Source: ECFR February 2019

1. Austria: The FPÖ is the main party of Austria’s far right. The junior partner in the ruling coalition, the FPÖ is strongly anti-immigration and Eurosceptic, opposing not just “ever closer union”, but also the EU’s focus on the rule of law and its trade liberalisation initiatives. Members of the Europe of Nations and Freedom group in the EP, they maintain close links to Alternative für Deutschland, Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National in France, and Law and Justice in Poland. Between 2015 and 2017, the FPÖ led in Austria’s opinion polls but ended up coming third in the 2017 Austrian parliamentary election, with 26 percent of the vote – which is, more or less, its current level of support. The FPÖ is projected to win five MEP seats.

2. Belgium: One dynamic that is playing out on the right of the political spectrum is crucial in Flanders. There, the right-wing New Flemish Alliance (NVA), a member of the ECR, is trying not to lose ground to the far-right Vlaams Belang (VB), a member of the Europe of Nations and Freedom group. As it does so, the NVA is becoming increasingly hardline on migration – and it left the ruling coalition in December 2018 in protest against the country’s support for the UN Global Compact on migration. Current polls suggest that the NVA and the VB will win four MEP seats and one MEP seat respectively, but this may change. Meanwhile, on the left of the spectrum is the far-left PTB/PVDA, which is a member of European United Left–Nordic Green Left group, and which has been critical of the EU. Seeking its first MEP, it has already pulled the region’s Socialist Party further to the left. At a federal level, this growing polarisation will likely complicate the formation of the next Belgian government: the main Flemish party, the NVA, refuses to govern with the main Walloon one, the Socialists.

3. Bulgaria: Despite representing the mainstream, factions within Bulgaria’s two main parties (especially the BSP and, to a lesser extent, GERB) have veered sharply towards conservative, nationalist, and even Eurosceptic positions in recent years, following the lead of Viktor Orbán’s Hungary. These aside, there are strongly Eurosceptic politicians in Bulgaria – particularly within the United Patriots, which is a loose coalition of three nationalist parties (the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria, the Bulgarian National Movement, and Ataka), and which serves as a junior partner in the current national government. With 9 percent support in the polls, it hopes to win one MEP seat in 2019. The three United Patriots parties are, to varying degrees, pro-Russian and Eurosceptic – but they are also mired in internal infighting.

4. Croatia: The decline of the SDP in recent years has provided space for new parties, such as the centre-right MOST and the anti-EU Human Shield. The latter is rising in the polls, largely due to its anti-migration discourse, which finds fertile ground in Croatia’s growing xenophobia. Human Shield is not just Eurosceptic but also anti-establishment, pro-Russian, and critical of NATO and of integration with the West. Its members do not conceal their close links to Moscow nor contact with former US presidential campaign adviser Steve Bannon and the Movement. If Human Shield enters the EP in 2019, this will provide a strong boost to the party’s popularity at home.

5. Cyprus: The ultranationalist, Eurosceptic ELAM, which is affiliated with Greece’s Golden Dawn, stands a real chance of getting one MEP seat. Currently, the party polls in fourth place, with the support of six percent of voters. ELAM opposes European integration and advocates a Europe of nations instead. It also promotes Greek nationalism and exhibits neo-fascist leanings.

6. Czech Republic: Various degrees of Euroscepticism are evident on the Czech political scene. On the far right, Tomio Okamura’s Freedom and Direct Democracy party will likely campaign against migration, eurozone accession, and Czech EU membership in general. Supported by 8-9 percent of voters, it is projected to gain one or two MEP seats. Interestingly, similar messages (and an analogous pro-Russian orientation) will feature in the campaign of the far-left Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, which may win one MEP seat. These two radical parties aside, the conservative Civic Democratic Party (a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists in the EP) will call for a return of competencies to member states and for the Czech Republic to obtain opt-outs from the EU’s common asylum policy and eurozone accession. Currently polling second, it should win four MEP seats. Still, the party might shift closer to the European mainstream if, after the 2019 election, it joins the European People’s Party.

