It was a big day yesterday for euroskeptics in Europe. In the UK, while UKIP underperformed expectations with its leader Nigel Farage losing his seat, the Conservative party rode to an unexpected majority. The Conservatives will come into office having guaranteed a renegotiation of Britain’s membership terms in the EU, to be followed by an In/Out referendum. Cameron’s cooption of one of the biggest planks in UKIP’s platform is thought to have contributed to the Tory victory.
In Finland, meanwhile, Prime Minister-designate Juha Sipilä announced yesterday that his Center Party would form a coalition government with two other parties, The Finns and the National Coalition. The Finns are a right-wing party skeptical on european bailouts and on immigration—much like UKIP. Their leader Timo Soini could become the country’s new Finance Minister.
In Spain, on the other hand, the far-left Podemos took a big tumble in a poll released yesterday, with recorded support dropping from to 16.5 percent today after reaching as high as 23.9 percent last January. Like Syriza, with which it openly identifies, Podemos is generally pro-EU, but anti-austerity first. In practice, that has often translated into a populist, soft euroskepticism, as the EU, the euro, and the ECB are seen as the mechanism for austerity.
But if If elections were held today, the center-right People’s Party, not Podemos, would win, with 25.6 percent support. Instead, center-right parties like Citizens are surging, posting in that case at 13.8 percent support, a big rise from the 3.1 percent it commanded only three months ago. Likewise, in Greece, recent polls indicate that over 70% of the people now want to pay up and stay in the eurozone.
What’s the difference? Not all euroskepticism fits the same definition. And the southern brand, focused around a push-back on austerity, has taken a shellacking since Syriza won power in Greece. Events in the UK and Finland may yet show how the northern brands do once put to the people (the UK referendum) or given a place in government.