Useful Notes: Standard European Political Landscape
as applied to politics.
Most European nations have a multi-party political system, as a result of proportional representation; and even those countries which have a district system (such as Britain and France) tend to have more than two "significant" parties. And in just about all of them, you'll find several (and often all) of the following parties, in approximate
order from Right to Left:
- Far Right: A quite recent arrival in many countries. Far Right parties are a mixed bag, ranging from outright neo-Nazis who Put On The Reich to much more moderate groups. They are fond of simple, radical positions and strong language. They intensely dislike immigration, Islam, The European Union and the 'left-wing elite'. They are usually in favour of a tough approach to crime, and use nationalist and populist rhetoric. Interestingly, their economic programme is usually more left-wing than right-wing. Far Right parties attract many voters who are in some way dissatisfied with the more moderate, established political parties.
- Right-wing Populists: Kind of a modern offshoot of the traditional Far Right. Right-wing populist parties usually hate on the same things the Far Right parties do but try to look presentable and spend a lot of their time distancing themselves from the Far Right parties or Neo-Nazis. Most either come straight from the Far Right tradition (which makes their efforts to distance themselves seem very implausible) or descend from splinter groups of Classical Liberal parties.
- Classical Liberals: The primary defenders of capitalism and the free market. Usually popular among businesspeople and the upper class for this reason. This right-wing economic agenda is often coupled with a progressive stance on social issues like abortion, gay marriage and euthanasia, although in recent years, many Classical Liberal parties have moved to a more conservative position, especially when it comes to law and order. Americans should think of the Libertarians, but slightly more OK with social programs and much less OK with gun rights (this is Europe, remember?).
- Conservatives: The catch-all right-wing party. Best described as a fusion of the Christian Democrats (see below) and the Classical Liberals; they tend to have the economic agenda of the latter and the social agenda of the former. It is very important to note that a Conservative party will usually not thrive alongside any of these parties; in fact, a Conservative party can only flourish where Classical Liberal and Christian Democratic parties do not exist or are very small, and vice versa. Thus a European country will either have a Christian Democratic party and a Classical Liberal one (Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden) or a Conservative party (Britain, France, Spain). Switzerland does have a Conservative party alongside Christian Democrats and Classical Liberals, but it's quite small.
- Christian Democrats: A party guided by Christian principles. They are often very close to the centre, although slightly to the right of it. They tend to have a moderately conservative position on social issues, but not a very clear economic agenda note . Natural allies of the Classical Liberals, but they will also often work together with the Social Democrats (see below) in a "Grand Coalition". They're somewhat more uncomfortable when they have to work together with the Far Right, as has happened in the Netherlands.
- Progressive Liberals: Somewhat rarer (and usually smaller) than any other type of (non-fringe) party on this list, but they still show up often enough to be worth mentioning here. They have a very progressive stance on social issues and often a slightly-right-of-centre economic programme. They are also known for their fondness for electoral reform; many Progressive Liberal parties have 'Democratic' in their name for this reason, and indeed they are, in many ways, comparable to the Democratic Party in the US. They are often seen as sophisticated, nuanced and pragmatic; this image mostly attracts votes from the intellectual elite. A Progressive Liberal party will often work together with more or less anyone except the Far Right and the Far Left, but they're often especially cosy with the Greens, with whom they share their progressive social agenda.
- Social Democrats: Almost always the principal left-wing party, and the direct opponents of the Classical Liberals. They will often have "Labour" or "Workers'" in their name, indicating their roots in the old struggle for high wages, decent working conditions and generous social security. (In former Soviet Bloc countries, instead, they often are direct descendants of the Party.) They are clearly on the left, but not radically so, on both economic and social issues. Many of them made a move to the economic right in The Nineties (the "Third Way"), but most of them have returned to their left-wing roots since.
- Greens: As the name implies, a party that cares a great deal about sustainability and the environment. They support clean energies and oppose nuclear power and GM Os. This is usually coupled with a firmly left-wing (though not in a traditional way) economic agenda and a very progressive stance on social issues. Natural allies of the Social Democrats and the Progressive Liberals.
- Green parties also sometimes have a strong business-friendly/classical liberal wing or similar internal factions. Most common lines of divide are the aforementioned classical liberal against social democratic, social democratic against far left or "Fundi" ("fundamentalist", opposition strategy) against "Realo" ("Realpolitik", strategy of working towards a coalition)
- In some other Green parties, left-wing economic ideology is so ingrained that business-friendly Greens formed small splinter groups with limited chances of success. In some countries, there are also niche environmentalist groups that blend traditional "green" concerns with Christian Democratic positions on some issues.