7. Denmark: The Danish People’s Party is the main representative of Denmark’s far right – and is currently the second-biggest party in the country’s parliament. It is an ally of the Sweden Democrats in the EP, Eurosceptic, and critical of institutionalised international cooperation more broadly. The party provides parliamentary support to the country’s centre-right ruling coalition but is not part of the government, largely because of their opposing views on EU issues. The Danish People’s Party is projected to obtain two or three MEP seats. The far-right Red-Green Alliance (which may secure a single seat) is also Eurosceptic, but mostly for reasons of democratic legitimacy rather than on anti-refugee grounds.

8. Estonia: The Conservative People’s Party is the only genuine far-right party in Estonia. Its popularity has skyrocketed in the last four years. From less than 5 percent in the polls before 2015, it now stands at almost 20 percent today. If it maintains this level of support, this anti-European (not just Eurosceptic) party will claim one or two MEP seats – and may also enter the next national government. The party opposes further EU integration, migration, and Brussels’s focus on the rule of law. It claims to defend the sovereignty of states and national cultures.

9. Finland: The Finns Party has splintered during the current parliamentary term. After the departure of more moderate members, who created Blue Reform and joined the ruling coalition, the Finns Party has drifted even further towards the radical right. It is a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists, like other Eurosceptic parties from Sweden and Denmark. Anti-refugee, Eurosceptic, and increasingly anti-globalisation, it has the steady support of around 10 percent of the electorate. This should provide it with at least one MEP. Finland’s radical (but still largely pro-European) left is represented by the Left Alliance (a member of European United Left–Nordic Green Left group). It can also expect to win one MEP seats. There is, however, no prospect of cooperation between the two, despite the fact that they both criticise the current state of the EU.

10. France: Rassemblement National (formerly the Front National) dominates the Eurosceptic camp in France and is projected to win the EP election. Like Italy’s Lega (with which it maintains close links), Le Pen’s party will campaign for border controls, greater national sovereignty, and a “union of European nations”. It is projected to win around 22 MEP seats. Nicolas Dupont-Aignan’s Debout La France will try to draw support from “all the country’s patriots and republicans”, hoping to take some votes from both Le Pen’s party and the divided Républicains, and to pass the 5 percent threshold. Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise – polling at 8 percent – has established a hegemonic position on the country’s far left, largely due to the decay of the Socialists. It is projected to win ten seats. While there is no possibility that the country’s far right and far left will agree on a common agenda for Europe, there are remarkable parallels between them on economic issues (anti-trade; critical of the euro) and their use of anti-establishment rhetoric.

11. Germany: The AfD – which is Eurosceptic, anti-immigration, anti-Islam, nationalist, and deeply conservative – represents Germany’s far right in the Bundestag. A recent draft of the AfD’s manifesto for the EP election suggests that it is pushing for Germany to leave the EU if it does not succeed with fundamental reform in the next electoral cycle. But the party is still debating this position. In recent months, the AfD’s share of the vote has levelled off at 15 percent in the polls – higher than the record 12.6 percent it won in the 2017 federal election (which gave it 91 seats in the Bundestag). For now, with the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy EP group holding only one seat, the AfD does not play a role in the European Parliament. This year, the party is projected to win at least 13 MEP seats. On the far left, Die Linke has a populist bent, despite generally focusing on social Europe and a humanitarian approach to asylum and migration policy. The party advocates an alternate security system to NATO – with some of its members supporting a softer policy on Russia – but has not abandoned its overall commitment to EU institutions and the euro. Polling at 9 percent, Die Linke is likely to retain its eight MEP seats. The party is currently undergoing another round of internal competition over its overall direction: in 2018 its leader in the Bundestag, Sahra Wagenknecht, became one of the founders of the aufstehen movement, which is inspired by La France Insoumise and British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Momentum campaign.

