In Brief

Support for anti-EU parties ‘doubles in two decades’

Study finds there have been three major spikes since 1992

The vote share for anti-EU parties has more than doubled in two decades, according to research conducted by academic experts in populism.

The study found that since 1992, the first year in which there were free and fair elections in every country currently a member of the bloc, combined support for European far-right, far-left and other Eurosceptic parties has surged from 15% to almost 35%.

One of the researchers, Matthijs Rooduijn, a political scientist at the University of Amsterdam, said: “European leaders who support the EU integration process can absolutely not afford to sit back and be complacent. Eurosceptic parties are very much thriving and it is unlikely that this is going to change anytime soon.”

The study, published in The Guardian, says there were three spikes in support for Euroscepticism in the period it covered. 

Anti-EU sentiment first started climbing in 2005, due to a sharp Eurosceptic turn taken by Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) party. There was another major rise in 2010 when Hungary’s Fidesz – “the future of Europe” - went fully against European integration. 

The third jump came in 2013, with the emergence of the Five Star Movement (M5S) in Italy, followed by the growth in popularity of Alternative fur Deutschland in Germany and Podemos in Spain.

Last month, Marine Le Pen warned the European Union that the eurosceptic movement is now “very powerful” and urged EU member states to join forces to “abandon” the failing union for a new form of independent “cooperation”.

However, several studies have shown that public opinion of the EU has, on average, become more positive in the last four years. 

The Guardian says this trend reflects “mounting uncertainties caused by the upheaval of Britain’s Brexit vote and the election in the US of Donald Trump, who has made no secret of his hostility towards the EU”.

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