The Rise of ‘Outsider’ Parties in the 2014 EU Elections

Henry Jackson Society

The Rise of ‘Outsider’ Parties in the 2014 EU Elections­, the latest report by The Henry Jackson Society, examines 25 ‘outsider’ parties from both ends of the political spectrum in 19 EU member states on track to gain significant representation in the upcoming EU Elections. 

In the wake of the Eurozone crisis and leading up to the 22 – 25 May 2014 elections, this new HJS report provides a timely insight into the surge of traditionally fringe parties in Europe. The report reveals the rising popularity of ‘outsider’ parties – belonging to the furthest-left GUE-NGL bloc, furthest-right EFD bloc and the non-aligned NI bloc – surveying the parties’ positions on key issues and their growing representation in domestic politics.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Populist Parties and Leadership: Parties traditionally in the fringes of European politics are making headway into the mainstream, with 23 parties out of the 25 examined currently represented in their national parliaments. Four traditionally ‘outsider’ parties polled are expected to garner more than a quarter of their respective national vote. Likewise there has been an emergence of celebrity-activist figures in party leadership, with parties such as Bulgaria Without Censorship, Italy’s 5 Star Movement and Greece’s The River displaying anti-establishment sentiments and riding the wave created by their respective celebrity leader’s popularity.
  • EU Integration and NATO: Regardless of political affiliation, unfavourable rhetoric towards the EU and NATO unites many ‘outsider’ parties from both the right and the left, with 19 of the parties examined showing hostility towards the EU and/or NATO. 16 parties are characterised as Eurosceptic, as evidenced in their opposition to the so-called EU democracy deficit or to the EU’s allegedly neo-liberal agenda. 11 parties surveyed prioritised opposition to NATO, with eight of these affiliated to the furthest-left GUE-NGL bloc.
  • Racism and Religious-Hatred: Many parties set to progress in the EU elections have been involved in religious-hatred or racism-related controversies, with a focus on anti-Muslim sentiments emanating from eight parties. Evidence of anti-Semitism, including Holocaust denial or conspiracy theories, has been identified in four parties, including Golden Dawn and Jobbik.
  • Far-Right links: Nine parties have been involved in controversies linked to the far-right or neo-Nazism. Of these, two-thirds have seen party members or associates accused of using neo-Nazi/Nazi salutes or songs.
  • Corruption: Despite the prevalence of anti-corruption platforms, eight parties have been involved in corruption-related controversies, including two that are against corruption.  Bulgaria Without Censorship, which campaigns on anti-corruption issues headed by their flagship policy ‘Operation Clean Hands’, has been hit with allegations of financial misconduct.

Associate Director Douglas Murray of the Henry Jackson Society, said:

“Worryingly, parties across Europe who have consistently held high positions in recent polls, which suggests they are more durable than earlier suspected, have been connected to multiple controversies, ranging from racism, to neo-Nazism, to corruption. Whatever future alliances are made in the European Parliament, and whatever the parties’ capabilities, such an ‘outsider’ groundswell will have considerable political reverberations in the years ahead.”

The Rise of ‘Outsider’ Parties in the 2014 EU Elections is available to download here.

An Executive Summary of the report is available to download here.

An infographic based on the findings of the report is available to download here.


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