- Far Left: A radically left-wing party which will defend the welfare state at all costs and doesn't trust businesspeople. They have more in common with the Far Right than either likes to admit; both "Far" factions share a fondness for populism and simplicity, and a distrust of The European Union. Both parties channel working-class discontent and rage, but whereas the Far Right directs this rage towards immigrants and left-wing intellectuals, the Far Left tends to direct it towards bankers, businesspeople and "managers".
- Pirates: This is a special type of political platform. They usually advertise themselves as an alternative to the other political parties. No clear definition if they are left or right [though many analysts view them as leftist] and the pirate parties claim themselves to be above all political spectrum. They demand liberalising or abolishing copyright, greater transparency in government, direct democracy, and removing what they see as excessive government controls. They are also suspicious of companies, partly motivated by the pirates' advocacy for copyright and intellectual property reform. They are usually [sometimes mistakenly and not always so] lumped together with Anonymous, and their voter base is typically very young and extremely tech-savvy/nerdy.
- Regionalists: This is Europe, after all. Regionalist parties exist in various forms and range from advocating secession to demanding autonomy. Vary wildly on their other political platforms, ranging from left-wing (e.g. the Republican Left of Catalonia) to center-left/social-democratic (e.g. the Scottish National Party) to center-right (e.g. the New Flemish Alliance) to right-populist (e.g. the Italian Lega Nord) to far-right (e.g. the Vlaams Belang or "Flemish Interest").
Of course, these are not all
present in every
European country (some of them are even mutually exclusive, as pointed out above). Nor is it the case that there are no European political parties that do not correspond to any of these "types". But parties from this list do make up an overwhelming majority in just about every parliament in Europe, and dominate the political landscape of most European nations.
Also note that the parties can differ considerably in size. Traditionally, the Christian Democrats (or the Conservatives in countries which have them) and the Social Democrats are considered the "Big Two"; sometimes the Classical Liberals are also included, which gives us the "Big Three". Far Left and Far Right parties were often small before the Turn of the Millennium
, but have now grown to medium size in many countries. The Greens and the Progressive Liberals are usually small to medium-sized.
Generally being more to the right socio-politically than neighboring Germany has had an effect on the local alignment.
- Far Right: Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs (FPÖ) (Freedom Party of Austria), except in Carinthia where they're called Die Freiheitlichen in Kärnten (FPK) (The Freedom Party of Carinthia)
- The divide between the Far Right and the Classical Liberals has been historically wafer-thin in Austria since the Austrian Liberal tradition has always been tied to German Nationalism, which in Austria means becoming a part of Germany. The Freedom Party has always had a strong business wing (which notably lead to their first role in a coalition government in 1983) and various literature on them has claimed the party's history to be an internal struggle between the "Nationals" (the Far Right wing, made up of ex-Nazis, the national student fraternities and downright Neonazis) and the "Liberals" (the pro-business wing), which the Nationals pretty much won with Jörg Haider's rise to the leadership of the party in 1986. It gets complicated after that because under his reign the party attracted more people than it ever had before. He left the party amid internal struggles in 2005 and founded the BZÖ (see below).
- Classical Liberals: Bündnis Zukunft Österreich (BZÖ) (Alliance for the Future of Austria)
- Originally Jörg Haider's party after leaving the FPÖ, after his death decided to transform into a "Right-Liberal" party to fuse economic liberalism with social conservative views. Still trailing along the line between Right-wing Populists and Classical Liberals.
- Team Stronach (FRANK/TS), a new one-person centered party around self-made millionaire (and Canadian)note Frank Stronach.
- Conservative: Schwarz-Gelbe Allianz (SGA) (Black-Yellow Alliance): Somewhere between this and the Christian Democrats in views though officially nonpartisan, it is a monarchist party founded in 2004 and influenced by the late Otto von Habsburg. Unsurprisingly, its members advocate for the restoration of the Habsburg monarchy in Austria, as well as a monarchist union comprising many of the countries that once made up the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.
- Christian Democrats: Österreichische Volkspartei (ÖVP) (Austrian People's Party)
- Social Democrats: Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs (SPÖ) Social Democratic Party of Austria)
- Greens: Die Grünen - die grüne Alternative (The Greens - The Green Alternative)
Belgium has been a highly decentralised federation for a few decades now, and its major parties are split between Flemish (Dutch-speaking) and Francophone. However, within each group there is a fairly standard distribution.
- Flemish parties:
- Far Right: Vlaams Belang (VB) (Flemish Interest): Against Islam and immigrants, in favor of Flemish independence.
- Classical Liberals: Open Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten (Open VLD) (Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats): Have moved in a somewhat progressive-liberal directionnote but aren't there yet.
