Infographic: Europe Moving to the Right

Antje Kästner

In 2017-18, most European left-of-centre parties suffered a serious defeat in parliamentary elections. In France, the Czech Republic, and Italy, new centrist parties were able to expand their political influence. In Austria, Hungary, and Slovenia, traditional conservative parties regained ground. And, with the exception of UKIP, radical right-wing parties strengthened or maintained their positions across Europe.

Europe is moving to the right. This is the verdict when comparing the results of elections to the lower chambers of parliament in nine European Union countries to that of the previous vote.

Starting with the early election to the British House of Commons on 8 June 2017, and ending with the election to the Swedish Riksdag on 9 September 2018, the infographic in chronological order contrasts the distribution of seats in the old parliament with that in the new one.

Parties were mapped by their political conviction from left to right. Traditional social democratic left-of-centre parties are coloured in a dark red; more radical left-wing parties in a lighter red. Similarly, traditional conservative left-of-centre parties in a dark blue; right-wing extremist parties in a lighter blue. Moderates falling in neither of these categories were coloured in ochre. This includes green, liberal, and regional parties as well as independent candidates.

Four trends exemplify, how Europe is moving to the right. First, traditional left-wing parties are losing popular support. Second, new centrist parties are gaining political support. Third, traditional conservative parties gain ground. Fourth, radical right-wing parties maintained or strengthened their positions.

The political decline of traditional left-wing parties are losing support

In France, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Italy, Social Democratic Parties suffered serious defeats. Most dramatically, France’s Socialist Party lost 21.9 percent of votes, dashing their representation in the National Assembly from 280 to just 30 seats. The Czech Social Democratic Party’s vote receded by 13.2 percent, cutting their seats in the Chamber of Deputies from 50 to 15. Italy’s Democratic Party lost 6.7 percent of votes, reducing their parliamentary seats from 297 to 112. The German Social Democrats had to surrender 40 seats in the Bundestag after losing 5.2 percent of voters.

New centrist parties enter parliament

In a number of countries, a large segment of voters moved to support centrist movements or parties, many of which were only recently founded. In France, Emmanuel Macron’s La République en Marche convinced 28.2 percent of voters. Founded in 2016, the party won straightaway more than half of the seats in the National Assembly.

In Italy and the Czech Republic, centrist parties gained ground that for the second time participated in a parliamentary vote. The Five Stars Movement increased its share of votes by 7.1 percent and more than doubled their seats in Italy’s Chamber of Deputies. Meanwhile, Andrej Babiš’ ANO increased its share of votes by 11.0 percent, boosting their number of seats from 47 to 78, making them the biggest faction in the Czech parliament. In Germany, the Liberal Democrats, who were not represented in the previous Bundestag, re-entered parliament, winning 80 of the 709 seats.

The manifestation of traditional conservative parties

While the old right-of-centre parties suffered a defeat in France and Germany, traditional conservative parties were able to expand their political influence in a number of European countries. The Austrian People’s Party increased their share among voters by 7.5 percent, making them the strongest fraction in the National Council. In Hungary and Slovenia, Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz and the Slovenian Democratic Party managed to expand their parliamentary influence.

Radical right-wing parties maintained or strengthened their positions

Finally, in a number of EU-countries, extreme right-wing parties were able to attract a growing number of voters, most dramatically in Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic. In Italy, the League expanded their vote by 13.3 percent, boosting their number of seats from 18 to 125. In Germany, the Alternative for Germany – that in 2013 had just failed to cross the 5 percent threshold, received 12.6 percent of the 2017-vote and subsequently gained 94 seats in the Bundestag. In the Czech Republic, the far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy won 22 seats in the 200-strong legislature.

In France, Hungary, Slovenia, and Sweden, radical right-wing parties were also able to expand their political influence, even though to a lesser degree. In France, the National Front lost voters, but due to the first-past-the-post system still managed to raise their seats in the National Assembly from 2 to 8. Similarly, in Hungary, Jobbik lost 1.2 percent of voters, but still was able to secure 3 additional seats in the National Assembly. The Slovenian National Party entered parliament, securing 4 of the 90 seats. And the Sweden Democrats attracted 4.6 percent more voters compared to the previous election, raising their seats in the Riksdag from 48 to 62.

In Austria, the far-right maintained 51 of the 183 seats in parliament. As such, the United Kingdom was the only country in which a right-wing radical party’s political influence declined. UKIP, which only held one seat in the House of Commons, was kicked-out of parliament.




