA, the Democratic Left (DIMAR) who were also fighting their first European elections and who flopped with only 1.2% of the vote, well down on the 6.25% they had taken in the June 2012 general election; this apparently has lead to much soul searching in the party, though one imagines that soul won’t be searched for for very long.

That concludes part four of my series on the European elections 2014, I should say that if anybody spots an error please feel free to correct me. Stay tuned for part five.