12. Greece: Two Eurosceptic Greek parties are expected to win seats in the EP in 2019. Golden Dawn – a neo-Nazi, anti-EU outfit – could win two MEP seats, just as it did in 2014. The Communist Party of Greece – which advocates for the country’s withdrawal from the EU – should gain one seat. There is no plausible way in which these two Eurosceptic parties will collaborate. However, they share many key standpoints, opposing: trade liberalisation; Brussels’s focus on the rule of law; ever closer union; and new legal pathways for immigration.

13. Hungary: Jobbik broke up after the 2018 national parliamentary election. Its former leader, Gábor Vona, stood down. The party’s new leadership continues Vona’s strategy of deradicalising the party’s line and adopting a more moderate tone on the EU (for example, it no longer argues for Hungary to leave the EU). More extremist former members of Jobbik have established a new party, Our Home Movement, which polls at just 1-2 percent currently but could eventually draw some support away from Jobbik – although with little chance of passing the 5 percent threshold needed to claim at least one MEP seat. Although anti-immigrant and Eurosceptic, Jobbik is a staunch critic of the Orbán government, so there is no possibility of an alliance between the two.

14. Ireland: Sinn Féin is a party of the left and a member of the Greens in the EP. It currently polls third, at 23 percent, which should give it three MEPs. Sinn Féin is critical of trade liberalisation and of ever closer union, and maintains loose links with Syriza and Podemos. But it is still a long way from being a far-left party, and has adopted a reformist approach to Europe. It will almost certainly emphasise the issue of protecting Ireland’s neutrality. It may also campaign on introducing a fairer tax system and its usual ticket of a “Europe of equals”. Still, all its positions on these topics have a clear pro-European dimension. Despite Brexit, there is no serious Eurosceptic voice in Ireland’s public debate. A new anti-EU party called Irexit Freedom to Prosper has emerged recently and will enter a candidate in the 2019 EP election – but it is a fringe initiative whose chances of success are close to zero.

15. Italy: Italy’s two largest parties are both deeply Eurosceptic, albeit in different ways. The Five Star Movement is polling in second place after winning last year’s general election. While a member of the Eurosceptic Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group in the EP, its anti-trade and anti-austerity agenda is in many respects much closer to the European radical left. Large parts of the Five Star Movement electorate have been disappointed with its coalition with the far right. This may prompt the Five Star Movement’s leadership to form a coalition of European anti-establishment parties ahead of the 2019 election, as its recent interactions with Poland’s right-wing Kukiz’15 and Croatia’s Human Shield may suggest. In turn, Lega is a traditional Eurosceptic right-wing party that also serves as a platform for more radical representatives of the far right (such as supporters of the “Brothers of Italy”), who may also cross the 4 percent threshold. In 2019 Lega will campaign in a pan-European coalition of right-wing Eurosceptics, and is poised for a clear victory – possibly becoming one of the two biggest national parties in the next EP, alongside Germany’s Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union.

16. Latvia: Latvia’s political scene is very dynamic but has not seen the emergence of Eurosceptic parties. KPV LV, which finished second in the general election, has so far managed not to express its opinion on the EU or foreign policy matters in general. Like the New Conservative Party, the KPV LV is a dark horse in the 2019 contest; each hopes to win at least one MEP seat. The KPV LV, established in 2016, is an anti-establishment party that often veers towards right-wing populism, akin to Poland’s Kukiz’15. The New Conservative Party, formed in 2014, is pro-European and intergovernmentalist, which could make it a potential ally for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Polish leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski in the EU. One of Latvia’s mainstream parties, National Alliance, is already close to Poland’s Law and Justice, as part of the European Conservatives and Reformists group in the EP; it expects to retain its one MEP seat.

