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27 Apr, 2019 07:38

Right-wing parties gain highest voter approval ahead of EU elections – study

Right-wing parties gain highest voter approval ahead of EU elections – study

One in 10 Europeans will back right-wing parties in the upcoming European Union elections, according to a new study, pointing to growing support for Euroskeptic movements across the bloc.

A Bertelsmann Foundation study found that right-wing parties with a populist, nationalist or Euroskeptic bent received the highest level of voter approval of any single political grouping. 10.3 percent of voters said they would cast their ballots for right-wing parties, while only 6.2 percent said they positively identified with left-wing groups, and 4.4 percent with a Green party.

Right-wing parties have seen a surge in support amid growing disillusionment with Brussels. Those parties include Italy’s Lega Nord, France’s National Rally party, as well as the right-wing Alternative for Germany – commonly known by its German acronym, AfD.

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The research indicates that voters care more about stopping parties and policies they dislike than advancing a positive agenda of their own, which, the researchers said, could end up feeding movements on the fringes.

“Many citizens no longer choose to back one party, but rather vote against parties they oppose the most,” said Robert Vehrkamp, a co-author of the Bertelsmann study.

“The populist parties have managed to create a stable and loyal voter base in a relatively short space of time,” he added.

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Nearly 24,000 voters were surveyed for the study, which conducted interviews in 12 EU member states. The EU’s parliamentary elections will be held May 26.

Even centrists such as French President Emmanuel Macron are beginning to bend to growing right-wing sentiment. In an apparent concession to the Yellow Vest protest movement, the French leader conceded that the Schengen agreement, which allows for visa-free travel between 22 EU member states and four non-EU countries, is no longer tenable. Echoing right-wing leaders such as Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Macron also called for changes to the Dublin Regulation, which gives an EU member state the right to send back asylum seekers to their first country of entry to the bloc.

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