- Christian Democrats: Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams (CD&V) (Christian Democratic and Flemish)
- Social Democrats: Socialistische Partij Anders (sp.a) (Different Socialist Party)
- Greens: Groen (Green): Usually stylized Groen!
- Regionalists: Nieuw Vlaamse Alliantie (New Flemish Alliance): More or less classical-liberal, but with a Christian-democratic wing, and really mostly a single-issue party favoring Flemish independence without being racist about it (as the Vlaams Belang are).
- Francophone parties:
- Classical Liberals: Mouvement réformateur (MR) (Reformist Movement)
- Christian Democrats: Centre démocrate humaniste (CDH) (Democratic Humanist Centre)
- Social Democrats: Parti Socialiste (PS) (Socialist Party)
- Greens: Ecolo
See British Political System
for a complete breakdown. None of the British Political Parties fit very easily into the categories above, with each having some elements from two or three.
- Far Right: The British National Party, National Front & English Defence League all have parts of this, although the BNP explicitly styles itself as a socialist party (they used to campaign under the slogan 'like the Labour Party you used to vote for' until the Labour Party changed the law to stop them).
- Classical Liberals: The Liberal Democrats 'Orange Book' faction & the Conservative pro-business faction - which are the two factions currently in charge of each party, leading to the present Coalition Government. A few UKIP members used to be this, but as UKIP policies have become increasingly protectionist, UKIP free-traders have rapidly left - many of them jumping to the Liberal Democrats.
- Conservatives: Conservative Party, although paradoxically only part of the Conservative Party are actual Conservatives. UKIP also have a lot of archetypal conservatives, mostly those who are very conservative indeed and object to the classical liberals running the Coalition - which is why the free marketeers have been mostly forced out of UKIP.
- The Northern Irish Ulster Unionist Party used to take the Tory whip at Westminster, but that broke down after the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985. Since then, the UUP has had trouble getting elected to Westminster anyway, so even though the parties have reconciled, it's a moot point.
- Progressive Liberals: Liberal Democrats - the Social Liberal Forum faction of the party.
- Additionally, the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland takes the Liberal Democratic whip when elected to Westminster.
- Social Democrats: Labour Party and the Liberal Left faction of the Liberal Democrats - the Liberal Democrats having been formed from a merger of the (classical) Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party at around the time that the Labour Party had moved into the far left of UK Politics.
- The Northern Irish Social Democratic and Labour Party informally takes the Labour whip at Westminster—i.e. they usually vote with Labour, but they are not formally bound to do so. The SDLP is Nationalist in orientation.
- Far Left: Elements of both Labour and the Greens. Labour especially still have backing from many Trade Unions. Other Trade Unions support the Trade Unions and Socialist Coaliliton (TUSC), which is the Far Left's Far Left.
- Greens: Green Party: This one is odd, because there are actually three separate Green Parties: one in England and Wales, another in Scotland (it advocates independence), and another in Northern Ireland (it's Nationalist). Only the England and Wales branch has won seats at Westminster, but all three have won seats in the devolved parliaments/assemblies for Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and London.
- The Green Party is heavily socialist - much moreso nowadays than the Labour Party, leading to jokes about them being watermelons - Green on the outside, Red in the middle.
- Regionalists: Scottish National Party (Scotland), Plaid Cymru (Wales), Mebyon Kernow (Cornwall) - more to the left-wing; English Democrats (England) more to the right-wing. And arguably most parties in Northern Ireland.
- Arguably, the Liberal Democrats as well. Although they are a national party, they are the only one to consistently call for greater devolution to local communities. In fact, most Lib Dems go further than Regional assemblies or Scottish/Welsh Devolution - they want more power in town halls. Given the Classical Liberal faction of the Tories has/had a similar preference for decentralisation (although not devolution), this is one of the policy areas making the Coalition possible. (The Lib Dems, however, also officially advocate for federalism, while the Tories want to keep the unitary state.)
- Far Right: Dansk Folkeparti Danish People's Party
- Classical Liberals: Venstre, Danmarks liberale parti (Left, Denmark's Liberal Party): Usually just called Venstre. Got its paradoxical name because when the party was founded the 19th century, it represented the left wing of liberal bourgeoisie against Hřjre ("The Right"), the landed aristocracy and Church of Denmark. Later on the workers got in on the game and were further left than Left, and Hřyre died out with the aristocracy, and merged with...
- Conservatives: Det Konservative Folkeparti (The Conservative People's Party): Somewhat unusually, they exist in Denmark and a Christian Democratic party doesn't. They are small and these days more or less locked into an alliance with Venstre.
- Progressive Liberals: Det Radikale Venstre (The Radical Left): A breakaway from Venstre that called itself "radical" because it incorporated some leftist ideas.