British House of Commons 07.05.2015 08.06.2017
SDLP Social Democratic and Labour Party 3 0
LP Labour Party 232 262
SNP Scotish National Party 56 35
LD Liberal Democrats 8 12
SF Sinn Fein 4 7
PC Plaid Cymru 3 4
UUP Ulster Unionists 2 0
GP Green Party 1 1
I Independent 1 1
DUP Democratic Unionist Party 8 10
CP Conservative Party 330 317
UKIP UK independence Party 1 0

total seats:

649 649
France’s National Assembly 10-17.06.2012 11-18.6.2017
PCF French Communist Party 0 10
FI La France Insoumise 0 17
DVG Miscellaneous left 22 12
FDG Left Front 10 0
PRG Radical Party of the Left 12 3
SP Socialist Party 280 30
EELV Europe Ecology – The Greens 17 1
REG Regionalists 2 5
DIV Miscellaneous 0 3
DLF Debout la France 0 1
LREM La République En Marche! 0 308
MoDEM Democratic Movement 2 42
AC Centrist Alliance 2 0
NC New Center 12 0
UMP Union for a Popular Movement 194 0
DVD Miscellaneous right 15 6
PRV Radical Party 6 0
LR The Republicans 0 112
UDI Union of Democrats and Independents 0 18
NF National Front 2 8
EXD Far Right 1 1

total seats:

577 577
Germany’s Bundestag 22.09.2013 24.09.2017
Left The Left 64 69
SPD Social Democrats 193 153
A90/Greens Alliance 90/The Greens 63 67
FDP Liberal Democrats 0 80
CDU-CSU Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union 311 246
AfD Alternative for Germany 0 94

total seats:

631 709
Austria’s National Council 29.09.2013 15.10.2017
SPÖ Social Democratic Party of Austria 52 52
Greens The Greens – The Green Alternative 24 0
PILZ Peter Pilz List 0 8
NEOS NEOS – The New Austria 9 10
ÖVP Austrian People’s Party 47 62
TS Team Stronach 11 0
FPÖ Freedom Party of Austria 40 51

total seats:

183 183
The Czech Republic’s Chamber of Deputies 25-26.10.2013  20-21.10.2017
KSČM Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia 33 15
ČSSD Czech Social Democratic Party 50 15
Pirates Czech Pirate Party 0 22
ANO ANO 47 78
KDU–CSL Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People’s Party 14 10
STAN Mayors and Independents 0 6
TOP 09 Tradition Responsibility Prosperity 26 7
ODS Civic Democratic Party 16 25
SPD Freedom and Direct Democracy 0 22
USVIT Dawn of Direct Democracy 14 0

total seats:

200 200
Italy’s Chamber of Deputies 24-25.02.2013 04.03.2018
LeU Free and Equal 0 14
SEL Left Ecology Freedom 37 0
Together Together 0 1
+E More Europe 0 3
CP Popular Civic List 0 2
PD Democratic Party 297 112
UV-SA-FA Aosta Valley 1 0
USEI South American Union Italian Emigrants 1 1
MAIE Associative Movement Italians Abroad 2 1
CD Democratic Center 6 0
UDC Union óf the Centre 8 0
SC Civic Choice 39 0
PDL Party of Freedom 98 0
M5S Five Star Movement 109 227
SVP-PATT South Tyrolean People’s Party-Trentino Tyrolean Autonomist Party 5 4
(NcI-UdC Us With Italy 0 4
Forza Italia Forza Italia 0 104
FDI Brothers of Italy 9 32
League League 18 125

total seats:

630 630
Hungary’s National Assembly 06.04.2014 08.04.2018
LMP Politics Can Be Different 5 8
DK Democratic Coalition 4 9
MSZP Hungarian Socialist Party–Dialogue for Hungary 0 20
MSZP Hungarian Socialist Party 29 0
PM Dialogue for Hungary 1 0
Together Together (Együtt) 3 1
Independent Independent 0 1
MLP Hungarian Liberal Party 1 0
Germans National Self-Government of Germans in Hungary 0 1
Fidesz Fidesz-KDNP 0 133
KDNP Christian Democratic People’s Party 16 0
Fidesz Fidesz 117 0
Jobbik Jobbik 23 26

total seats:

199 199
Slovenia’s National Assembly 13.07.2014 03.06.2018
ZL United Left 6 9
SD Social Democrats 6 10
I&HNM Italian and Hungarian national minorities 2 2
SAB Party of Alenka Bratušek 4 5
DeSUS Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia 10 5
LMŠ List of Marjan Šarec 0 13
SMC Modern Centre Party 36 10
NSI New Slovenia – Christian Democrats 5 7
SDS Slovenian Democratic Party 21 25
SNS Slovenian National Party 0 4

total seats:

90 90
Sweden’s Riksdag 14.09.2014 09.09.2018
V Left Party 21 28
S Social Democratic Party 113 100
MP Green Party 25 16
C Centre Party 22 31
L Liberal People’s Party 19 20
KD Christian Democrats 16 22
M Moderate Party 84 70
SD Sweden Democrats 49 62

total seats:

349 349


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