As the political dust settles after the Euro elections last Sunday, can we claim like the media that the hard right made important gains? How did anti-EU, anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* of Finland fare compared with the previous elections in 2009?
Apart from the UKIP and National Front of France’s impressive election victories, there were some setbacks as well. The most notable of these were the defeat of Geert Wilders Freedom Party (PVV), which gained 16.97% of the vote in 2009 with 4 MEPs but saw its support plummet to 13.2% (4 MEPs). Other big losers were Vlaams Belang of Belgium (4.14%/1 MEP from 10.88%/2 MEPs) and Italy’s Lega Nord (6.15%/5 MEPs from 10.21%/9 MEPs).
See original posting here.
If I were the PS’ chairperson, Timo Soini, I’d be concerned about the poor showing of the party despite the fact that the party got two MEPs elected.
Ever since the impressive victory of the Finnish anti-EU, anti-immigration, homophobic and especially anti-Islam party in the 2011 parliamentary elections, when it raised the number of MPs to 39 from 5 previously, it has been downhill ever since. In all of the elections after 2011, the PS has remained a low-teens party and not been able to match its 2011 election victory (see table below).
While 70% of the EU MEPs elected throughout Europe on Sunday are pro-EU, parties like the PS with MEPs like Jussi Halla-aho are finding out rapidly that the European media has a better memory than the Finnish media.
After bashing migrants and victimizing other minorities in Finland, the PS wants greater respectability by leaving the anti-EU and anti-immigration Europe for Freedom and Democracy (EFD) for the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) bloc. The Financial Times reported this week that the PS’ membership in the ECR would be a liability because of Halla-aho’s sentence for ethnic agitation.
Even if Halla-aho tallied about a third (80,772) of the PS vote, he did so mainly on an anti-immigration message, traveling as far as Lieksa, where a PS councilman demanded a “Somali-free” meeting room, to spread his diatribes against Muslims and cultural diversity.
Taking into account the disappointing results of the PS in the past three elections, the big question is if the party will ratchet up its anti-immigration and anti-Islam rhetoric as the April 2015 parliamentary elections near. If the PS loses half of its half-a-million votes next year, it means that it will send the party back to the minor political leagues.
Of the anti-EU and anti-immigration parties that were clear victors in the EU elections, two emerge: UKIP and the National Front.
The most impressive of the two is Marine Le Pen’s National Front, which won the election with 24.95% (24 MEPs) from 6.3% (3 MEPs) previously. Nigel Farage’s UKIP became the first party since the early twentieth century to beat the Conservatives and Labor in an election. It gained 26.77% (24 MEPs) of the vote versus 16.09% (13 MEPs).
Other anti-immigration parties that did well in the elections were the Danish Folk Party (26.6%/4 MEPs from 14.8%/2 MEPs), Freedom Party of Austria (19.7%/4 MEPs from 14.8%/2 MEPs), Sweden Democrats (9.7%/2 MEPs from 3.27%/-), and neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic parties like the Golden Dawn of Greece (9.38%/3 MEPs), Hungary’s Jobbik (14.68%/3 MEPs from 14.77%/3 MEPs), NPD of Germany (1.00%/1 MEP).
HOPE not hate European Editor Graeme Atkinson put the EU elections in the following words:
So just where is this generalized, much talked-about, media-hyped rise of fascism, rise of right-wing extremism etc [except in France]? Because even with the huge increase in FN [National Front] support, the overall far right vote in the EU grew only by 1.57 million over the 2009 score with an additional country Croatia in the mix. Indeed, apart from in the UK [if we include UKIP], Denmark, Hungary and France, the far right lost votes everywhere and only won 34 seats.
It’s unlikely that the two largest anti-EU and anti-immigration parties in the European parliament, UKIP and the National Front, will form an alliance.
As far as the far right, anti-EU and anti-immigration MEPs are concerned in the new European parliament, they continue to be a small minority but with a louder voice.
* The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The names adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.