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Friday, 10.31.2014

Pro-autonomy, pro-sovereignty parties of stateless nations, national minorities surge in EU election

26/05/2014

REPORT. New European Parliament to have more MEPs belonging to pro-autonomy and pro-independence parties of stateless nations and national minorities, after this 2014 election. Growth in Spain and Belgium accounts for much of this gain.

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The Kingdom of Spain is the European country where most MEPs beloning to sovereignist parties were yesterday elected. Three of them belong to the Coalition for Europe (Catalonia's CDC Ramon Tremosa and UDC Francis Gambús, and Basque Country's EAJ-PNV Izaskun Bilbao), while two of them were elected under the Catalan ERC-NECat coalition (Josep Maria Terricabras and Ernest Maragall). Besides, one MEP for each one of the following parties were also elected: Initiative for Catalonia, Galicia's Anova (Ernest Urtasun and Lidia Senra, both running within a coalition led by Spanish United Left), Valencian Country's Compromís (Jordi Sebastià) and The Peoples Decide (LPD, a coalition led by Basque Country's EH Bildu and Galicia's BNG, who will share the European seat according to the share of vote each one got yesterday). Therefore, 9 pro-sovereignty MEPs were yesterday elected, out of a total of 54 Spanish MEPs. This compared to 5 pro-sovereignty MEPs in 2009. According to initial statements by parties, MEPs belonging to ERC-NECat, LPD and Compromís will adhere the European Free Alliance (EFA) group, while CDC and EAJ-PNV are set to join the liberal group (ALDE). ICV should join the Green group, UDC the European People's Part (EPP), and Anova the European United Left.

In the French Republic, no MEP belonging to pro-autonomy or pro-sovereignty parties was elected, after Party of the Corsican Nation's François Alfonsi was unable to retain his seat, despite having secured 21.5% of the votes in Corsica. Alfonsi had virtually no change to get the seat, as his party was not again running in coalition with Europe Ecology, with which he had succeeded in entering the European Parliament in 2009. Remarkable results were obtained by the Breton nationalists (9% of the vote in Brittany Region, out of which 7% to the list headed by Christian Troadec and 2% for the Breton Democratic Union, UDB) and by the Basque nationalist EAJ-PNV list (7.2% in the Northern Basque Country).

Seats have not yet been distributed in the Italian Republic, but the vote percentage is already known. The Northern League* (bringing together pro-independence and regionalist sectors in the north of Italy, who show diverse and complex national loyalties) lost ground across northern Italy, although it managed to secure 11.7% of the votes in the North-West constituency (Aosta, Liguria, Lombardy and Piedmont) and 13% the North-East constituency (Veneto, Trentino-South Tyrol, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Emilia-Romagna). Specifically in South Tyrol, the South Tyrolean People's Party (SVP, pro-autonomy centre-right) was again the strongest party there (48% of the votes), and the coalition made up of the secessionist Libertarians and the Northern League got 6% of the votes. It is expected that the Northern League will secure 5 MEPs, while the SVP will get 1.

In the United Kingdom, Plaid Cymru held the seat the party had won in 2009 (Jill Evans, 15.3% of the vote in Wales, fourth strongest party), while the SNP is set to retain the two seats it secured five years ago (Ian Hudghton and Alyn Smith, 28.9% of the vote in Scotland, strongest party). The SNP hoped to get 3 MEPs, but the emergence of the UK Independence Party (UKIP, 10 % of the vote in Scotland) has prevented the pro-independence party to do so. In Northern Ireland counting is still going on, but it is likely that Sinn Féin gets one of three Northern Irish seats. The other two will be held by unionist parties. Plaid and SNP MEPs will join the EFA group, while the Sinn Féin is set to join the European United Left.

