Bavaria, Yorkshire, Occitania parties try to raise unheard voices in European Parliament

Bavaria Party sees options to get European seat after Constitutional Court abolished 3% threshold · Pro-autonomy movement in England's north launches Yorkshire First party · PNO runs pro-Occitan list, says a new federal, peoples' Europe should be created

When talking about parties of stateless nations with real opportunities to make it into the European Paliament, parties from Catalonia, Galicia, Scotland, Flanders, Wales or the Basque Country are usually quoted. In the 2014, however, parties who that have not been successful in last elections, or that are newly created, are also running. Among a large group of such lists, we have chosen three.

Bavaria Party: the possibility of getting a European seat for the first time

This is a different election for the Bavaria Party (Bayernpartei, BP), which for the first time sees real chance to make it into the European Parliament. This is because the German Constitutional Court has abolished the 3% votes threshold at the state level needed to secure seats, which was in force until now. No threshold has been put in place this time.

Based on data from the 2009 European election, BP estimates that approximately 135,000 votes (anywhere in Germany, because there is one single constituency) could be enough to achieve its first European seat. In the most recent election contested by the BP (2013 Bavarian legislative election), the party got 247,000 votes. However, surveys published so far are not that optimistic about BP options, and do not foresee any seats for the Bavarian pro-independence party.

If anyway the BP managed to get a seat, it would be the first time since 1962 that the party would make it into any legislative chamber. Its leading candidate Florian Weber says EU should cease to be a state-dominated organization and should become a European regions, citizens-dominated body. Weber insists that Bavaria has been historically a free country, and that Bavaria could gain more weight in Brussels if it had its own, direct representation there (by way of having more MEPs).

Yorkshire First: autonomy in England's north

The European election is the electoral competition chosen by Yorkshire First for its launching. The main proposal of this newly established party is devolution to Yorkshire, i.e. an own parliament with legislative powers within the United Kingdom. It will be difficult for the party to get a seat (about 10% of the vote in the Yorkshire and the Humber constituency, probably more than 100,000 votes, will be needed).

Yorkshire First European top candidate Stewart Arnold argues Yorkshire has "a distinct identity in the same way as Wales, Scotland and London, then it too should have powers to make decisions that are genuinely made in Yorkshire." Pro-autonomy ideas in Yorkshire especially stem from the local perception that UK institutions govern only for southeastern England's benefit, and specifically for London's. The proximity of the Scottish border (where self-government institutions have been in place since 1999) also reinforce the idea that autonomy could also be exported to the northern regions of England.

Occitan Nation Party: message on behalf of stateless nations

The Occitan Nation Party (PNO) will try again to spread a pro-Occitan message through its sponsored list Occitania for a Europe of the Peoples, the only one to be strictly Occitan in this 2014 European election. The party says that "for the stateless nations of Europe, the challenge of this election is to build a federal, decentralized, democratic and social Europe of the Peoples." From this approach, the Occitan list argues that "sovereignist" French parties, leftist of rightist, should be fought against, since they are opposed to this European project and to the recognition of sub-state European languages and nations.

Despite not succeeding in creating a joint list with Occitan and Basque parties, the Occitania for a Europe of the Peoples manifesto includes the recognition by the EU of the three peoples (Occitan, Basque and Catalan) who according the PNO inhabit the lands of France's south-western constituency, the only one one where the list is fielding candidates. The pro-Occitan list insists on the need to democratize European institutions, to strengthen the role of the European Parliament, and to implement policies protecting the environment, fostering local economic development, and improving Occitania's internal and external road and railway links.

Regarding foreign policy, the pro-Occitan candidates say current negotitations between the EU and the USA regarding the establishment of a transatlantic free trade area should be closely monitorized, so that an eventual agreement does not hit the protection of European producers and consumers.

The PNO should not be confused with the Occitan Party, which in this 2014 European election is supporting the list led by environmentalist José Bové.