02 Mar, 2019

Liberal parties to make gains in elections as voters seek alternatives to status quo

The EPP-PES status quo in the European Parliament has failed. The rise of the Right is real and is a direct result of the failure of the mainstream parties, but Euroscepticism remains in the minority, migration is not the issue of most importance to citizens and an overwhelming majority think the EU has been mostly a good think for their countries. 

These are some of the conclusions of a survey conducted by ClearPath Strategies, on behalf of the ALDE Party, across the EU27. The survey included 27,200 interviews collected during January-March 2019 across all 27 countries in the EU27 using a variety of methodologies and local partners.[1] The survey also shows the Centre-right Christian Democratic parties and Centre-left Social Democratic parties are poised to lose about a quarter of their MEPs, with Right Wing populist forces likely to gain, and the Liberals increasing their presence in the next European Parliament.

Jacob Moroza-Rasmussen, Secretary General of the ALDE Party, said: “the EU has a great deal to offer and has done much to improve the quality of life in Europe, but the EPP-PES status quo has failed to keep up with and tackle the challenges of a modern Europe.

The gradual collapse of the status quo parties has led Europeans to seek alternatives. And while many have found a voice among the extremist nationalists, an overwhelming majority rejects their vision. An even larger majority just wishes for a Europe that works for them.

It is to this majority that Liberals speak as we offer an alternative course—both to the failure of the mainstream parties and the extremist nationalists who seek to throw away the freedoms and prosperity we have secured with a strong Europe.

The vacuum of power their decline will cause in the next European Parliament can be filled by Liberals. We have the Team for Europe and a firm vision of a reformed Europe to make it happen.

Summary of findings: 

The survey shows that the rise of the Right Wing will result in a gain more than 50 MEPs. But this is only a symptom of the larger story—the collapse of the status quo parties. The Centre-right Christian Democratic parties and Centre-left Social Democratic parties are poised to lose about 100 MEPs, creating a vacuum of power. Not only is the Right stepping in, the Liberals are doing so as well. Liberal and other new like-minded forces stand to gain dozens of MEPs in the May elections. 

The rise of the Right is real and is a direct result of the failure of the mainstream parties. A majority of Europeans (56%) feel Europe is heading in the wrong direction. [Slides 2 & 3] The overall mood is frustrated (40%), anxious (38%), and angry (26%). [Slides 4 & 5]. 

But the story is more complicated. Rather than an unstoppable force, the survey reveals Euroscepticism remains a minority view. In fact, our survey finds that an overwhelming majority (64%) think the EU has been mostly a good think for their countries. [Slides 6 & 7]. 
Even more telling, a majority of Europeans want a strong EU [Slides 8 & 9]. 

Migration, the bogeyman of the extremist nationalist parties, is definitely part of the story. But it is more complicated than the black-and-white narrative presented by the Right. On the list of “most important issues,” migration comes in 5thwith only 26% putting it in their top 3. [Slide 10]. Only 16% of people say they are personally threatened “a lot” by immigrants. [Slide 11]

Europeansdo support rational, pragmatic laws to cope with migration. A majority (66%) support border controls, and a comparable majority (65%) support modern immigration laws. [Slide 12] 

But this is hardly a carte blanche for the extremist nationalists. Even as their support grows, so does the mainstream hostility toward those parties. A strong majority (69%) thinks the EU needs to do more to fight the extremist nationalists [Slide 13]. 
And on the list of ‘worst things about the EU’, the inability to control extremists comes in third. [Slide 14]

On the other hand, the best things about the EU—freedom to travel, freedom to study and work anywhere in the EU—are the very things threatened by the kinds of policies the extremist nationalists and Eurosceptics want to push through. [Slide 15] 
For its part, Brexit is exceedingly unpopular across the entire continent, a thorough rejection of this approach. [Slide 16]

The gradual collapse of the status quo parties has led Europeans to seek alternatives. And while many have found a voice among the extremist nationalists, an overwhelming majority rejects their vision. A majority of Europeans remain dissatisfied with Europe, yes, but an even larger majority desires a Europe that works. And it is to this majority that Liberals speak as we offer an alternative course—both to the failure of the mainstream parties and the extremist nationalists who seek to throw away the freedoms and prosperity we have secured with a strong Europe. 

[1] For detailed methodology, contact ALDE Party’s Philipp Hansen phansen@aldeparty.eu

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