- Social Democrats: Socialdemokraterne (Social Democrats)
- Greens: Socialistisk Folkeparti (Socialist People's Party)
- Far Left: Enhedslisten (Unity List)
- Far Right: Perussuomalaiset (PS) (True Finns)
- Christian Democrats: Suomen Kristillisdemokraatit (KD) (Finnish Christian Democrats)
- Progressive Liberals: Kansallinen Kokoomus (National Coalition Party)
- Social Democrats: Suomen Sosialidemokraattinen Puolue (SDP) (Social Democratic Party of Finland)
- Greens: Vihreä liitto (Green League)
- Far Left: Vasemmistoliitto (Left Alliance)
- Harder to classify: Suomen Keskusta (The Center Party, or literally "Finland's Center Party")
- Mainly an agrarian party by its roots but they also consider themselves centrists. They tend to, however, be classified as liberal in Finland; slightly to the right of center, which is why a coalition government between the Coalition Party and the Center Party is still called porvarihallitus (capitalist government). They are not a typical liberal party, though. They are very popular in the countryside which gives them a strong base.
See French Political System
- Far Right: Front National (FN) (National Front)
- Right-wing Populists: Front National (FN) (National Front) again, or at least its offshoot Rassemblement Bleu Marine (RBM) (Navy Blue Rally) ; since Marine Le Pen became leader of the FN in 2011, the party has tried to distance itself from the worst parts of its history (links with WWII collaborators, antisemitism and xenophobia...) and instead presented itself as a party founded by veterans of the French resistance (which has been proven untrue). It was actually founded by members of a neo-fascist movement called "Ordre Nouveau"note .
- Conservatives: Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) (Union for a Popular Movement)
- Recently, a new party was formed : the Union des Démocrates et Indépendants (UDI) (Union of Democrats and Independents), which seems like a small coalition of (usually moderate) Conservatives, Classical Liberals, Christian Democrats, and some right-leaning Progressive Liberals. They're all allies of the UMP, anyway. Basically it's virtually the Spiritual Successor of the old UDF which was the textbook definition of Christian Democrats.
- Christian Democrats : Mouvement démocrate (MoDem) (Democratic Movement) note . Arguably the UDI since it's a coalition with several centrist components. Technically, one could probably also count Christine Boutin's Parti Chrétien-Démocrate (PCD) (Christian-Democratic Party)note
- Progressive Liberals: Mouvement démocrate (MoDem) (Democratic Movement) note , Parti Radical de Gauche (Radical Party of the Left) note The other half of the historical Parti Radical, officially called Parti Radical and known as Parti Radical Valoisien to tell it apart from the PRG, note used to be part of the UMP and is a founding member of the UDI.
- Social Democrats: Parti Socialiste (PS) (Socialist Party)
- Greens: Europe Écologie - Les Verts (EELV) (Europe Ecology - The Greens) Plus a bunch of splinter centrist parties like Cap21 or Le Trčfle. EELV itself is technically a coalition between the historical anti-growth Greens and the Europe Ecologie list that did quite well at the 2009 European parliamentary election.
- Far Left: Front de Gauche (Left Front) + Two minor parties that are even farther left.
See Political System of Germany
and Postwar German Political Parties
- Far right: ''Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands: Die Volksunion" (National Democratic Party of Germany: The People's Union). Heavily infiltrated by the BfV, the German internal security service—to the point where it is accused of being a Flock of Wolves—just in case...
- Classical Liberals: Freie demokratische Partei (FDP) (Free Democratic Party)
- Christian Democrats: Christlich demokratische Union Deutschlands (CDU) (Christian Democratic Union of Germany), except in Bavaria where they're called the Christlich-soziale Union in Bayern (CSU) (Christian Social Union of Bavaria)
- Pirates: Piratenpartei Deutschland (PIRATEN) (Pirate Party of Germany): One of the more successful Pirate Parties in Europe.
- Social Democrats: 'Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD) (Social Democratic Party of Germany)
- Greens: Bündnis '90/Die Grünen (Alliance '90/The Greens)
- Far Left: Die Linke (The Left)
Greece has seen a major political shake-up since the beginning of the economic crisis, with the party system being distinctly in flux.
- Far Right: Chrysi Augi (XA) (Golden Dawn): Who have been accused of being Nazis, but not without justification. Look at their flag! (And their long record of Hitler fanboyism, and their hatred of minorities...)
- Conservatives: Nea Demokratia (ND) (New Democracy)
- Social Democrats: Panellenio Sosialistiko Kinema (PASOK) (Panhellenic Socialist Movement)
- Far Left: Three parties:
- Synaspismos Rizospastikis Aristeras (SYRIZA) (Coalition of the Radical Left); includes the Greens.
