EUbloggen´s Russia Index shows differences between voting behaviour

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This Blogpost in English has been requested by several readers after I posted the first version of the Index in Swedish. The background to the index is that I have noticed during the autumn that Sweden Democrats MEP:s, despite the party publicly in Sweden saying the opposite, have been ending up with more well-known Pro-Kreml and EU-sceptic parties in votes with direct or indirect interest for Russia. 

To broaden the perspective on how EU-sceptic parties are divided in their views of Russia I have gone through all the votes of the new Parliament in 2014 and have found 12 votes fit for the index. Most votes are concerning implementation of Eastern Partnership strategy through association agreements with Moldovia, Ukraine and Georgia. But here is also votes on lower (or none) custom fees, scientific cooperation, condemning Russias closure of NGO Memorial, heroes of democracy as The Guardian calls Memorial.

In this first version I have picked six parties that forms two different approaches in voting. The first bloc is UKIP and Sweden Democrats from EFDD and Front National. Since my perspective is mainly Swedish/Nordic the others are three EU-sceptic Nordic parties; True Finns and Danish Peoples party (Dansk Folkeparti) from ECR (but former member of the same group as UKIP) and the Swedish Left Party (Vänsterpartiet) from GUE/NGL.

I will add more parties to the index to give a even broader perspective (my plan was to have version 2 of the Index in English, but some of my readers were eager go get a post with out Google Translation).

I have also added the voting numbers of the partygroup EFDD to illustrate how divided that party group is and how SD:s 2 MEP:s could have swinged the balance in the group.

Some conclusion from the matrix above:

*Sweden Democrats & UKIP always vote the same. 

*SD, UKIP & FN votes almost NO in every resolution and agreement where Kremlin has an interest of a no-vote and none-EU action. 

*The group EFDD is divided. A large minority always break the ranks.

*Other Nordic EU-sceptics votes are very different to Sweden Democrats. True Finns are truly the Sweden Democrats opposite. Only in one vote have they been voting the same.

*Swedish Left Party MEP Malin Björk has broken GUE/NGL ranks seven times. In several votes she hasSkärmavbild 2015-01-06 kl. 11.56.06 been the only yes-voter in the group. Number of times SD has broken rank is zero.

EFDD more in depth: In general it is the italians in M5S who abstains while the groups Baltic member &
Polish MEP who votes yes. In one of twelve votes a majority voted against the partygroupline. If SD would have voted differently there would have been a majority against the group´s official position during four votes, and another three would have ended up in tie. In other words, UKIP would not have had a majority within EFDD without SD in total 8 of 12 votes.

To illustrate the differences between the different parties I have done a very simple index. The index does not take into account the importance of the votes, but treat them all the same. This is of course something you can criticize but I have decided to keep it simply to get an overview. Parties receive 1 for a YES, 0 for Abstention and -1 for NO.

The index range between +12 to -12, higher negative number, the more positive it is for Kremlin interest. SD, UKIP and FN all ends up on -10. On the other side of the scale you find True Finns +11, Danish Peoples Party +9 and the Swedish Left Party +8

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EUbloggen have asked the Nordic EU-sceptic MEP:s for reactions and comments on the votes:

The True Finns MEP Jussi Halla-aho comments here (in English).

The Left Party MEP Malin Björk comments here (in Swedish).

The Danish Peoples Party MEP Morten Messerschmidt comments here (in Danish).

The Sweden Democrat MEP Peter Lundgren comments here (in Swedish).


This blogpost is written be Patrik Oksanen, a former SVT (public service) correspondent in Brussels and currently freelance journalist (but soon on a new assignment). Twitter: @patrikoksanen

True Finns: ”We see Russia as a threat”

Jussi Halla-Aho Foto © European Union 2014 - EP

Jussi Halla-aho Photo © European Union 2014 – EP

EUbloggen has done an index (currently for six EU-skeptic parties, four from Nordic Countries and UKIP & FN) concerning European Parliamentary votes. Read about it here and how it is constructed (in Swedish, use Google Translate). The index shows that in votes with Russian interest the EU-sceptic parties are divided by their views about Russia. On one side parties like Front National, UKIP and Sweden Democrats are saying no in almost every vote. On the other side you have parties voting yes or in some degree abstain there votes because their views on Russia.

EUbloggen have done an email interview with MEP Jussi Halla-aho from True Finns (ECR-group). The True Finns have voted Yes in every vote, but one, in the twelve votes of the Index.

Sweden Democrats argues that a Yes to Association Agreement is a Yes of EU-enlargement of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldavia, do you agree?

– I disagree. Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova do not meet or even approach the criteria for membership. The decisions taken by the parliament aim to lessen the economic dependence of Ukraine from Russia and thereby strengthen the democratic process in that country. We see Russia as a threat to European security and values and think it is strategically necessary to remove countries like Ukraine from the ”grey zone” and Russian sphere of influence.

 True Finns are former member of EFD (today renamed EFDD), how do you view UKIP:s politics concerning Russia?

– We think it is very unfortunate. We share UKIP’s views concerning the negative impact of the EU on nation states, but we do not see the Putinesque authoritarianism as an attractive alternative.

SD and UKIP have 100 per cent voting, there are speculations that SD is forced to vote as UKIP in these votes, from your experience is that a likely or unlikely speculation?

– I think it is a possibility. On the other hand, the Five Star Movement MEP’s are very pro-immigration and usually vote differently from other members of the EFDD when it comes to asylum questions. Thus, UKIP does not seem to be able to control other delegations within the EFDD.

And Jussi Halla-aho also wanted to add this remark…

– Nationalism may mean very different things in different countries. France and Britain are former empires, and for FN and UKIP ”nationalism” may be closer to chauvinism rather than strict opposition to any form of imperialism, as it is in our case. 

– They may see Putin’s Russia as a welcome counter-weight to American influence and monopolar world order. That is, a new cold war and balance of power would also strengthen their own position in global politics.

– To us, nationalism is less self-centered and means general respect for ALL nation states and a general rejection of hierarchical relationship between nations, big and small.


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For mainly my Swedish readers:

Jussi Halla-aho stated recently (link in Swedish) about the similarities between Sweden Democrates and True Finns on immigration following; ”In Sweden the True Finns would be a Naziparty, while the Sweden Democrats would not make any reaction at all in Finland. We have the same line concerning immigration.”

This quote underlines the similarities between the parties but also the difference in voting in European Parliament.