Monday, June 08, 2009

Mixed picture for European radical left

Here's the share of the vote received by all of the main parties of the radical left across Europe in the recent EU parliament elections:

Progressive Party of Working People - 34.9% (+7.0), 2/6 seats (±0)

Czech Republic: Communist Party - 14.2% (-6.1) 4/22 seats (-2)

Denmark: Socialist People’s Party - 15.9% (+7.9), 2/13 seats (+1)
People’s Movement Against the EU - 7.2% (+2.0), 1/13 seats (±0)

Finland: Left Alliance - 5.9% (-3.2), 0/13 seats (-1)

France: Left Front (includes PCF) - 6.3% (+0.4), 5/72 seats (+2)
New Anticapitalist Party - 4.8% (+2.6), 0/72 seats (±0)

Germany: The Left - 7.6% (+1.5), 8/99 seats (+1)

Greece: Communist Party - 8.3% (-1.1%), 2/22 seats (-1)
Coalition of the Radical Left - 4.7% (+0.5), 1/22 seats (±0)

Ireland: Sinn Féin - 11.2% (+0.1), 0/12 seats (-1)
Socialist Party - 2.8% (+1.5), 1/12 seats (+1)

Italy: Refounded Communists/Italian Communists - 3.3% (-5.1%), 0/72 seats (-7)
Left and Freedom - 3.2% (+0.7%), 0/72 seats (-2) compared to Greens last time

Luxembourg: The Left - 3.2% (+1.5), 0/6 seats (±0)

Netherlands: Green Left - 8.9% (+1.5), 3/25 seats (+1)
Socialist Party - 7.1% (+0.1), 2/25 seats (±0)

Portugal: Left Bloc - 10.7% (+5.8%), 3/22 seats (+2)
Communist Party/Green Party - 10.7% (+1.6), 2/22 seats (±0)

Scotland: Scottish Socialist Party - 0.9% (-4.3%), 0/6 seats (±0)

United Left/United & Alternative Left/Catalan Greens - 3.7% (-1.0), 2/50 seats (±0)
Republican Left of Catalonia/Galician Nationalist Bloc/Basque Solidarity/Aralar - 2.5% (+0.1), 1/50 seats (±0)

Sweden: Left Party - 5.6% (-7.1%), 1/18 seats (-1)
Feminist Initiative - 2.2% (+2.2), 0/18 seats (±0)

Overall then an advance compared to last time in Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Portugal - although in Germany and France the left will be disappointed not to have achieved anything like as much as some recent polls had predicted and the Dutch Socialists are down considerably on the 17% they received in the last national election. The biggest success stories are Denmark and Portugal where the Socialist People's Party and Left Bloc have made huge gains respectively. The differences between both parties are quite stark though with the Socialist People's Party having abandoned much of their radical roots in recent years and instead focussed on cooperation with the Social Democrats and Radical Liberals.

The left meanwhile has less reason to be cheerful in the Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Italy, Scotland, Spain and Sweden. In Italy especially the defeat is crushing with a loss of all 9 of the MEPs the radical left won last time. However a combined share of 6.7% is nevertheless an improvement on the 3.1% received by the now defunct Left Rainbow coalition in last year's national election. Since then the Refounded Communists have split with the reformist wing breaking off and forming the new Left and Freedom coalition together with Greens and radical Social Democrats. Both received just over 3% which is under the new threshold of 4% required for representation. Further north in Sweden and Finland the left parties also went back considerably and each lost a seat. The Swedish Left Party did do unusually well last time and their result yesterday is roughly the same as what they got in the 2006 parliamentary election. In addition the newly formed Pirate Party has won strong support among young people and has, as a result, undoubtedly dented the Left Party's support.

Here in Scotland the SSP has lost more than 80% of its support compared to last time and while 0.9% is an increase on the 0.6% we received for the Scottish Parliament in 2007 it's hardly anything to celebrate when you get beaten by Nazis and Christian fundamentalists and receive the same vote as an independent who noone's ever heard of. The party's resources are extremely limited and while some people (like myself) could perhaps have done more to help the campaign I really don't think there's anything that would have made too much of a difference. I'd like to be optimistic about the future of the left in Scotland but at the moment we just don't seem to have the political culture to support a proper multiparty system or the sort of popular engagement in politics which is required to get people thinking about issues and ideology rather than about a politician's personality and charisma (which is in turn dependent on them being able to win coverage from the capitalist media).