Asylum political index: where does each party stand?

Asylum political index: where does each party stand?

This real-time index measures the actual positions of all national political parties represented in the European Parliament, based on how they are voting on decisions or proposals that impact on the EU's asylum and border control policies. Given the changing economic and social context, the positions of political parties can suffer substantial shifts, reason for which we found it useful to help the stakeholders and the public keep these developments. 

Note: we are working on similar analyses for other topics. 

In practice, this research measures how welcoming / reluctant each party is in relation to asylum seekers (relative to the other parties in the EP). Some political parties believe that the EU should enforce stricter policies on asylum and border control, others that the Union should pursue a more liberal approach in this regard, while many have more nuanced views. 

The votes in the European Parliament allow us to take very accurate snapshots, as all the parties across the EU vote on the exact same political statements at the same time (hence in the same circumstances), which provides the necessary ground for a solid and objective comparison (as opposed to looking at scattered statements issued in different contexts). 

How to access the data: at the bottom of this article you will find the interactive infographic and spot the positions of all parties. However, if this is the first time you are reading this, we suggest that you first go through the methodological and contextual notes below, to make the most of this information. 

There are currently over 200 parties in the European Parliament, coming from the 27 EU member states, and this research makes it easy to make comparisons between them, since all these parties have voted on the exact same proposals at the exact same time. 

This index uses objective data from the voting sessions of the European Parliament to determine what is the real position of each party, in order to reduce the distortions generated by inaccurate news. The index is transparent and you can easily track how it was built, as we are providing the full list of votes that we took into account (you can then check how the MEPs voted on each vote by navigating through the EP website, or ask for a premium subscription to our own analytical database).

In total, we have found over 230 key votes that concern decisions or proposals related to asylum seekers and border control since the beginning of the EP term (July 2019). We have looked into all of these, interpreted their meaning and checked how each party voted on each of them. These votes concern decisions or proposals that regard: legal pathways for safe migration, border control (Frontex), return, relocation and resettlement of refugees, refugee integration, search and rescue missions, and humanitarian assistance to asylum seekers.

This index was last updated to include the votes that took place in the European Parliament in October 2022.

Note: this assessment is based on behaviour in the European Parliament, which might occasionally differ from the positions adopted by the leaders of the parties at home. It shows the positions the delegations of parliamentarians that these parties have sent to represent them in European decision-making. These parliamentarians sometimes have (or develop) their own views, especially as a result of interaction with their colleagues from the other countries (the so-called “European socialisation effect”).

Key findings so far:

Among all the groups, the Greens, the Left and the S&D groups are the most welcoming towards asylum-seekers, with minor variations. While both the Greens and Left parties have the most homogenous and favourable views towards making it easier for asylum seekers and migrations to live in the EU, within the S&D group there is a broader variety of opinions (the Danes are the least convinced of the benefits of an open asylum policy, while the French are among the strongest advocates of openness).

Within the EPP group, the parties share a generally balanced view, although there are some substantial variations, with the French (pushing for stricter policies) and the Irish (calling for fewer restrictions) standing at opposite ends. There is a wide range of views within the Renew Europe group, where the Danes and the Czechs calling for a higher level of restrictions, while the Italians and the Irish push in the opposite direction. While the ECR-affiliated parties are generally advocates for stricter policies, we find some considerable differences: whereas the Swedes, the Dutch and the Spaniards lean strongly towards restrictive policies, the Belgians, while still sceptical, have less drastic views.

Lastly, the parties affiliated to the nationalist ID political network are pushing for the highest level of restrictions on asylum seekers and stronger border control measures at EU level. Within the ID group, all parties are on the same side, with the Czech, the French and the German delegations as the most radical on this topic. 

Overall, if we disregard the party composition of each national delegation, the measurements find that the Irish, the Portuguese, the Cypriots are the most accepting of asylum seekers, having the Germans and Spaniards not far behind. At the opposite end, the Hungarians, the Poles and the Czechs lean the most towards strict border control and asylum policies, with the Italians also being strongly represented in this category, followed closely by the French

How to read the interactive chart below:

The parties that are at the “extreme right” of that chart are the least welcoming of refugees, meaning that they have voted in favour of stricter policies on border control and asylum seekers. Concretely, in this category you will find ID member parties like Svoboda a přímá demokracie (Czechia), Rassemblement National (France) and Alternative für Deutschland (Germany), but also several ECR members, such as Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden), JA21 (Netherlands), Vox (Spain) and Fratelli d’Italia (Italy).

Conversely, the parties that are at the “extreme left” of this chart are the most accepting of refugees, meaning that they have supported most of the proposals that ask the EU to adopt a more ‘liberal’ asylum policy. In this part of the chart you find parties like the Belgian, the German and the French Greens, most parties from The Left group, but also some parties from the S&D (especially the French) or even Renew.

NB: on the vertical axis the parties are placed based on the size of their delegation in the European Parliament. 

Tip: click on the names of the political groups to find the outliers in each group. Use the filters to find parties from specific countries that you are interested in.

For more information about the positions of MEPs and Governments on asylum and border control (or any other) policy, contact us at [email protected].
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