17. Lithuania: As Lithuania has one of the most pro-European societies in the EU, there is little room for anti-European rhetoric in the public debate. This is why parties most often campaign on a socio-economic rather than an anti-European (or identity-based) platform. The Labour Party – which has a populist bent despite being centrist and a member of the liberal ALDE grouping – is the only major party to have used anti-immigrant rhetoric. Order and Justice tends to adopt far-right positions and is a member of the anti-establishment, far-right Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy EP group. It is projected to win 1-2 MEP seats. The Lithuanian Centre Party, another Eurosceptic group, aims to win one seat. Finally, Electoral Action of Lithuanian Poles is a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists and is close to Poland’s Law and Justice. It may win one seat.

18. Luxembourg: Properly speaking, there is no far-right party in Luxembourg. The right-wing Alternative Democratic Reform Party (ADR; a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists in the EP) is Eurosceptic in that it opposes deeper European integration and prefers intergovernmental cooperation on trade and security. It is also the only voice on the country’s political scene that is sceptical of immigration, although it supports accepting refugees from war-torn regions and did not treat migration as a major issue in the last national election. The party’s Euroscepticism was one of the key reasons behind the centre-right CSV’s decision to rule out a possible coalition with it after the October 2018 election. On the other side of the political spectrum, Dei Lenk (the Left; part of the European United Left–Nordic Green Left group in the EP) is mildly Eurosceptic, but for different reasons: it campaigns for a greater focus on a common European social agenda within the EU. ADR is projected to win one MEP seat at best, while Dei Lenk is most likely to not win any. Aside from the communists (who received just 1 percent of the vote in this year’s general election), no party advocates Luxembourg’s exit from the EU.

19. Malta: Malta has two far-right parties: Imperium Europa and Moviment Patrijotti Maltin. However, neither stands a chance of entering the EP. Likewise, it is highly unlikely that the centre-right Nationalist Party would countenance a coalition with either of them. Democratic Alternative is the only far-left party in Malta. It builds its platform primarily on environmental issues. With the support of around 3 percent of the electorate, it has never entered the national parliament or the EP. The extreme nationalist and xenophobic rhetoric of Malta’s far-right parties is anathema to the progressive supporters of Democratic Alternative.

20.Netherlands: There are two right-wing nationalist parties in the Netherlands: Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom, which is currently polling in second place (with 20 percent of the vote) and could secure four or five seats; and Thierry Baudet’s Forum for Democracy, which may obtain two seats. Both parties are strongly Eurosceptic, calling for the Netherlands to leave the EU, but they compete for the same voters. The Dutch far left also consists of two main parties: the pro-European Green Left, which is currently polling in third place (with 17 percent) and could win four seats; and the Socialist Party, which is critical of the EU and may win two seats. While all four parties oppose trade liberalisation, there is little chance they will cooperate with one another – most of all because the far right wants to dismantle the EU while the Socialist Party only seeks reduced EU integration.

21. Poland: PiS is currently the most important soft Eurosceptic party in Poland. PiS politicians present themselves as “EU realists” but they would like to seriously shift European integration back in the name of national sovereignty. Thus, the party’s mild Euroscepticism goes far beyond tension with Brussels over the rule of law. After the 2019 election, given the uncertain future of the ECR group, the party’s 24 or so MEPs may play an important role in the realignment of the nationalist camp in the EP. But several hotly debated corruption scandals involving PiS politicians may harm the party’s performance in the EP election. The much smaller but more ideologically engaged, anti-establishment, and the anti-migration Kukiz’15 (which has recently been in touch with Italy’s Five Star Movement) may also win four or five MEP seats. Other radical right parties (including Liberty, a member of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group) are trying to create a common list, which may enable them to pass the threshold for representation in the EP.