- Kommounistiko Komma Elladas (KKE) (Communist Party of Greece)
- Dimokratiki Aristera (DIMAR) (Democratic Left; a center-left to left breakaway from SYRIZA that split with the main party to provide limited but much-needed support to an ND-led grand coalition during the debt crisis)
Previously Laikós Orthódoxos Synagermós (LAIOS)
(Popular Orthodox Rally)—who emphasized Greek Orthodox identity—occupied the Far-Right seat, but XA out-righted them, and LAIOS has faded into obscurity. Now people who found LAIOS distasteful are sort of sad to see them go.
Cyprus is a weird one, and not only because the country is currently divided and left in limbo; parties didn't really exist for the first 20 years of the Republic (keep in mind that the country was funded in 1960), and a bunch of them was created because someone noticed that it's weird not to have them (okay, the Communist Party existed in some form before 1960, but only that one). The composition of the parliament of the Republic of Cyprus, which controls the south part and it's elected by the Greek Cypriots is as follows:
- Right-wing Populists: EVROKO (Evropaďkó Kómma - European Party): Former Christian Democrats (see below) that left because they disagreed with the latters' support for the 2004 Reunification Plan, which they saw as a bad deal. Now slowly being dissolved and absorbed by extra-parliamentary parties.
- Christian Democrats / Convservatives : DISY (Dimokratikós Sinagermós - Democratic Rally): Quite a big family, being one of the two big parties. Range from Ultra-conservative ultra-religious nationalists to neoliberals (some of them being noticeably more progressive that the rest of the party). As of March 2013, they are the government.
- Centrist: DIKO (Dimokratikó Kómma): The third biggest party, essentially acting as the king maker. Despite their bursts of nationalism, they will go for any party that offers them a good deal in a coalition.
- Social-Democrats: EDEK (used to be an acronym, not anymore): They are the fourth largest party and despite their commitment to social democracy, they spend their time trying to become the next king makers, by engaging in quasi-right-wing populism (no, don't think of Nazis, just a smaller DIKO)
- Communists: AKEL (Anrthotikó Kómma Ergazómenou Laoú - Progressive Party of Working People), The other one of the Two Big parties; not really communist - don't worry, they suspended their goal for a socialist state long ago. In practice, they are social democratic at best. For a party calling itself "progressive", it's also quite conservative, at least in comparison to social democrats in the rest of Europe. Currently being in denial about how bad their reign in government was (2008 to 2013).
Like Poland below and Austria to a degree, Hungarian politics is a few ticks to the right. At the same time, the continuing legacy of both Communist rule and World War II
have left their peculiar mark in the alignment.
- Far Right: Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom (Jobbik) (Movement for a Better Hungary), the Hungarian equivalent to the British National Party and Golden Dawn.
- Conservative: Fidesz - Magyar Polgári Szövetség (Fidesz) (Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Union), originally an anti-Communist youth movement, now the currently dominant party in the country.
- Christian Democrats: Kereszténydemokrata Néppárt (KDNP) (Christian Democratic People's Party)
- Social Democrats: Magyar Szocialista Párt (MSZP) (Hungarian Socialist Party), founded by former members of the Cold War-era Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party after the end of Communist rule.
- Far Left: Magyar Munkáspárt(Hungarian Workers' Party), an explicitly Communist party formed by other ex-Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party members.
See Irish Political System
for a complete breakdown. The Irish system is strange because of the two "main" parties, only one relatively neatly fits into the traditional spectrum. This is because the main parties descent from the Pro-Treaty and Anti-Treaty factions in The Irish Civil War
, and developed more as political machines than anything with any kind of coherent ideology. Eventually, the parties did gain some
sort of principle, but not much. Like Poland below, Ireland's politics are heavily influenced by the Catholic Church, which has historically pulled things a few ticks to the right; this was for a long time supported by Ireland's heavily rural character. Finally, The Troubles
figure heavily into Irish identity and politics.
- Classical Liberals: Fianna Fáil (inevitably called that in English; means "Warriors of Ireland"). One of the two "main" parties, and doesn't actually fit here; of the two "main" parties, it is the more nakedly machine-like. As such, it is favoured by the business elite even though they are more populist than anything else. Descended from the Anti-Treaty faction.
- Christian Democrats: Fine Gael (inevitably called that in English; means "Family of the Irish"). The other "main" party, this one more or less is Christian Democratic—and very Catholic. Descended from the Pro-Treaty faction.
- Social Democrats: Labour Party. Joined at the hip to Fine Gael (similar economic policies).
- Far-Left: Two parties, from two different sub-traditions:
- Sinn Féin (inevitably called that in English; means "We Ourselves"). Claims descent from the original Sinn Féin Nationalist movement. Socialist and fiercely, fiercely Nationalist. Formerly the political wing of the Provisional IRA, now a Eurosceptic far-left party.
