The website, EU Observer, reports on the findings of UK-based think tank Counterpoint on the likely outcome of next year’s European elections.
Counterpoint, whose report was published yesterday, suggest that the May 2014 European elections will lead to an increase in the number of far-right MEPs but that they are likely to remain “ostracised” within the European parliament.
The study notes that far-right MEPs are only loosely connected and that this trend is set to continue. Of the 754 MEPs from the 27 member states in the European parliament, less than 60 are from what the report terms “populist radical right” parties. However, this number is set to increase with a “number of populist radical right gains” expected in the elections next year.
The report argues that although the number of far-right MEPs is set to increase considerably this will increase their power or influence in parliament and EU decision making. The report findings suggest that while far-right parties like to take the floor to promote their own nationalist agenda, they are less keen to engage when it comes to “substantive” policy making.
This “fundamental conflict” in the far-right’s approach to the EU means it struggles to make any progress in the European parliament. While MEPs representing far right groups enjoy the recognition that comes with having a seat in parliament they dislike the EU and its “machinery” thereby weakening their contribution to debate and policymaking.
The report notes, “When compared to the other political groups, its [Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EDF)] MEPs participate less often, write fewer reports and opinions, and are less successful at pushing through amendments and winning votes”.
Although many far-right groups such as the British National Party, the Dutch PVV, the Belgian Vlaams Belang and the Austrian FPO, take an anti-consensus approach to a number of policy areas including, immigration, gender-equality and minority rights, they do not like to associate with each other, further weakening their influence.
The report highlights one peculiarity, which “may become more important” in the next parliament and that is the similarity in voting patterns of far-left and far-right groups. The report notes that the far left and far right vote the same way on economic policy issues, albeit for different reasons. Overall, Counterpoint believe that the far-right “still may well have little influence over the policy-making process” in the next parliament.
Counterpoint’s report, Conflicted Politicians, can be read here.