UKIP

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 5)

In the latest part of my series on the European elections 2014 I’ll cover Italy, Latvia and Luxembourg; I’ll  be skipping over Ireland as my readership is almost exclusively Irish so there wouldn’t exactly be must gained out of writing a section on what is already widely know to them; also I’ll be skipping over Hungary as the Hungarian Workers’ Party, who gained 0.58% in the General election in April, have decided to boycott the elections, with no other group contesting the elections from what I’ve been able to discern; and finally I’ll be skipping over Lithuania as I can’t see any socialist parties amongst the results.

11. Italy

The one thing that can always be guaranteed about Italian politics is that it’s wonderfully incoherent, and in a modern context absolutely obsessed with the notion of electoral reform as the panacea for all political ills.  Something they shared with Ireland’s middle-classes, though with the upside that our electoral system is hard wired into the constitution making it difficult to subject us to the not one, not two, but three reforms to the electoral code that have happened in Italy after the implosion of the conventional order there in the early 1990’s with the “Mani Pulite” scandal and the self-immolation of the Italian Communist Party (PCI). The latest round of electoral reforms involve giving the “winner” an 18% seat bonus and imposing a 12% threshold on coalitions of parties, including an internal 5% on the parties actually in that coalition, and a 7% threshold for parties outside of coalitions.The consequences of this little arrangement would have been to exclude from parliament at the last general election everyone except the Democratic Party (PD) of PM Matteo Renzi, the People of Freedom party (Since dissolved) of Silvio Berlusconi and the Five Star Movement of comedian turned political messiah Beppe Grillo. I should state at this point that Berlusconi fell out with the PD government he’d been bounced into supporting and relaunched his old Forza Italia party, taking the Majority of the PdL’s MPs with him, though not all; the deserters went on to form the “New Centre-Right” party, snappy that! For more on those changes to the electoral system I’d like to direct people towards this article by Giulia Pastorella of the London School of Economics.

As for Italian socialist forces, most of them decided to coalesce into the The Other Europe list, unofficially styled as the “Tsipras list”; included amongst this list were the Re-foundation Communist Party (PRC) and the Sinistra Ecologia e libertá (SEL), with the Pirate Party in tow as well. The Party of Italian Communists (PdCI) were initially part of the alliance too, however they withdrew because of a lack of their people on the lists presented to the electorate. By the by, Fabio Amato of the PRC had a piece in the Transform! Europe/Rosa Luxembourg foundation supplement “Europe has a different future” that was released in March, his piece starts on page 16 and deals with some of the issues surrounding the formation of the Tsipras list; an interesting read, especially illuminating on the meandering position of the SEL and the discord between its grass-roots and its leadership. No other lists of significance were presented to the Italian public as far as I can see from the official results.

My readers will be well aware of my interest in opinion polling so it might not surprise them that I think the most interesting aspect of the results of the election was not the success of the Tsipras list in getting above the 4% threshold imposed on parties in the election, but rather the discord between the actual result and the opinion polling averages for the 9th of May (the last day that it was legal to publish polling; Italy has an embargo on them in the last 15 days before elections). If we look at the polling average (image below) we can see that the PD have been underestimated by a staggering 8.11%, with almost every other party being the subject of an overestimate. I’d imagine that the Italian polling firms will be eager to put all this behind them, though for the layman I’d strongly suggest that this is one of the most important examples as to why opinion polling shouldn’t be taken as infallible. All sorts of errors can creep into polls, including the political biases or political wish-fulfilment of the head honchos and underlings, those biases can ripple through the polling world as other pollsters start to think “Are our methods in the wrong?”, changes occur, polls get further away from reality, and then, crunch, massive error, egg on face etc.

Italian Polling

The Tsipras list in this election just about managed to creep above that 4% threshold as I said above, to elaborate they received 4.03%, 0.03% above the threshold, and indeed a far cry from the collective 34.77% received by the PCI and the Proletarian Democracy party in the European elections thirty years ago in 1984. This 4.03% translated out into 3 seats, a controversy here is that Barbara Spinelli, who ran at the top of the list in almost all the constituencies, was supposed to decline to take up her seat, thus allowing the seats to be divied amongst the constituent groups in the list, however she elected to take the seat in the Centre constituency, leaving the SEL without an MEP, much to their annoyance . Grillo’s lot flopped somewhat with only 21.15% of the vote, down on the 25.55% they got in the general election of 2013, and down as well on the polling shown above; one wonders what the move to sit with Nigel Farage and UKIP in the EFD grouping in Brussels will do for M5S’s support in the future? a wilting of the youthful vote perhaps to the benefit of Italian socialism? EDIT: some might have noticed that I’ve corrected a transcription error above that gave the PCI and Proletarian Democracy a combined 43.77% rather than the 34.77% of reality. apologies for that accidental inflation.

