Wednesday

13th Dec 2017

Focus

Far-left set for big gains in European Parliament elections

  • Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said to have his eyes on the premiership (Photo: Asteris Masouras)

Europe's far-left is set to almost double its deputies in the upcoming European Parliament elections in May.

Poll predictions indicate that the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group is set to become the parliament's third or fourth largest group, with the number of deputies rising from the current 35 to around 60.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

At third place, it would replace the liberals (ALDE), behind the centre-left S&D and centre-right EPP.

Among the far-left hopefuls are candidates from Italy, Greece and France.

Italy currently has no far-left deputies at the assembly but is set to make large inroads. In Greece, the far-left is leading in the polls while in France, leftist politicians are set to capitalise on the governing socialists unpopularity.

The parties are against what they describe as neo-liberal policy-making at the EU level, want more funding for social programmes, and want to create what they describe as "another Europe".

The Italians want a referendum to cancel the fiscal compact that sets out debt and deficit ceilings. Greece's Syriza has also targeted the country's €240 billion of bailout loans while French leftists focus on issues such as raising the minimum wage.

But while the French far left are mired in internal disputes and have yet to come up with a list of euro candidates, the Italians have already published their own so-called Tsipras List.

The list is named after Greek opposition leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza), Alexis Tsipras.

Fabio Amato, a co-founder of the European Left in Italy and one of more than 70 candidates on the Tsipras List, said people have had enough of "neo-liberal" polices and austerity.

"What we have seen in all southern Europe is a huge attack against social, civil and democratic rights of the people," he told this website.

The parliament's group currently has no Italian members.

But pan-EU opinion pollsters PollWatch suggest Italy may send at least four to the Brussels' assembly.

Italy has around four far-left parties and each is too small, on their own, to breach the 4 percent threshold. They also do not get along.

Despite their differences, they have agreed to back the Tsipras List, increasing the overall chances of sending a handful of deputies to Brussels.

The plan is to create an alliance between countries of the south to counter what Fabio Amato describes as a political hegemony created by Germany and the EU.

No one on the Tsipras List has had any experience in the Italian parliament in the past ten years. This is deliberate, noted Amato.

“We decided to have new people but people who are involved in the European question and in the social movement,” he said.

But Amato's far-left alliance plan may be stymied by Alexis Tsipras himself.

Greece's Tsipras plays different tune at home than abroad

In the 2012 Greek national elections Syriza's message to cancel the bailout imposed by the troika of international lenders resonated with some 27 percent of the electorate.

At home the message remains the same but abroad Tsipras is talking a different tune.

"In Greece, it [Syriza] is condemning the bailout for obvious political reasons but in Europe it is 'more friendly' towards the European economic policy," said George Tzogopoulos, a research follow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP).

He noted that the party, in relation to European policy, would now be prepared to negotiate and possibly even apply the same bailout terms that it openly condemns at home.

In the meantime, Tsipras is trying to distance himself from the far-left parties throughout the EU because he may become the next prime minister, says Tzogopoulos.

"He is trying as much as he can to internationalise the policies of his party and not to engage with the popular European parties as he used to do in the past," said Tzogopoulos.

At 19 percent, Syriza has a two-percent lead in the polls on the centre-right New Democracy.

Syriza has yet to publish its list of euro-deputy candidates but PollWatch predicts the GUE/NGL group is set to gain eight Greek MEPs, up from the current three.

Greece's more fringe far-left parties like the communists are unlikely to muster more than 4 or 5 percent of the votes.

Some Syriza voters may also see a better alternative with To Potami (The River), a new party created about a month ago by former TV presenter Stavros Theodorakis.

The River's populist message targets the political elite and its establishment. It wants to replace the Greek political class with new faces.

Theodorakis has not put forward any other agenda but the party is still polling at 10 percent, on par with the neo-nazi Golden Dawn, and ahead of the centre-left Pasok.

Internal disputes among French far-left

In France, internal disputes among the far-left are creating divisions.

The Left Front, France's election coalition for the European elections, is composed of five members.

The two largest parties are at loggerheads on party platform differences and on an on-going dispute over municipal elections in Paris.

This means the group has yet to put forward a list of candidates to the European parliament elections.

The French Communist Party (PCF) is the largest and oldest.

Second from the top is the Left Party, headed by French MEP Jean-Luc Melenchon, who received some 4 million votes in the last presidential elections.

Euro-deputy candidate names should start appearing after the first round of the Paris elections on Sunday (23 March).

A complete list is set for publication after the second round a week later.

France has five MEPs in the GUE/NGL group but is set to gain an extra three, according to the last polls.

European 'United Left' searches for unity

Among the newly-elected leftist MEPs, one person in particular is attracting attention, Italy’s Barbara Spinelli, the daughter of Altiero Spinelli.

EUobserved

When two worlds collide

Two worlds collided at the end of last week. The shrill, uncompromising one of British politics and the technocratic, dry, world of the European Commission.

EUobserved

Schadenfreude and fire-walking in the EP

There was outright glee in the EP on Thursday. It was time to dust off everyone’s favourite German word for pleasure in the misfortune of others.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Pro-Kremlin trolls targeted Scottish referendum
  2. MEPs vote to allow phosphate additives in kebabs
  3. Babis government sworn in in Czech Republic
  4. Russia looks to crypto-currencies to evade EU sanctions
  5. Juncker embroiled in Luxembourg wire-tapping trial
  6. Kurz close to forming new Austrian right-wing government
  7. Ministers reach deal on fish quotas but overfishing continues
  8. UK parliament to vote on right to veto final Brexit deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  2. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  3. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  4. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  7. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  8. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  9. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  10. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties
  11. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  12. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe

Latest News

  1. Tusk migration note prompts institutional 'hysteria'
  2. Migration looms over summit, as Africa pledges fall short
  3. Brits in EU-27 are uncertain, alone and far from protected
  4. 2018 fishing quotas agreed - but Brexit muddies waters
  5. Medical HQ to spearhead EU military push
  6. Facebook to shift ad revenue away from Ireland
  7. EU renews glyphosate approval, pledges transparency
  8. Romania searching for EU respectability

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  2. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  3. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  4. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  5. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  6. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  7. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  8. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  9. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  10. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives
  11. EPSU-Eurelectric-IndustriAllElectricity European Social Partners Stand up for Just Energy Transition
  12. European Friends of ArmeniaSignature of CEPA Marks a Fresh Start for EU-Armenia Relations