Introducing the European Parliament’s Parties
Do you know who to vote for, or what do the European parties stand for? If your answer is “no”, this article will serve as a guide to the political groups of the Parliament. Once the elections roll around at the 23rd to 26th May, you will cast a vote for your national party of choice which will then gain seats for their respective European group. Note that every party also nominates a “Spitzenkandidat”; a candidate that the respective party wants to see become the future European Commission President.
First, we have the Party of European Socialists (PES), a political group within the EP which is part of the wider Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats party (S&D). The social-democratic political party comprised of national level parties like the Italian Democratic Socialists, the British Labour Party, the French Socialist Party, the Social Democratic Party of Germany, the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party, etc. PES is a centre-left party which advocates for tax transparency, an economy based on renewable sources, but also the implementation of the European Youth Plan, in order to help young people with employment and education. The lead candidate (Spitzenkandidat) is Dutch politician Frans Timmermans and guess where he is from; our lovely Maastricht of course
If you want to know more about their policies, click here.
Then we have the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) which is a liberal centrist political group comprised of two transnational European parties: The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats of Europe Party and the European Democratic Party. It is a pro-European group advocating for free market economics, gender equality as well as LGBTI rights, but also liberal democracy. ALDE nominated a team of seven lead candidates; Nicola Beer (Germany), Emma Bonino (Italy), Violeta Bulc (Slovenia), Katalin Cseh (Hungary), Luis Garicano (Spain), Guy Verhofstadt (Belgium) and Margrethe Vestager (Denmark). Vestager is seen by some analysts as Brussel’s most-favored future Commission President.
If you want to know more about their values, click here.
One of the most well-known groups in the European Parliament must be the European People’s Party (EPP) which is comprised of Christian democratic and conservative politicians. It was the winning group of the last elections with 221 seats opposite to 191 of S&D. The EPP consists mainly of center-right parties such as the Union in Germany, The Republicans of France and New Democracy of Greece. The EPP advocates for respect for traditions and associations, environmental issues, pluralist democracy and a social market economy (otherwise known as Rhine capitalism). Its priorities include the completion of the European Single Market and the European Neighborhood Policy. The lead candidate for the EPP is German politician Manfred Weber.
For more information about their policies, click here.
Moving on, we have the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, which is a Eurosceptic and anti-federalist group, sometimes considered center-right to right-wing. It is part of the wider Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) and it consists of parties such as the British Conservative Party, and the Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS). ECR strives for free enterprise and free trade, sustainable clean energy, strong family images as well as the sovereign integrity of the nation state and effectively controlled immigration. The nominated candidate for the EPP is Czech politician Jan Zahradil.
For more information on their values, click here.
Another group is the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) which is comprised of socialist and communist parties. Namely, Syriza in Greece, the Northern Irish Sinn Féin, Podemos of Spain, the French Left Front and The Left of Germany. Although committed to European integration, the group opposes the current political structure of the EU and wants to disband NATO and, instead, strengthen the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Some of the parties have positioned themselves against the Maastricht Treaty which was signed in 1992 in order to further European integration and created the European Union. The group has nominated Slovenian politician Violeta Tomič and Belgian politician Nico Cué.
If you want to learn more about the group, click here.
Next we have the European Green Party (EGP), or European Greens for some, which is a conglomeration of political parties which support green politics. Some of these parties are Ecolo and Groen for Belgium, Alliance ‘90/The Greens for Germany, GreenLeft for the Netherlands, and the Green Party of England and Wales for the UK. Apart from environmental issues, this group is committed to inclusive democracy and diversity, social justice, and gender equality. In reference to internet politics, it has proposed a free information structure and the majority of the group has a European Federalist affiliation. The nominated lead candidates are German politician Ska Keller and Dutch politician Bas Eickhout.
For more information about their policies, click here.
The current seats distribution
Another group is the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD), which is a populist, Eurosceptic group opposed to European Integration. It is chaired by Nigel Farage, the former leader of the Brexit Party. It is comprised by parties such as the Alternative for Germany, the Five Star Movement of Italy, the Patriots in France and the Party of Free Citizens of the Czech Republic. They advocate for individual member state tradition, stricter borders and less immigration, but they are also opposed to the centralization of power in Brussels and want the dissolution of Europe.
Here is some more information about EFDD.
Then we have the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF), with a far-right ideology advocating for hard Euroscepticism, nationalism and anti-immigration policies. It is comprised of parties such as the National Rally of France, the Northern League of Italy, the Dutch Party for Freedom, and the Polish Congress of the New Right. It is chaired by French Nicolas Bay and Dutch Marcel de Graaff
Here is a word from Marcel de Graaff about their positions.
Of course, there are also the Non-Inscrits who are the independent Members of the European Parliament. Their ideologies range from far-right to far-left, but as of 2015 most of the members are part of the far-right. Some of the members are part of Die PARTEI from Germany, the Communist Party of Greece, Jobbik of Hungary, and the Five Star Movement from Italy.
Apart from the already established political groups, there are some new groups that we need to shed some light on.
One of them is Volt Europa (Volt), a pro-European political movement that is the first-ever attempt at creating a pan-European party. Their agenda involves many policy fields, such as climate change, migration, economic inequality, international conflict, terrorism, and the impact of the technological revolution on the labour market. It’s a transnational party which we can say supports the idea of “demoicracy”, a polity of multiple distinct people, a polity of polities if you want, which is an alternative to democracy. The approved lead candidate is Boeselager.
For more information on Volt, click here
Another one which is new to the stage, is the Democracy in Europe Movements 2025 (DiEM25), which is a pan-European political movement launched in 2015 by Yanis Varoufakis and Srećko Horvat. It has a diverse political character and advocates for social ecology, ecofeminism, post-capitalism, and European federalism. They also defend the implementation of a universal basic income. Some affiliated parties are the Danish Alternativet, the French Génération.s, and the Free and Equal from Italy. A fun fact is that Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek is a prominent member.
Click here for more information.
We hope to have informed you a little bit better about the groups, but of course, keep in mind that all are subject to change. So, it’s best if you take this as an introduction and do some of your own research in the comfort of your home.
Stella Theocharidou is doing pre-Master in Politics & Society at UM and writes for the MD.