- United Left Alliance: A grouping of three far-left groups, without the same links to Nationalism as Sinn Fein.
- Green: Green Party. Formerly allies of Fianna Fáil. Now wiped out.
- Far Right/Regionalist: Lega Nord (LN) (Northern League): As their name implies, they are only found in the northern part of the country; they want either more autonomy for it or complete independence. What bigotry they have is mostly directed at southern Italians—whom they regard as backwards, lazy, and a drain on the country—rather than foreigners (although they hardly get a free pass).
- Classical Liberals: Forza Italia ("Go, Italy!") a.k.a. "Berlusconi's party".
- Christian Democrats: Unione di Centro (UdC) (Centre Union)
- Progressive Liberals: Italia dei Valori (IdV) (Italy of Values)
- Social Democrats: Partito Democratico (PD) (Democratic Party): Although this is an odd one, since they could equally well be considered Progressive Liberals; they formed from a merger of various centrist and centre-left parties, some of which were Progressive Liberals, and some of which were social democrats (one major faction, the Democrats of the Left, descended directly from the Communist Party of the Cold War years). The "Democratic Party" label was an explicit reference to the American one, but PD MEPs sit with the Social Democrats—although the EP group changed its name to accomodate the fact that the PD was not entirely social democratic.
- Far Left/Green: Sinistra Ecologia Libertŕ (SEL) (Left Ecology Freedom): In a fairly solid alliance with the PD—they're allowed to run someone in the election for who will be the PD candidate for Prime Minister.
- Regionalist: Südtiroler Volkspartei (SVP) (South Tyrolean People's Party): Party for the German- and Ladinian-speaking people in Alto Adige/South Tyrol; also numerous parties in the Aosta Valley.
In the last election the Italian political system was shattered by comedian Beppe Grillo's Movimento 5 Stelle
(Five Star Movement) who won a sixth of all seats in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. No one is entirely sure what exactly they want except for all the other parties to get lost. And apparently they don't like The European Union
- Far Right: Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV) (Party for Freedom)
- Opinions can variy wildly on wether the PVV is Far Right or Right-wing Populist.
- Classical Liberals: Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD) (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy)
- Christian Democrats: Christen-Democratisch Appél (CDA) (Christian Democratic Appeal)
- Progressive Liberals: Democraten '66 (D66) (Democrats '66)
- Social Democrats: Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA) (Labour Party)
- Greens: GroenLinks (Green-Left)
- Far Left: Socialistische Partij (SP) (Socialist Party)
On account of its low electoral threshold and purely proportional electoral system, the Netherlands also has a tradition of "testimonial parties": fringe and special-interest parties who seek seats in parliament to make a statement
rather than obtain political power. Currently, three such parties have representation: Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij
(SGP) (Reformed Political Party, representing the hardcore conservative Reformed folks of the Dutch "Bible Belt
" advocating for Biblically-based government; most notably openly states women and men are "of equal value but not equal to men
" and excluded women from membership until 2006), Partij voor de Dieren
) (Party for the Animals; animal-rights
), and 50PLUS (pensioners' interest).
Norway developed a political party system after the rise of parliamentarism in 1884. The oldest parties were established around that time. For years the only two parties worth mentioning were the classical liberals
(the right) and the progressive liberals
(the left), of which the latter is the oldest and has the first elected prime minister in Norwegian history. From this party sprang both the christian democrats and the Farmers party/the centre party. The Labour party arose from the growing unions, and soon set a wedge between the liberals, until they took over completely in 1935. They have largely had the momentum ever since. The Socialist left broke off from the Labour party in 1960 because of disagreement over the NATO membership, while communists broke out as early as in 1923. The modern far left is formed from the Norwegian student uprising in 1968. Yeah, and the Progress Party showed up under a different name in 1973, getting votes from discontented right-wingers all over the place.
- Far Right: Fremskrittspartiet (FrP) (Progress Party). Arose in 1973 as a party to cut taxes and public expenses. Has a notably colorful history with many twists and turns, being a "one man party" for many years. Populist in nature. The party will not label a clear statement on the EU. The founder of the party had connections to the pre war fasctist party, but nobody speaks about that...
- Classical Liberals: Hřyre (Conservative Party or "The Right"). Gathered support from the merchants in the cities, the wealthy businessmen and the old elite. Pro EU. Was shaped from the old official elite that opposed parliamentarism, which was instigated from the Left wing.
- Christian Democrats: Kristelig Folkeparti (KrF) (Christian People's Party). Sprang out of the classical liberals, with a strong support in the south west, where the laymen`s christianity is strong. Preaches strongly on family values. Pro EOC, against EU.