There are significant changes in the Kingdom of Belgium, where Flemish pro-independence New Flemish Alliance (N-VA ) achieved 26.7% of the votes in the Dutch-speaking constituency, and four MEPs (Johan Van Overtveldt, Helga Stevens, Mark Demesmaeker and Louis Ide). In 2009, the N-VA got one MEP. Far right, pro-independence Vlaams Belang got one MEP elected (Gerolf Annemans), down from two in 2009. Furthermore, seven pro-federalism Flemish MEPs were yesterday elected: three Liberals (Open VLD: Guy Verhofstadt, Annemie Neyts and Karel De Gucht), two Christian Democrats (CD&V: Marianne Thyssen and Ivo Belet), one Socialist (SPA: Kathleen Van Brempt ) and one Green (Groen: Bart Staes). Moreover, the European seat set aside for Belgium's German-speaking community was secured, as usual, by the Christian Social Party (CSP).

In the Federal Republic of Germany, the abolition of the 3% electoral threshold has not been enough for the Party of Bavaria (Bayernpartei, BP) to secure its first-ever MEP. With only 62,000 votes, the BP has been far from getting the 135,000 votes that the party estimated as needed in order to get a seat.

In the Republic of Bulgaria, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS, affiliated to the European liberal party ALDE), which usually gets much of the vote from the ethnic Turkish community there, secured 3 seats, as it did in 2009. Candidate Delyan Peevski, under heavy criticism in Bulgaria, yesterday announced that he would be resigning even before becoming a MEP.

In Romania, the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) again succeeded in sending representatives to the European Parliament. The UDMR secured two seats, one less than five years ago. They will join the EPP group.

Two parties supported by ethnic Hungarians also got seats in the Slovak Republic. The Party of the Hungarian Community (SMK-MKP) has retained the seat already won in 2009 (Pál Csáky ahs been chosen), while Most-Híd (a party including both ethnic Hungarians and ethnic Slovaks) has also managed to secure one seat (József Nagy). Both MEPs will join the EPP. Turnou in Slovakia has been extremely low (13%).

In the Republic of Latvia, and against all odds, Tatjana Ždanoka secured another term in the European Parliament. Ždanoka was re-elected as the Human Rights in a United Latvia (PCTVL), a party advocating the rights of Russian speakers in Latvia, secured one seat. In the previous term, Ždanoka was a member of the EFA group. Ždanoka has recently been under fire in Latvia, where she has been accused of working for the Kremlin, among other reasons because she supported the independence referendum in Crimea. The interest of Russian speakers are also put forward by the Social Democratic Party Harmony (SDPS), which has also won a seat. The party will likely join the European Socialists group.

In the Republic of Finland, the Swedish People's Party (SFP), which seeks to represent the interests of the Swedish-speaking minority, held the seat that already had won in 2009. Nils Torvalds has been elected as SFP's MEP. The map of his electoral support is virtually the same as the map of the Swedish language in Finland (western and southern coastal areas).

(Update 1). In the Republic of Lithuania, the party of the Polish minority (Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania), running in coalition with the party of the Russian minority (the Russian Alliance), has retained the seat it had won in 2009. Electoral Action leader Waldemar Tomaszewski will continue to be the party's MEP. Up till now, the Electoral Action has been a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists, a rightist group in the European Parliament led by the UK's Conservative Party.

* (Update 2. Clarification: on our Facebook page, Nationalia has received some criticism because the Northern League has been included in this article. Nationalia staff wishes to point out two ideas:

One. Even if the Northern League holds racist or xenophobic views, this can not prevent us from reporting its results. As a news website, our first obligation is to report the facts as they happen. If the Northern League obtains several MEPs, it is our duty to report that, just as we have reported the same fact as regards the Vlaams Belang.

Two. Certainly not all Northern League members are pro-independence (some of them are simply Italian regionalists), and it is also true that not all of them believe that Italy is not their nation. But it is equally true that there are pro-independence members within the party, and that some of them hold that their nation is the Veneto, Lombardy, or other territories. In order to reflect the diversity of approaches to the issue of independence and national identity within the Northern League, we have inserted these words into the article: "The Northern League [ ... ] bring[s] together pro-independence and regionalist sectors in the north of Italy, who show diverse and complex national loyalties".)


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