Posts in "France" Category — Page 2

Social media and the elections – did it have an impact?

Election night turnoutBefore the European Parliament elections social media was trumpeted as a key method to increase turnout, attract support and build interest (especially among the European political parties). Two weeks on from the elections, we can ask the question – did it have an impact?

Social media offers politicians and voters an unparalleled level of direct access to each other. The former use it in the hope of mobilising support – although whether it attracts new support is a moot point (many people follow people with whose views they already identify). Fortunately, social media also produces large amounts of data that allow us to study its impact in greater detail.

We’ll focus on turnout. Decades of declining voter turnout was brought to an end (albeit marginally). But did social media have an impact?

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Who’s going where? Tracking the musical chairs in the European Parliament

[infopane color=”5″ icon=”0049.png”]Please note that since the constitutive session of the European Parliament on 1 July 2014, this page is no longer being updated.[/infopane]
EPP S&D ALDE G/EFA ECR EFDD GUE/NGL NI
221 191 67 50 70 48 52 52
27 countries 28 countries 21 countries 17 countries 15 countries 7 countries 14 countries 10 countries
The 2014 European elections brought 34 new parties or independent candidates to the European Parliament.

Now, many of those new MEPs are seeking to join political groups to strengthen their voice in the Parliament, while a battle goes on between the groups to attract new members that help ensure their survival and maximise their influence, speaking time and funding.

One new group – the European Alliance for Freedom – has also been mooted as a way to bring together anti-EU parties on the radical right. To form this and other groups, a minimum of 25 MEPs are needed, representing at least seven member states.

At the same time, other parties are considering changing groups or allying themselves to a group for the first time.

Take a look at our table listing the parties up for grabs, based on the vast array of information from intelligence we have gathered and media reports – and contribute via the button below or the comments box at the bottom of the page.

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Elections round-up: EPP loses but stays as biggest group, while anti-EU parties surge

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Europe’s voters have backed a vast array of anti-EU and anti-establishment voters in the 2014 European Parliament elections, sending fewer MEPs from each of the main political groups back to Brussels and Strasbourg.

Despite being the biggest loser of the night in terms of seats, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) looks like emerging as the biggest party in the European Parliament with its support holding up in Germany and Poland among the larger member states, and good support across central and Eastern Europe. The Socialists are also set to lose a handful of seats, with the Liberals likely to lose around 20 seats according to the latest projections.

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Addressing the challenge to sexual and reproductive rights

Vicky Claeys, Regional Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s European Network, writes about the importance of the European elections for her organisation and its ‘I Decide’ campaign:

For many years, Europe has played a leading role in international discussions on development and human rights.

But now it is at a crossroads when it comes to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). On the eve of the European Parliament elections, it is unclear whether Europe will remain a progressive force on issues relating to sexuality education, gay rights and access to safe abortion, or whether it will be blown off course by a wave of conservative hostility towards people’s freedom to make their own life choices.

SRHR have come under attack during the outgoing legislature by vocal anti-choice minorities. But this parliament’s legacy should, be one of consistent support for SRHR. The European elections and the changes in the European Commission will be enormously important in setting the political tone for the next five years, and the newcomers must continue to play a strong leadership role on SRHR and gender equality. The likely influx of Eurosceptics and far-right MEPs makes the landscape challenging.

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A full plate: what will food policy look like after the elections?

Harvesting cornThe regulation of food and agriculture is one the most easily-identifiable impacts of the European Union on people across the continent and the world.

Some of the most famous (or infamous) food-related news stories of recent years (mad cow disease, the horsemeat scandal) have required action at a European level. The EU has also been active in regulating the marketing and labelling of food, aiming to serve the twin interests of consumer protection and better health.

This stuff matters – to consumers, and to business, too. The agri-food industry is an significant contributor to the EU economy (and indeed, European identity). It employs 4.5 million people, generating more than €1bn in annual turnover and is a large investor in research and development. Companies operating in the sector include thousands of European small and medium-sized enterprises.

For the past ten years or more, the agri-food industry has been the focus of a large amount of legislation and regulation, including controversial reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP), on which the jury is still out. But there is likely to be little respite: many challenges and opportunities lie ahead over the next five years for this pillar of the European economy – and for those who will inherit the job of regulating it.

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The populist challenge and the mainstream response

Marley Morris of Counterpoint, a UK-based research group that focuses on cultural and social dynamics underpinning politics, economics and security, writes on the prospect of an increase in populist voices at the European elections:

The European Parliament elections contain a strange contradiction.

