EU-Russia political index: where does each party stand?

EU-Russia political index: where does each party stand?

This real-time index measures the actual position of all European political parties represented in the European Parliament, based on how they are voting on EU-Russia relations. In practice, this research measures how assertive – conciliatory each European party is in relation to Russia (compared to the other parties in the EP). Most political parties believe that the EU should be much more assertive towards Russia, while some would like the EU to be more conciliatory. 

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 identical circumstances), which provides the necessary ground for a solid and objective comparison (as opposed to looking at scattered statements issued in different circumstances). 

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 334 votes that concern relations with Russia 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. 

This index was last updated to include the votes that took place in the European Parliament in early 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 (as in the case of Forza Italia, Fidesz, etc.). 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:

There is an increasing consensus among the political parties that the EU has to be more assertive towards Russia. The distances between the parties have reduced since the invasion of Ukraine. 

There are still some soft differences among the political networks, where the centre-right groups EPP and ECR are the most assertive (more assertive than the Socialists), while the nationalists and the far-left parties are the least assertive. Most EPP parties have traditionally been more reserved in strengthening ties with Russia. Within this center-right political network, the data highlights the rather different position of the French side of EPP, namely Les Republicans. The position of the ECR parties may come as a surprise to those who have not followed the positioning of this faction closely, as this group has been generally regarded as "euro-sceptic" for their positioning against strengthening EU's political powers. However, the parties in this network have been highly critical of Russia (with the exception of their Greek and Dutch components) and have been similarly supportive of an assertive approach towards countries such as Iran, China, etc.. From this perspective, there is a substantial difference between the position of the ECR parties and those that are affiliated to the nationalist ID group.

The position of the S&D parties has also been increasingly critical of Russia, while there are still a few nuances within the group, i.e. the German, Bulgarian  and Slovenian delegations moving "behind the S&D average" in this respect. The differences within the Renew and the Greens group are less significant. Lastly, the parties in the Left group are the least interested to support a more assertive policy towards Russia, with the Portuguese, Irish and Spanish having rather radical (opposite) positions.  The Spanish Podemos is particularly relevant, as they are part of the government in Madrid. 

A comparison by country highlights that delegations from the Central and Eastern European region are the most critical of Russia, while the French, Greek and Cypriot are the least vocal in this respect. The Germans also stand out as somewhat less critical than others

Tip: do take into account the political composition of each national parliamentary delegation and that, in some cases, big EP delegations come from parties that are in opposition “at home”, e.g. around a third of the French delegation is composed of members of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National, which explains (albeit not fully) the low “average” of the French delegation. The fact that big delegations come from parties in opposition highlight that this is not necessarily the position of the current Government from that country. However, it does indicate what the position of that Government would turn into, if the current opposition were to take over the Government.  

How to read the interactive chart below:

The parties that are at the extreme right” of that chart are the most critical of Russia, meaning that they have voted in favour of even the most assertive proposals vis-à-vis Russia (e.g. establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine or accelerating NATO’s accession of Georgia and Ukraine). Concretely, in this category you will find parties like Law and Justice and Civic Platform (Poland), Civic Democratic Party (Czechia), Moderaterna and Sweden Democrats (Sweden), and Spanish Vox

Conversely, the parties that are at the extreme left of this chart are the least critical of Russia, meaning that they have voted against most of the proposals that ask the EU to have a hard stance on Russia, or have even proposed that the EU softens its current stance. In this part of the chart you find parties like PODEMOS (Spain), die Linke and Alternative for Germany (Germany), and French Rassemblement National (just to mention some of the biggest ones).

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

As the interactive chart highlights, there is a big (and increasing) concentration of parties on the right of this chart, which highlights that the stance of most European parties has become very assertive on / critical of Russia (in parallel with the prolongation of the war in Ukraine) and that the differences (in views) between most European parties have become smaller, i.e. it is easier to build consensus among EU political factions on this topic. 

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 this topic, or other subjects that are being debated in the European institutions, contact us at [email protected].

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