- Farmer`s Party/the center party: Senterpartiet (SP) Niche party for rural interests. When this party is in government, the farmers usually get a bigger share of the national budget. Against EU and the EOC.
- Progressive Liberals: Venstre (Liberal Party "Left"). Known for the longest party history, and for most of the fractionism. Has split up and reformed time and again. It is said about this party that the party members never agree on anything. Last split was after the EEC referendum, when the party lost half it`s members to a new liberal party that never made it. Today, the support for the EU still threatens to disrupt what is left of the party.
- Social Democrats: Arbeiderpartiet (Worker's Party). The centre of power in Norway, almost to the point that any other party has to deal with them. Pro EU officially, with a strong anti wing to the left.
- Moderate Left: Sosialistisk Venstreparti (SV) (Socialist Left Party). Broke off the Labour party in 1960 after heavy disputes over the NATO question. Been a staunch opposition party ever since, but softened up after getting in government from 2005. Most astounding feature is kicking the Labour party out of position in 1963 with two men in parliament. Usually the party for students, university people and teachers. Against the EU.
- Far left: Rřdt: Actually a coalition between different socialist alliances like the red voter alliance and the former Worker`s Communist Party (AKP -ml: The marxist-leninists). The old Communist Party from 1923 is still kicking, but is held out of the loop. All those parties are opposed to an EU membership.
- Outside of blocks: The Greens (MDG). Came in as a branch of a bigger environmental movement with related parties in many countries. Has recently gained one seat in parliament. Has a knack of siding with the reds in many cases.
Contrary to other European countries, the question of EU membership gains the greatest support in the centre and moderate right (with the "Centre Party" as a weird exception from that rule). The left wing is more opposed the further left one gets, and the far right refuses to take sides (By now, every party has a majority against, even the traditional right, making the party elites more "pro" than the common folk regardless of political leanings). The usual rule in Europe is to find the anti EU leanings to the right. One of the reasons Norway is labelled "backwards country".
Note: The influence of the Catholic Church moves Poland's politics a few ticks to the right from the rest of the pack, hence the unusual alignment.
- Far Right: Kongres Nowej Prawicy (Congress of the New Right) — "libertarian" party. All about reducing the state to basic functions, minimal taxes and complete deregulation. They're also socially conservative and extremely Eurosceptic. The newest in a long string of parties led by Janusz Korwin-Mikke, a politician and pundit very open about his hatred of democracy. Eternally outside of the Sejm, but highly popular on the Internet.
- Right-Wing Populists (or Christian Democrats, if you are feeling charitable): Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (Law and Justice) — Combines social conservatism, populist leftist economics (higher taxes on the rich* , lowering the retirement age, occasionally talks about nationalising banks), mild Euroscepticism, and a tough stance on law and order, particularly corruption. Spent the last few years in opposition due to their tiresomely aggressive rhetorics, but making a comeback now that the economy is in trouble. Infamous for accusing the government of conspiring with Russia to assassinate the PiS-aligned former president, who died in a plane crash (see: Conspiracy Theories).
- Solidarna Polska (United Poland): A copy of PiS started by MPs who were kicked out of PiS for questioning the leadership. Basically PiS with less conspiracy theorism and the odium of splitting the right, and as such aren't terribly popular. Try to eke out some votes by aligning with conservative elements in the Church.
- Classical Liberals: Platforma Obywatelska (Civic Platform): PO is considered to be to the left of PiS. It traditionally supports free markets* , and has a moderate social conservative stance, though it contains both Progressive Liberal and conservative wings. A few members of both factions have defected to the RP and PT (see below). PO and PiS have been the two major parties since about 2005.
- Polska Razem (Poland Together): Libertarian-ish, social conservative party started by a few conservative MPs who were kicked out of PO.
- Progressive Liberals: Twój Ruch (Your Movement), formerly known as Ruch Palikota (Palikot's Movement): A socially-liberal party established by Janusz Palikot, The Gadfly of Polish politics, formerly a PO Member of the Sejm. Rode into parliament on a wave of discontent with the Church. Notably features the first openly gay and transgender MPs.
- Social Democrats: Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej (Democratic Left Alliance): An amalgamation of several leftist parties, most of which traced their descent from the PZPR (Polish United Workers' Party), which was The Party in the Communist days. Lost most of their influence in 2005 after a massive corruption scandal. After years of being too busy with in-fighting to convey a coherent stance on anything, seems to be moving to the right on economics; its leader is more of a classical liberal. Tries to avoid expressing any opinions on social issues, so as not to alienate older voters, which has been exploited by Twój Ruch.
