European elections 2014

‘Is euroscepticism to become the European norm?’

From France to the United Kingdom, from Denmark to Austria and Greece, the election results have been marked by breakthrough for Eurosceptic parties. For the European press the vote amounts to a rejection of European policies that have been implemented thus far.

Published on 26 May 2014 at 13:46

The new Parliament appears more fragmented than the outgoing assembly, with stronger showing by smaller parties, reflecting divisions in European public opinion.

“The European parliament is about to become noisier, more unruly, more confusing and more difficult to deal with as a result of the European elections”, writes Quentin Peel on the Financial Times. The British editorialist believes that —


…a surge in support for populist anti-European parties on the right and the left in countries such as the UK, France and Greece will leave the 751-member assembly without any clear majority on either side of the political spectrum. Weeks of political wrangling look inevitable as the new members struggle to forge alliances with strange bedfellows, and the biggest parties fight for a majority in order to determine who will be the next president of the European Commission. There could be a prolonged deadlock between the parliament and the European Council, where leaders of the 28 member states meet, to decide who will succeed José Manuel Barroso in that position.

Receive the best of European journalism straight to your inbox every Thursday

Whereas PM Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party returned a record score, with more than 40 per cent, in other countries, we have not just seen “the ‘protest vote’ announced by the pollsters, and perhaps not just the ‘salutary shock’ referred to by [former European Commission President Romano] Prodi, but something more”, writes Aldo Cazzullo in Corriere della Sera


…the 2014 elections will be remembered as a historic defeat of a political system, which eclipsed traditional parties and rejected the European establishment. Yesterday's results demonstrate two things. Europe did not give the right answer to the crisis. The entire world responded to industrial and financial collapse with investment and growth policies; only German-led Europe adopted a cuts and austerity policy, which has impoverished every country except Germany. […] The vote has confirmed a trend that extends beyond the continent: the sign of the times is one of revolt against elites, against institutions, and against traditional forms of representation. And Europe is perceived as the foundation and the sponsor of the elites against which we are rebelling.

“A draw for Civic Platform” leads Gazeta Wyborcza, reporting on the European elections in advance of the final results in Poland [which should be known this afternoon]. It is already known though that the two largest parties in the country, the ruling Civic Platform (PO) and the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) both won 19 seats in the new European Parliament. Surprisingly, an anti-establishment and anti European Congress of the New Right (KNP) has also made it to the EP (with 7% support). According to Gazeta, the gains made by populist and far right parties in the elections across the continent may have long term repercussions on the European politics —


Even though radical euroscepticism is unlikely to suddenly disrupt the operation of the EU, it may, unfortunately, become a virus that infects others. Populism and hysteria about “waves of immigrants” and an “omnipotent Brussels” as well as a longing for a strong national state ...could become more popular among other parties, especially if they want to win back eurosceptic electorates.

“Although announced in advance, the victory of the National Front (FN)”, which has become the country’s leading party with 25% of the vote, “is still a shock that will rock France and Europe”, writes Libération. For the French left-wing daily —


… the shock wave created by the FN extends beyond borders. The party’s results, accompanied by the gains made by other europhobic parties in Denmark, Austria and the United Kingdom, amount to a real menace for the European ideal. The virus that has contaminated France for years is threatening to spread to the Union where anger over austerity policies is less vocal, but where fear of foreigners continues to grow. The only hope to counter this evil is that democratic parties will have the capacity to speak to peoples who have lost faith in democracy.

For Die Tageszeitung, [[“the euro crisis” is well and truly responsible for the rise of populism in Europe]]. The newspaper adds that, results posted by Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), which won seven seats in the European Parliament are remarkable. Launched in 2013, the eurosceptic party made an extraordinary show of strength, while most other parties lost voters. The far right NPD also obtained a seat in the European Parliament. According to TAZ, the success of the AfD is symbolic of the transformation of liberal circles. In Germany, there are —


… those who earn more than others, who are weary of the multicultural republic and who have no desire to pay for Greek ‘layabouts’. […] It would however be naive to believe that the AfD will run itself into the ground. Its success should rather be considered to be a sort of European normalisation. In Austria and the Netherlands, right wing populist parties have been replacing liberal parties for years. Could it be that euroscepticism is to become [the new] European norm?”

“Major upturn for Danish People’s Party”, headlines Berglinske, which reports that the populist right-wing party won 25% of the vote, more than any other in the country. Nonetheless, the Danish daily casts doubt on the real power of eurosceptic parties in the European Parliament —


… in spite of their great progress, the gains made by eurosceptic parties will necessarily be hugely significant in electoral terms. The question is: can the pro-European majority ignore the new upsurge in euroscepticism in Europe? Marine Le Pen said that she will destroy the EU from within. But despite the National Front 's triumph, it remains to be seen whether Le Pen will be able to gather enough countries to form a voting bloc in the new Parliament.

In the wake of European elections, Eleftherotypia headlines “SYRIZA for the first time!”. The radical left coalition led by Alexis Tsipras won 27.6% overtaking Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’, New Democracy (ND), which polled 22,8 per cent. For the daily this is without contest a major defeat for the ruling (ND-socialist) coalition, which has experienced an 11-point decline in support since 2012, [”but has yet to get the message”]. The newspaper also remarks on strong showing by the Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, which polled 9.39 per cent —

The elections have been sullied by the third place won by Golden Dawn, in a context of an upsurge in support for eurosceptics and the far right everywhere in Europe.


Was this article useful? If so we are delighted!

It is freely available because we believe that the right to free and independent information is essential for democracy. But this right is not guaranteed forever, and independence comes at a cost. We need your support in order to continue publishing independent, multilingual news for all Europeans.

Discover our subscription offers and their exclusive benefits and become a member of our community now!

Are you a news organisation, a business, an association or a foundation? Check out our bespoke editorial and translation services.

Support independent European journalism

European democracy needs independent media. Join our community!

On the same topic