Another amusing aspect of the elections in Italy is the officially published figures for the votes of the Italians living in Ireland, with M5S having the lead with a staggering 41.78% of the 947 votes cast; Tsipras list with 11.83%. Personally I’m inclined to think that the high numbers for the M5S are probably a result of the Italians living in Ireland being detached from the Italian body politic and thus being lead more by the International media’s coverage of Italian politics which has definitely bigged M5S up as the anti-establishment vote.

12. Latvia

Latvia’s political climate has in the past been more amenable to parties associated to GUE/NGL, or likely to associate to them than the other Baltic countries. At the Last election the Latvian Socialist Party (LSP), which is effectively a continuation of the Communist Party of Latvia (LKP), which was the Latvian section of the CPSU, in coalition with the Social Democratic Party “Harmony” (SDPS) as “Harmony Centre” (SC), won a seat that was taken up by Alfreds Rubiks, who was the last head of the LKP before it was banned in 1991 (Rubiks incidentally has some distasteful views on Homosexuality, examples of which can be found here in this article on the LSP’s website); the coalition won two seats in all with a total of 19.57% of the vote. The LSP and the SDPS have in the past been viewed as being pro-Russian and thus it could be argued that a larger than ordinary percentage of their support comes from the large Russian speaking community in Latvia. The SC coalition won a total of 28.36% of the vote in the Latvian general election in 2011, so it would have been expected that they should do well in the European elections, especially considering the political turmoil created for the governing EPP affiliated “Unity” party after the collapse of the roof of a supermarket in Riga last November. Going into the actual election itself, the LSP and the SDPS didn’t run as part of the same coalition but instead as separate entities. Something that didn’t bode well for the LSP’s ability to retain their seat.

Those results proved to be disastrous for the LSP with only 1.54% of the vote, well short of the kind of percentage need to pick-up one of the eight seats up for grabs. It was no better for their former SC allies the SDPS who achieved a very low 13.04% of the vote, not exactly the sort of form that would have been expected for a party that would have been positioning itself up power after the general election due in October of this year. Perhaps a reason as to why they performed so poorly might be to do with the strong showing by the “Latvian Russian Union” with 6.38% of the vote and a seat, perhaps the ground swell of anti-Russian rhetoric might have pushed at least a proportion of Latvia’s Russo-phones towards a party that exists exclusively to represent them rather than parties who are more broadly focused. Though another reason, and one that might explain the strong 46.19% for the “Unity” party, could be the low turnout of only 30.24%, and indeed only 23.4% in Latgale region with its large ethnic Russian population.

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p style=”text-align:center;”>13. Luxembourg

You wouldn’t necessarily think of the little dodgy bankers paradise Luxembourg as fertile ground for socialism in any of its varieties, however that wouldn’t be so true, in fact as recently as 1968 the Communist Party of Luxembourg (KPL) was getting as much as 13.1% of the vote. Alas times changed and the KPL went on the slide, exiting parliament in 1994 with only 1.7% of the vote. However five years on in 1999 they were back, this time as a part of the broader Déi Lénk (The Left) party. The Left entered parliament in 1999 with 3.3% of the vote, small, but an improvement none the less, however this success was short lived as the KPL and the other sectors of the Left fell into disagreement and they contested the 2004 general elections independent of the Left; this split proved fatal as neither managed enough votes to enter parliament. This state of affairs continued through to the general election in 2009 when the Left managed to re-enter parliament, again with 3.3% of the vote and 1 seat, with the KPL achieving a further 1.4%. The Left increased their vote to 4.94% and 2 seats in the 2013 general election, so an outside chance of a seat in the European elections wasn’t to be ruled out.

As far as Luxembourg’s politics in general is concerned, it was dominated for a long time by Jean-Claude Juncker of the Christian Social people’s Party (CSV; EPP affiliated), however he resigned in 2013 over a scandal that involved his mishandling of the Luxembourg secret police, the SREL. Amusingly the EPP adjudged him the right man to replace Barroso as Commission president, though who needs competence when all of your policies come direct from the corporate world?

As to the election itself, the Left managed a creditable 5.76%, and increase both on their 2009 score of 3.37% and their 2013 general election result mentioned above. This result didn’t give them a seat as Luxembourg only has 6 seats to allocate and that small number just doesn’t provide the kind of proportionality that would reward that kind of result with a seat, although it did reward the CSV’s 37.65% with 3 seats, or in other words 50% of the total number of seats available. The KPL got 1.49% of the vote, a modest loss of 0.05% on their result from 2009; they seem to have been truly eclipsed by the Left.

That concludes part five of my series, as always if anyone spots errors please feel free to mention them.