- Don't Fit In: Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe (Polish People's Party) — An agrarian party, approximately Social Democrat, but more socially conservative (are you noticing a pattern by now?) and with a specific focus on agriculture and support for small farmers. Has a reputation for nepotism and being willing to get into a coalition with just about anybody.
- Classical Liberals: Partido Social Democrata (PSD) (Social Democrat Party), has this name because they were Social Democrats until the '80s.
- Christian Democrats: Centro Democrático Social - Partido Popular (CDS-PP) (Democratic and Social Center - People's Party)
- Social Democrats: Partido Socialista (PS) (Socialist Party)
- Greens: Partido Ecologista "Os Verdes" (PEV) (Ecologist Party "The Greens"), in a permanent coalition with the Communists, so somewhat overlapping with the Far Left.
- Far Left: Partido Comunista Portuguęs (PCP) (Portuguese Communist Party) and Bloco de Esquerda (BE) (Left Block)
See Russian Political System
- Far Right: DPNI ("the Movement to Counteract Illegal Immigration", an outlawed party)
- Right Wing Populist: Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (looks like far-right, but in fact populist all bark and no bite)
- Classical Liberals: Right Cause (a dwarf party), Another Russia (an outlawed one too)
- Conservatives: United Russia: This one is The Party, supporting Vladimir Putin whatever he does. It controls everything, but given Putin's popularity this isn't unexpected. Just really annoying and suspicious.
- Progressive Liberals: Yabloko ("Apple Party") (not important enough to ban)
- Social Democrats: A Just Russia
- Far Left: Left Front (an outlawed party)
- Don't Fit In: Communist Party of the Russian Federation (a blend of social-democrat and conservative).
- Conservatives: Partido Popular (PP) (People's Party)
- Progressive Liberals: Unión Progreso y Democracia (UPyD) (Union for Progress and Democracy)
- Social Democrats: Partido Socialista Obrero Espańol (PSOE) (Spanish Socialist Worker's Party)
- Far Left: Izquierda Unida (IU) (United Left)
- Regionalist: Convergčncia i Unió (CiU) (Convergence and Union; Christian Democratic/Conservative) and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) (Republican Left of Catalonia, Social Democrats) in Catalonia are the biggest two. Several regional parties exist for the other autonomous communities of Spain. And then there's the Basque country...
- Far Right: Sverigedemokraterna (SD) (Sweden Democrats). Particularly popular in Scania, the southernmost part of Sweden (near Denmark, and part of Denmark until the mid-17th century)
- Classical Liberals: Moderata samlingspartiet (Moderate Coalition Party)
- Christian Democrats: Kristdemokraterna (KD) (Christian Democrats)
- Progressive Liberals: Folkpartiet Liberalerna (FP) Liberal People's Party)
- Pirates: Piratpartiet (Pirate Party)
- Social Democrats: formally Sveriges Socialdemokratiska arbetarparti (SAP) (Swedish Social Democratic Workers' Party), more commonly known as Socialdemokraterna (Social Democrats)
- Greens: Miljöpartiet de gröna (MP) (Environmental Party of the Greens)
- Far Left: Vänsterpartiet (Left Party)
Switzerland is really funny, as it has been governed by an all-party coalition of the four major parties (SVP, FDP, CVP, SP) called the "magic formula" since 1959, with the seat distribution on the Federal Council (the seven-member Cabinet that also serves as Switzerland's collective head of state) changing only very slightly on the basis of who gets more seats in the Federal Assembly.
- Right-wing Populists: Schweizerische Volkspartei (SVP) (Swiss People's Party), started as an Agrarian party and moved to the Right under chairman Christoph Blocher.
- Their part is taken over in the Italian speaking Cantons by the Lega dei Ticinesi (Ticino League, similar to the Lega Nord) and more recently in the French speaking Cantons, especially in Geneva, by the Mouvement Citoyens Genevois (MCG) (Geneva Citizens' Movement).
- Classical Liberals: FDP.Die Liberalen (FDP. The Liberals)
- Conservatives: Bürgerlich-Demokratische Partei (BDP) (Civic-Democratic Party), an offshoot of the SVP.
- Christian Democrats: Christlichdemokratische Volkspartei (CVP) (Christian Democratic People's Party, Catholic) and Evangelische Volkspartei (EVP) (Protestant People's Party, Lutheran Protestant, much smaller than the CVP)
- The CVP also has a smaller more left-wing wing called the Christlichsoziale Partei (CSP) (Christian Social Party) which has oftentimes gathered seats on their own and in some Cantons is even organized as a seperate party. Swiss Politics are complicated.
- Social Democrats: Sozialdemokratische Partei (SP) (Social Democratic Party)
- Greens: Grüne Partei (Green Party)
- Grünliberale (GLP) more business-friendly offshoot of the Green Party.