The next parliament, thanks to the Lisbon Treaty, will have more power than any of its predecessors. It will be able to elect the President of the European Commission for the first time. Vast areas of vital policy – not least the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – are at stake. And as the first pan-European elections since the worst moments of the eurozone crisis, the results will be analysed as a crucial gauge of public opinion.

Euranet Plus interview - Guest of the Week with MEP Marine LE PENAnd yet there is still a long way to go to making the European Parliament elections comparable in status to national polls. Eurobarometer tells us that only 54 per cent of European Union citizens are aware that the European Parliament is directly elected.

Efforts by the mainstream European-level parties to tout their ‘lead candidates’ seem to have had limited success, with many voters unaware of the contest, and numerous commentators suspecting that the next Commission president may well be someone else entirely.

A populist surge?

Ten days from the elections, the expectation is that apathy will translate into success for Eurosceptics and populists at the polls.

Marine Le Pen (right), the leader of France’s populist radical right National Front (FN) party, and Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam and Eurosceptic Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands, pledged last year to join forces. They plan to form a political group with like-minded parties in the new Parliament. Wilders has said of the proposed alliance: “We will have an enormous influence… We are working on a historical project.”

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The first head-to-head: much ado about very little

EP President meets Jean-Claude Juncker

A little bit of European political history was made yesterday, with the first televised head-to-head debate between candidates for the European Commission presidency.

The first debate between Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz – the lead candidates for the European People’s Party and the Party of European Socialists – took place in Brussels and was broadcast live on France 24, with a replay later that evening on Radio France International.

It is the first in a series of debates between the lead candidates (see panel) – and there is definitely scope for improvement if the candidates – and broadcasters – truly want to engage people in the discussion on Europe’s future leadership.
[infopane color=”6″ icon=”0869.png”]Next live TV debates

Juncker v Schulz
8 May at 20:15 CET – broadcast on ÖRF (Austria) and ZDF (Germany), in German
20 May at 21:00 CET – broadcast on ARD (Germany), in German

Open to all candidates (note: Alexis Tsipras not confirmed for 28 April and 9 May)
28 April at 19:00 CET – broadcast on Euronews
9 May at 18:30 CET – broadcast on Rai (Italy)
15 May at 21:00 CET – organised by the EBU – national coverage may vary[/infopane]

My overall view on the France 24 / RFI debate is that it that it was rather dull in format and content – everyone was playing things a bit safe. It’s natural for a first debate, but if the candidates and broadcasters want to engage voters, there needs to be more dynamism.

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Italy’s Commission nominee: recycling à la Renzi

Matteo_Renzi_crop_new

When it comes to this year’s European Parliament elections, Italy is lagging behind.

So far, none of the major parties have announced their full lists for the election, and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (pictured right) is yet to put forward a nominee to be a European commissioner.

The reason for these delays is the high level of uncertainty on the Italian political scene. Renzi won the leadership of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) in December; two months later he ousted Enrico Letta to take control of a reshuffled government.

The centre-right has fragmented, with ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia re-emerging and the New Centre-Right being established. Beppe Grillo’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) has sown further confusion with its unpredictable policies and personalities.

It is in this political climate that Renzi will need to consider potential candidates for Italy’s nomination to the European Commission.

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50 days to go, 50 things to know about Europe’s year of change

The countdown continues: at 08:00 CET on Wednesday 2 April, there are exactly 50 days to go to the opening of the polls for the European Parliament elections.

Here is our overview of where we stand and what you need to know about Europe’s year of change:

Top jobs | Country-by-country | PollWatch 2014 | The elections and beyond | Reading list

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From local to European elections: more or less Wilders?

“Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!”

Supporters of Geert WildersParty for Freedom (PVV) made their views clear when, as the Dutch local election results filtered through last Wednesday, their leader asked them whether they want more or fewer Moroccans in the country.

“Good, we’ll arrange that”, promised Wilders. But what the PVV leader has actually seen since is fewer of his own elected representatives willing to stand by him following this controversial episode.

Laurence Stassen, the PVV delegation leader in the European Parliament, announced on Friday that she is leaving the party and will see out her term as an independent MEP (she is also giving up her seat in the provincial council of Limburg). Lucas Hartong takes over from Stassen as delegation leader but his tenure will be short-lived, as he will not be a candidate in the European Parliament election in May.

Other PVV politicians in the Netherlands are quitting the Wilders camp one by one. Daniël ter Haar, a provincial council member, recently joined the growing band of senior party members who disowned Wilders’ rabble-rousing. Meanwhile – as predicted by the PVV leader – the police have received many official complaints about use of discriminatory language.

The turbulence in the PVV has overshadowed the success in the municipal elections for many local parties (notably in Rotterdam) as well as the left-wing Socialist Party (SP), and the progressive liberal Democrats 66 (D66) party.

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