22. Portugal: Because it experienced many decades of authoritarian rule, Portugal has no far right. Having flirted with Euroscepticism in the mid-1990s, CDS has now firmly abandoned it and is committed to a pro-EU agenda and to the defence of transatlantic relations. Portugal has two far-left parties that are strongly critical of the EU: the Portuguese Communist Party and the Left Bloc. Both are members of European United Left–Nordic Green Left group in the EP; they are projected to win 2-3 and 1-2 MEP seats each. Left Bloc is seen as a “new left” party, similar to Spain’s Podemos or Greece’s Syriza, in its criticism of capitalism and of bureaucratic procedures that restrict popular participation. At the same time, however, both are strong opponents of racism as well as of a xenophobic and nationalist narrative in the EU, making them improbable partners for the EU’s far right in Brussels and Strasbourg.

23. Romania: There are no significant strong far-right parties in Romania. The leaders of the two most prominent ones – the Greater Romania Party and Noua Dreapta – do not appeal to most of the electorate. This is largely because far-right political groups formed part of the government, or ran large municipalities, during the economic catastrophe of the early post-communist years. The Romanian Socialist Party is the country’s most powerful far-left party: it won 34 local seats in 2013 but has been on the decline since. In this context, Romania has a bigger problem with populism in the mainstream than outside it.

24. Slovakia: People’s Party Our Slovakia, led by Marian Kotleba, is the most influential far-right party in Slovakia, and the only one with a countrywide support. Having obtained more than 8 percent of the vote in the 2016 parliamentary election, it may win one or two MEP seats this year. It has gained in popularity through anti-Roma rhetoric. But it also campaigns against the EU, refugees, NATO, and the establishment. The SNS, the second-strongest partner in the ruling coalition, was formerly considered to be close to the far right but, under the leadership of Andrej Danko, it has recently moved towards the centre-right – while remaining critical of some aspects of European integration.

25. Slovenia: The Slovenian National Party is the only genuine far-right group in the country. However, it polls at just 3 percent and has no prospects of winning any MEP seats this year. Yet the SDS, which has led the polls since 2015, increasingly falls into the category of right-wing populism. It forms part of the European People’s Party but, under the highly divisive leadership of Janez Janša, is moving in the direction of an illiberal ideology reminiscent of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. SDS strongly opposes legal migration into the EU, as well as Brussels’s focus on rule of law issues across Europe. The party is projected to win three MEP seats. Levica is Eurosceptic on some issues, such as monetary union, foreign policy, and security, and pro-European on others, such as social affairs and development. It currently provides parliamentary support to the centre-left coalition and looks set to win one MEP seat.

26.Spain: With the unexpected rise of new far-right, anti-EU party Vox in recent months, the Spanish exception to right-wing populism seems to be coming to an end. After its surprisingly strong performance in the December 2018 regional elections, Vox entered parliament and supported the coalition government in Andalusia, which includes the People’s Party and Ciudadanos. Vox could win six or seven MEP seats in May. This would be the second time that a party with no representation in the Spanish national parliament acquired seats in the EP – after Podemos did so in 2014. Podemos itself could increase its number of MEP seats from five to more than ten. However, after securing seats in the national parliament in 2016, Podemos has become more moderate in its ideology and discourse, making it an improbable partner for the far right in the EP.

27.Sweden: The country’s far right is represented by the Sweden Democrats, which belongs to the European Conservatives and Reformists EP group. The party is projected to win 4-5 MEP seats, up from its current two. As the most anti-migration party in Sweden, it has grown in popularity since the 2015 migration crisis. On several occasions, the Sweden Democrats have opposed Swedish EU membership, despite very low levels of support for leaving the union in the population at large. In 2017 some former members of the Sweden Democrats set up Alternativ för Sverige, inspired by Alternative für Deutschland. The new party will field candidates in 2019’s EP election. But there is barely any chance that they will cross the 4 percent threshold. On the other side of the political spectrum, the Left Party has traditionally called for a referendum on Sweden’s EU membership, but it could drop this issue in 2019 to avoid any association with the Sweden Democrats.


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